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ALESSIA ROMANO
UX DESIGNER

How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 3

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But who is my customer?

How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 3 of 3

Key insights into the best ways to cultivate a customer-centric culture.

BY
AMANDA SALTER

Strategy Director

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In the first two articles in the series we looked at the challenge of who ‘owns’ the customer and how to manage diverse departments. Here we continue to look at the challenges facing CCOs.

The question of ‘Who is my customer?’ is particularly challenging for B to B to C organisations. Should you focus on your direct customer – i.e. the business you’re providing services or products for – or the end user?

Our principle is always this – for quicker results, start closer to home before branching out. This means starting with your immediate customers first (i.e. the B to B side of things), and focus on the end user later (i.e. the B to C). This is because it’s always easier to get results when you are on more familiar territory.

As an addition to this we’ve recently seen a welcome shift to include employees and colleagues in the “customer” pool as well. After all, they’re your internal customers and without them on side, your vision will struggle to take off.

But this is also where things can become a little trickier. How do you choose whether to optimise for employees or customers? Is the state of your internal organisation processes and tools the biggest thing that is hindering your overall customer experience? Or will improving your customers’ experience provide better results? If you’re unsure, then it might be best to start with your customers. Here the impact and benefit of any changes will be more visible to everyone, thus helping to build support for the rest of your initiatives.

What you can do:

  •      Make day-to-day improvements

Don’t underestimate the impact of improving life at work for your employees, one department at a time.

Why? You can’t convince your employees to deliver a great customer experience if their own tools, systems, and processes give them a terrible work experience.

  •      Always go for the biggest win first

When you’re faced with a choice of where to prioritise your efforts, always go for the thing that will give you the biggest impact first.  

Why? In the early days of establishing credibility as a business unit, it’s really important to demonstrate results and ROI quickly. You can then build on early success to fund and fuel later initiatives. Simple idea but it still works.

  •      Map your customer journey

Customer journey mapping is a great way to uncover new opportunities.

Why? You can use this technique to focus on your customers (and the end user) to identify gaps in your product or service offering.  

  •      Broaden your horizon

If everything close to home is going ok and you’re looking to spot new opportunities to drive value, then look to your customers’ customers.

Why? Focusing on your end user can help you uncover and address new needs that can expand your service portfolio and yield better results.

That finishes our round up of the key nuggets from Sands’ article, and our take on them. If you’d like to find out more about any of the ideas, please drop us a line at info@newtidea.com

Read more

This recent McKinsey report has some interesting ideas on the importance of building a business case to secure buy in and build momentum: Linking the customer experience to value by Joel Maynes and Alex Rawson, McKinsey & Co 

 

Other articles in this series:

Part 1 - Who owns the customer

Part 2 - How to manage diverse departments

Part 3 - But who is my customer?

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How to design responsibly

Universal design principles and why banks need them – Part 3

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How to design responsibly

Essential lessons from the founder of sustainable design, Victor Papanek.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Victor Papanek was a designer and educator, whose teachings on responsible design have not only stood the test of time – they’ve become more relevant today than ever.

Papanek believed designers have a social responsibility to only create products that are useful and environmentally friendly. By this, he means made from materials that suit the purpose and can be disposed of in a safe, eco-friendly way. The alternative, Papanek points out, are mass-produced, useless products that end up as garbage, cluttering the landscape and potentially polluting the air we breathe. For example, the electric carrot peeler was an unsustainable, short-term fashion item that had a long-term impact on the environment.

Instead of creating next year’s landfill addition, Papanek urges designers to design for real needs. Using lab goggles as an example, Papanek pointed out the flaws in many modern designs. Lab goggles are built from plastic and treated as disposable as they have a weak spot across the bridge of the nose, which breaks under pressure. This provides a clear opportunity to make goggles durable and long lasting. Or, if the intention is for them to remain disposable, they should be made from different, greener materials.

Papanek may have been writing this in the 70s, but it’s a problem that hasn’t been solved. Apple has recently been criticised by Tony Fry for its choice of glass steel for the next iPhone. Fry points out that glass steel is the strongest material ever made and could possibly last for 50,000 years. But it’s being used for a phone with a life expectancy of 3-4 years.

Papanek – and Fry’s – key message is one of sustainability. Designers need to think ahead and apply common sense to avoid the short-sighted decisions that have brought us to the brink of environmental crisis.

“There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care…Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hair brushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people.”

Victor Papanek

Top 5 ways to design for sustainability

    1. Look at yourself first
      At the risk of sounding like a self-help book; change does in fact start with the yourself. The point is to understand that as a designer, we are both creator and destructor. By acknowledging this, we can understand that we are also part of the problem and solution.
    2. Continually evolve
      At the end of every project, ask yourself what could you have done if circumstances had been different? This is an important question in order to set better goals and create better solutions next time.
    3. Align your goals with the challenges of the day
      The UN Sustainable development goals are a universal call to action for governments, business and people to make a positive change for the planet. Use these as starting point to prioritise which ones are important to your organisation. Then use this as a framework for your goal setting.
    4. Adopt an Agile approach
      In software development, an Agile approach is used to let teams evolve solutions as they move through projects, taking into account user needs, feedback and risks. Imagine if this could be done across every idea that’s put into the world. It would become easier to choose the right things and do more good in the world.
    5. Learn from nature
      In nature, there is no waste. When life ends, it provides food and nourishment to other animals or the earth itself. In a utopian world, we would be able to apply this principle to products as well as society. Making use of everything, reducing our reliance on landfills, and making the planet a better place for everyone.

This article forms part of Zoe Lester’s MA in Design and Environment at Goldsmiths. To learn more about her methodology and what she’s been up to, email her at zoe@newtidea.com

Fry, Tony (2012) Steel: UnSettling the Iron Planet, October 29, 2012. Available from: https://vimeo.com/53962609

Papanek, Victor (2011) Design for the real world, Thames & Hudson – London

Find out more about universal design principles:

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Universal design principles and why banks need them – Part 2

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The importance of being accessible

Make your website work for all users, and everyone, including your business, will benefit.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Accessibility is not just a legal requirement, it’s an essential part of best practice design. It increases usability, lets more people use your service, helps with mobile web design, and benefits SEO.

But there’s more to it than simply using legible font sizes, linear layouts and the right colours. You might find you need to design in a completely different way, for example some users with motor disabilities may prefer keyboard use only. Other times guidelines might seem contradictory. For example, using bright contrasts is advised for those with low vision, while some users on the autistic spectrum prefer low contrasts.

In other words, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, take time to understand the challenges facing different users, adapt your designs accordingly, test extensively, and make the best compromises to suit your customers.

To help you do this, check out these handy guidelines from the team at Gov.uk on how to design for different accessibility needs.

Designing for users of screen readers

Do:

  • describe images and provide transcripts for video
  • follow a linear, logical layout
  • structure content using HTML5
  • build for keyboard use only
  • write descriptive links and heading – for example, Contact us

Don’t:

  • only show information in an image or video
  • spread content all over a page
  • rely on text size and placement for structure
  • force mouse or screen use
  • write uninformative links and heading – for example, Click here

designing for screen readers
Designing for users on the autistic spectrum

Do:

  • write in plain English
  • use simple sentences and bullets
  • make buttons descriptive – for example, Attach files
  • build simple and consistent layouts

Don’t:

  • use bright contrasting colours
  • use figures of speech and idioms
  • create a wall of text
  • make buttons vague and unpredictable – for example, Click here
  • build complex and cluttered layoutsDesigning for users on the autistic spectrum

Designing for users with physical or motor disabilities

Do:

  • make large clickable actions
  • give form fields space
  • design for keyboard or speech only use
  • design with mobile and touch screen in mind
  • provide shortcuts

Don’t:

  • demand precision
  • bunch interactions together
  • make dynamic content that requires a lot of mouse movement
  • have short time out windows
  • tire users with lots of typing and scrolling

Designing for users with physical or motor disabilities
Designing for users who are D/deaf or hard of hearing

Do:

  • write in plain English
  • use subtitles or provide transcripts for video
  • use a linear, logical layout
  • break up content with sub-headings, images and videos
  • let users ask for their preferred communication support when booking appointments

Don’t:

  • use complicated words or figures of speech
  • put content in audio or video only
  • make complex layouts and menus
  • make users read long blocks of content
  • don’t make telephone the only means of contact for users

Designing for users who are D/deaf or hard of hearing
Designing for users with dyslexia

Do:

  • use images and diagrams to support text
  • align text to the left and keep a consistent layout
  • consider producing materials in other formats (for example, audio and video)
  • keep content short, clear and simple
  • let users change the contrast between background and text

Don’t:

  • use large blocks of heavy text
  • underline words, use italics or write capitals
  • force users to remember things from previous pages – give reminders and prompts
  • rely on accurate spelling – use autocorrect or provide suggestions
  • put too much information in one place

 

designing for users with dyslexia

The content for the posters came from the accessibility team in Home Office Digital. Led by accessibility leads Emily Ball and James Buller, they are a group of twelve, each specialising on these conditions: blind and visual impairment, dyslexia, autism and ADHD, D/deaf and hard of hearing, mental health and motor disabilities.

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The full range of posters

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Universal design principles and why banks need them – Part 1

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Seven crucial lessons to learn from the new breed of mobile banking services

 

Mobile banking is continually evolving. To keep up, banks need to adapt to new universal design principles that better meet customer needs.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

There is no getting away from the fact that mobile is not just the future of banking, it’s the here, now and everything. Since the 2008 financial crisis, a new breed of bank has emerged, starting with Metro bank in 2010. Recently, new players like Monzo are tipping the balance, offering services that are better equipped to respond to customers’ needs. At the flick of a screen, customers can see exactly where their money is going. They feel in control, and this is a powerful thing for both customers and banks.

So how does this new breed of bank do it? Well, firstly Monzo is not bound by the same systems that legacy banks have to deal with, and therefore has much more technological freedom. But fundamentally, they put customers in the driving seat. If a customer doesn’t like their bank, they can just change their app. As a result, banks are often on the back foot, creating bolt ons and struggling to keep up with the market. New banks understand the importance of user experience, so design for their customers’ needs and make mobile banking a priority.

This is not groundbreaking. Mpesa the African mobile money network has been providing customer-centred mobile banking services for over 15 years on low tech phones with high battery life (because Africa has an energy problem). Using only text messaging, they can even serve the 30% of the African population that is not connected to the internet. Therefore bridging long distances, times for banks transfers, political disruption, living in rural areas without banks close by, and demographics – as people of all ages can use it. 40% of Kenya’s GDP flows through this simple system.

The key thing to take away here is that the solution is designed with the market in mind. In recognising this we can draw a connection between customer needs and the application of universal design principles. Monzo creative director, Hugo Cornejo quotes “universal design” as the secret of his team’s success.

Here are our top seven universal design principles for banking services: Cornejo credits the first four as underpinning the way Monzo was designed.

Example of Monzo’s animations

1. The Aesthetic Bias

Aesthetic designs are perceived as:

  • Easier to use
  • More readily accepted
  • Used more frequently
  • Promoting creative thinking and problem solving

Key take-away: The better it looks, the more people will like and use it. 

Example of Affordance for door opening

2. Affordance

Affordance recognises that some objects and environments are better suited to certain functions than others. Basically it gives clues to how something should be used. For example, drawing a 3D button on a computer interface makes it look a physical button, and therefore people are more likely to press it.

Key take-away: The more intuitive your designs, the easier they’ll be to use. 

Example of mistake-proofing

3. Poka-Yoke

A poka-yoke means to mistake-proof your design. It literally stands for avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka). It lets you prevent, correct, or draw attention to customer errors as they occur. This can be addressed by making actions easy to undo, or by calling out errors through messaging.

Key take-away: Factor customer mistakes into your design and let them quickly fix them as they go.

Example button size and actual target size

4. Fitts Law

Fitts Law is vital when designing for mobile. It states that there is a correlation in the time taken to reach a target depending on distance and size. It is applicable for rapid pointing movements, not moving targets. For designers, this means being acutely aware of where you position things on screen. For example, making controls distant or smaller when they are not needed so they aren’t used at the wrong time.

Key take-away: Bring tools to the forefront when needed, and minimise them when they’re not.

Examples of different forms of iconic representation

5. Iconic representation

Iconic representation reduces performance load, conserves display and control areas, and makes signs and controls more understandable across cultures. There are four types of iconic representation:

  • Similar – consider similar icons when representations are simple and concrete
  • Example – use example icons when representation is more complex
  • Symbolic – consider symbolic icons for well-established and recognised symbols
  • Arbitrary – consider arbitrary when the relationship to the action has to be learned

Generally icons need to be labelled and share a common visual motif for optimal performance.

Example of inclusive signage and alternatives to photo avatars

Do consider that icons like the male and female to signify toilets or photo realistic avatars may exclude and or expose certain people. As vocabulary and understanding expands around these issues, icon designs need to be increasingly neutral in order to signify inclusivity.

Key take-away: Use icons to provide easy-to-understand visual references.

Example of alignment

6. Alignment

Alignment lets you organise your design in a way a person will naturally scan a screen. This makes it easier for them to use the service. Often elements are aligned in rows and columns or along a centre line. When elements are not arranged in row/column format, consider highlighting the alignment paths. Use left or right alignment to create the best alignment cues and consider justified text for complex compositions.

Key take-away: Organise your design elements in a way that makes it easier for customers to navigate your service.   

Example of forms of consistency

7. Consistency

Consider aesthetic and functional consistency in all aspects of design. There are four types of consistency:

  • Aesthetic consistency – use to establish unique identities that can be easily recognised
  • Functional consistency – use to simplify usability and ease learning e.g. the controls of a remote that are now universally recognised
  • Internal consistency – ensure that systems are aligned behind the scenes  e.g. signs within one system like a cycling track
  • External consistency – ensure consistency across external platforms, to the greatest degree possible e.g. emergency signs that are the same across different systems

When common design standards exist, observe them.

Key take-away: Give your customers a consistent experience at each part of their journey, and at every touchpoint.

These seven universal design principles are the building blocks for better, more successful designs. By getting these basics right, you can establish a foundation that lets you create more customer-friendly services that better meet the needs of your users.

Find out more about universal design principles:

  1. Part 2 in the series: Designing for accessibility
  2. Part 3 in the series: How to design responsibly
  3. Learn more about universal design principles
  4. Learn more about Mpesa
  5. Ted talk: You don’t need an app for that
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How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 2

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How to manage diverse
departments

How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 2 of 3

Key insights into the best ways to cultivate a customer-centric culture.

BY
AMANDA SALTER

Strategy Director

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In the first article in the series we looked at the challenge of who ‘owns’ the customer. Here we continue to look at the challenges facing CCOs.

In large organisations, different departments and people will be responsible for different customer touch-points. As the Chief Customer Officer, your job is to ensure they all follow the same vision. But this isn’t always easy, especially when you factor in internal politics. We suggest looking at how other more modern ‘Chief’ type roles gained traction. For example, how did Chief Digital Officers build authority amongst their peers within traditional non-digital organisations? What lessons can be learned?

What you can do:

  • Clearly communicate your role
    While you’re creating shared responsibility for the customer experience across your organisation, you also need to decide and clearly communicate the part you’ll play. How active or passive do you want to be? Are you the conductor of the orchestra, responsible for directing the overall customer agenda? Or a consultant, advising on the bigger picture but taking a less hands on approach? Or somewhere in between? People need to know where you stand, and where they stand in relation to you, especially if the role is relatively new to your organisation.

Why? People need to buy in to you before they can buy in to your vision.

  • Get the CEO onside
    A bit of no-brainer, but your CEO needs to be your greatest advocate. They need to understand and be genuinely bought in to the importance of your role and your initiatives in the organisation. And they need to visibly and consistently communicate this, especially in the early days. Ideally, you’ll already have the full support of your CEO on the organisational KPIs that you’re intending to measure and put in place to drive customer centredness. This is vital for change to happen.

Why? If the boss isn’t in your corner, why will anyone else be?

  • Build a budget
    Make the case to have your own budget, with authority to disburse it as you see fit.

Why? Budget = power. If you don’t have a budget, you may be seen as less influential.

  • Get a team
    Make sure you have at least a small skilled team to help you towards your agenda. It goes without saying to carefully staff your team with people who “get it” and can evangelise with you.

Why? Headcount = influence. The more people who can spread the word about what you’re trying to achieve, the easier it will be to get support.

  • Start a project
    Create your own initiatives, promote visibility of these, and make it so desirable and exciting that other departments want to participate and feel left out if they don’t.

Why? Projects = visibility. If you don’t own or run any projects, you may be seen as just a “toothless authority”.

  • Set clear requirements
    You need to communicate clearly, specifically and simply exactly what is needed from each department. For example, this could be a re-prioritisation of effort, or contribution of time, resources, or budget towards a project. On top of this, people and departments need to know the benefits they will get out of it.

Why? A single customer experience policy across departments requires great communication, or it will all break down.

This is the second instalment in our three-part series. Look out for the final insight, ‘But who is my customer?’

Other articles in this series:

Part 1 - Who owns the customer

Part 2 - How to manage diverse departments

Part 3 - But who is my customer?

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How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 1

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Who owns the customer?

How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 1 of 3

Key insights into the best ways to cultivate a customer-centric culture.

BY
AMANDA SALTER

Strategy Director

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In June this year, Paul Sands from Customer Bullseye published an article called Chief Customer Officers: Some Group Therapy, Some Golden Nuggets. In the article, he detailed the pains, challenges and frustrations that 50+ Chief Customer Officers faced on a daily basis. The findings were enlightening. So we’ve explored a few of these nuggets in more detail, adding in our own thoughts and experiences.

Interdepartmental responsibility is a big issue for big businesses. When there’s lots of departments involved, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of passing the buck when there’s a customer issue. Or, you might have a situation where departments are doing their own customer initiatives, and are unwilling to coordinate with pre-existing plans and roadmaps. This happened a lot when digital was first launched. Unfortunately, this lack of collaboration takes its toll, on both the customer and the business.

As Sands highlights, the solution is to create shared ownership around a unified vision for the customer experience across departmental silos.

What you can do:

  • Involve customers in vision-setting working
    In addition to engaging colleagues in vision-setting workshops, aim to get some real customers in the room too.

Why? It prevents disagreements about what people think customers want and need. Instead everyone can hear directly from the customers themselves. Which means you can create a vision based on real needs.

  • Make sure everyone is clear about their role
    When shaping the customer experience vision, make sure it’s very easy for everyone to see “their place” in delivering it. Show each department why their specific role is an important piece of the jigsaw. This needs quite a lot of thinking and visualisation – but it’s worth the effort.

Why? Success depends on everyone pulling together. And you’ll get much better buy in across departments once everyone understands their value and the part they have to play.

  • Recognise current successes
    Publicly recognise the positive things departments and people are already doing. Highlight how they are already playing a crucial part in delivering current successes in customer experience. Let them know that you are aware of and value the benefits of their hard work. And show how you’re building on existing capabilities (if possible) within the vision.

Why? Showing people they are appreciated leads to a happier workforce that will be more emotionally invested in your new vision.

  • Adopt a service design approach
    Service design encapsulates both “front of house” (customer-facing) and “back of house” (business operational) perspectives. It’s the best way to capture and visualise a seamless, practical, actionable vision to define customer experience.

Why? A service design approach promotes a shared understanding and vision by aligning departments and helping you engage the entire business.

This is just the first part in our three-part series. Look out for the rest of the articles.

Other articles in this series:

Part 1 - Who owns the customer

Part 2 - How to manage diverse departments

Part 3 - But who is my customer?

Find out more:
Discover the power of service design to find out more

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How to design better timelines visually

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How to design better

timelines visually

Create easy-to-use, intuitive timelines that will help your business function better.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Timelines have broken out of the social media mould and are now starting to appear everywhere. We’re all used to seeing them as a snapshot of our life, but in business, timelines are being used to display everything from financial information to shopping histories. The great thing about timelines – and the reason for their surge in popularity – is that they’re able to display complex information, simply. But, this requires a lot of work to get right.

Consider a timeline that needs to schedule hundreds of employees with different roles, needs, and work statuses. The timeline needs to be helpful, functional, informative and easy to use for multiple purposes, across different domains and departments. And it needs to serve a business purpose – eg reduce wasted time, enable information sharing, increase customer loyalty etc.

That’s a big ask. Before you start designing, you need to talk to users to establish the multitude of requirements and pinpoint problem areas. Then interpret this research in a way that can be universally understood. Your goal is to create something that people will want to use, that makes their life easier, and enables success.

With this is mind, here are ten points that will help you design better real time applications.

Ten steps to timeline success

1. Understand the interconnectivity of timeline and pixels

A timeline user interface (UI) is going to include a lot of elements and may span 24 hours or more. It’s impossible to show this level of information in any detail that is useful to the user, even if you added in zoom functionality. Zooming comes with its own problems as it can be disorientating to move between zoom states, i.e. be zoomed in on one page, then move to another that’s zoomed out.

• We usually work on a five-hour timeframe. This lets us narrow our frame of focus and build UI elements that are easy to read.

• We also use the frame of one pixel per minute. This is helpful when it comes to handing designs over to developers as it reduces any complicated maths in the coding. From here, we are able to plan what space could be used for our timeline and what could be used for a side panel list.

2. Design for the worse case scenario

Spend some time highlighting the worse case scenarios so you can plan solutions in advance. Talk to users, ask questions and dig deeper as they may not always think small details are important. But in reference to a timeline, considerations such as designing for the smallest timeframe may impact typography and layout. Other things to consider are what if times clash, how will this look?

3. Do the “one line challenge”

Set yourself a challenge of reducing key information to one line. Short, succinct details are much easier to read and process, and therefore more useful. Try enforcing a limited word count through the design – for example, in the past we’ve used a 40x60px box to display information. Be creative in how to save space. Use initials rather than full names and, for things like employee codes, cash cards, or car registrations, limit digits to the last three or four. If you need to include more information, add ellipses (…) to show that clicking onto the next layer will display further details.

4. Keep things clean

Clean, clear designs are crucial for timelines. If they are too busy, users can become overwhelmed and be distracted from key information. A white background is an obvious choice. Colours can then be used to highlight features and guide the eye.

5. Make it easy to scan

Visual legibility is crucial. Timelines usually display vast quantities of information, which need to be presented in an easy-to-understand format. This means structuring content intuitively and drip-feeding information in a way that can be quickly interpreted. For example, columns can be used to align text and enable users to jump from one piece of information to the next. When reducing information, it’s important to have clear signposts guiding people to click to view full details.

6. Define a visual hierarchy

Consistency is key. Your design needs to guide people’s eyes to important information. But at the same time, it needs to follow a pattern and colour code that can be easily deciphered. Choose a neutral colour to display everyday and continuous content, and stick to this throughout the design. Use bright colours to draw attention and highlight key content. Keep smaller elements such as dates and time the same size and font on every page. Use opacities to bring forward and set back information.

7. Establish a colour palette

There are no set rules for which colours you use – that’s up to you and what works for your business (though they need to be accessible – see point 9). But you need to stick to whatever palette you choose across every page and element. In one project, we used a restricted traffic light colour palette to apply meaning to different layers of information. The benefit of this is that there is an innate understanding of the semiotics of these colours, making the design more intuitive.

8. Use symbols

Symbols are a great way to represent further levels of information. They can even sit within your colour code and form groups, simplifying data and making information easier to interpret. Symbols can be visual, for example, a van for journeys, or simply the first letter of what you need to represent i.e. ‘L’ for Loading.

9. Help the user with a key

It’s not normally possible to rely solely on universal symbols and icons. Each timeline, and the information it displays, is unique. So, as a designer, you often need to create new, project-specific symbols and icons. To help users understand these, especially in the initial, learning stage, it’s best practice to include a key. As the learning stage is usually quite short it’s best to position your key away from the main interface. Users will soon understand what the symbols means and after a while are likely to ignore the key button completely.

10. Test for colour blindness

Globally, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have colour blindness, with reds and greens being commonly misinterpreted. To make your design accessible, it’s important that it doesn’t solely rely on colour coding. Try combining colours with symbols or texts so there’s more than one way to interpret information.

That’s our round up of how to design better timelines. Keeping these points in mind will help you design robust and resilient applications that are a joy to use and help people achieve more.

Talk timelines

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Seven steps to more effective design

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Seven steps to

more effective design

Take a look at how our unique approach to problem-solving and UX design can boost your business.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Our best practice design process

1. Comparative research

Comparisons are good. They let us explore how other people have approached challenges, what works, and what doesn’t. Before we start any project, we look at a range of existing designs to similar problems. Then we draw up an initial framework and highlight the things that were missing. We add in the unique needs for the specific project, and include elements we have not seen elsewhere. Finally, we look at the added layer of the visual design and keep that inline with any existing style or brand guidelines.

2. User research

Once we’ve got a sense of the problem, we look at how our design would be implemented and the people that will use it. Talking to users and understanding their needs is crucial – and we go guerrilla style and get out there meeting people. We’ll visit stores, talk to managers and customers and get a real sense of who we designing for.

3. Initial sketches

Next we develop initial sketches and integrate the complex needs that were uncovered during the research phases. At this stage, we are able to understand the size of the project and what’s possible in the set timescale. We identify where time could be of most use and which challenges are integral to the functionality of the application or service.

However, at this stage, nothing should be seen as locked down. Sketches are easy to amend, so stay in this stage for as long as possible to encourage collaboration and alignment across your business. Changes are inevitable and beneficial, as they allow projects to develop to their full potential. Sketches provide opportunities to share insights and allow changes to happen fluidly. Once the project is ready to progress, we identify UI elements, and highlight any adaptions that need to happen further down the line.

4. User stories

User stories put requirements into context and help us make judgments about the core challenges to be resolved. They also give us a frame of reference to evaluate our work and make sure we tick all user needs.

5. Iterative process

Weekly client meetings let us show progress, respond to the points discussed the previous week, and make changes if desired. This iterative approach reassures clients that we’re on target and producing something they want, and it reduces project risk.

6. UX and visual design collaboration

Our interactive workflow builds incrementally on the visual design and UX. We initially use hand drawn and whiteboard sketches, as these are quick and easy to develop. From here, we develop initial designs in Sketch, a great platform for designing web applications and sharing assets. Sketch assets can be used to build a rapid Axure prototype, which helps to eliminate ambiguities and improve functionality ahead of the perfected visuals.

7. Outside eyes

We work to tight deadlines, at a rapid pace, so it’s important to get a fresh pair of eyes to sense check our work. This is crucial not just to test ease of use and understanding, but also for proof-reading.

These steps show how we generally run projects. However, every project is different and there may be times some of the steps aren’t relevant, or extra steps are required. The important thing is flexibility and a close working relationship. We will adapt processes to meet our clients’ needs, and liaise closely throughout the design process. This helps to ensure our clients are happy with our work, know what they’re going to receive, and where our time is being spent.

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Get in touch to see how we can your help your business. Call us on 020 3515 1030 or email us at info@newtidea.com

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Five steps to designing complex timeline interactions

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Five steps to designing

complex timeline

interactions

Simplify the intricate with our guide to designing beautiful, intuitive and multifunctional timelines.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Since social media exploded into our lives, navigating timelines has become second nature. When a timeline has been done well, we use it without pausing for thought. We don’t need detailed explanations and guides; it’s completely intuitive to our needs. This is testament to the brilliant UX that has gone into creating the timeline. But not all timelines are the same – and there is no set rule on how they should be designed.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have spent a lot of resources getting their timelines right, and are constantly updating their designs to factor in new needs and desires. But as timelines go, these examples are fairly basic, focusing on singular entries rather than the continuity of events in time.

Some timelines need to summarise a great number of events and information over varying time periods, ranging from one hour to over a year. For example: digital calendars, personal planning apps, and business, delivery or shift planning programs. The entries in these timelines can belong to different categories, have different states and contain multiple details. They might also require users to take actions, filter or re-organise information in different views, or any other function relevant to the task.

So, what’s the best way to deal with complex timelines? Here are five suggestions based on our experiences.

How to design a complex timeline

1. Find your “pivot”

It might seem obvious, but you need to figure out your main data set – a conceptual pivot around which the corresponding events can be organised. What’s the unit of measurement of your timeline? What’s the set of data your users can use to orient themselves?

With an office planner you might need to list, see and edit your employees’ day schedules. In this example, employees could be your ‘pivot’, and their tasks move the corresponding information.

Example of employees used as “pivot”

2. Show only what’s necessary

Complex timelines usually show numerous events for each screen. Each event can include information like dates, times, places, people, descriptions etc. Displaying it all at once would be overwhelming, so you need to focus on the essential information. In most circumstances, this will be enough for users to understand and differentiate events. If you do need to show more, use progressive disclosure to enable users to easily access secondary information.

An example of a calendar showing essential information. Clicking on single events reveals more information

3. Choose your style

Timelines come in all shapes and representations. There’s no general rule for how they should look.

The style you choose depends on the data you need to show. Your design should provide users with the easiest way to navigate through the content.

For example, if your reference time span is one day and your timeline caters for up to 200 employees per day, it should be organised vertically. In general, vertical scrolling is easier and more familiar than horizontal scrolling.  

Timelines come in a variety of shapes.

4. Differentiate content

Colours are an easy and powerful way to differentiate content, especially when using familiar colour-coding, like green for positive and red for negative. Colour coding can be helpful in distinguishing between different categories e.g. holidays, meetings, project work and/or different states e.g. started, scheduled, completed or cancelled.

However, colour alone is not enough, and not only for accessibility reasons. Using too many colours can become confusing and ambiguous. Always accompany colours with labels, icons, initials or whatever tools you have to make the content clear and easily scannable.

An example of using colours and labels to categorise events.

5. Use animations wisely

Animations can make interfaces look more appealing – but use them wisely, especially for services which are meant to be efficient rather than beautiful. Make sure animations help rather than obstruct your users’ interactions. Use them to highlight changes and important content or save users some work. Keep it simple, and let your users move around as they wish, without being restricted.

Conclusion

The general rule for designing complex timelines and services is less is more. This doesn’t mean hiding important information for the sake of beauty. But it does mean making life easier for people and lightening users’ cognitive load. Showing too much is not only overwhelming but it’s also unproductive. We’re not designed to consciously process too much information at once. While it might be tempting to display as much content as possible and let the user decide, this is not always the best call.

Talk timelines

Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business, service or product. Email us at info@newtidea.com

Image references

Fig 1: Allocate 
Fig 2: Square up
Fig 3: The Evolution of Western Dance Music
Fig 4: Harvest Forecast app
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Get emotional about your design

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Get emotional

about your design

Article 4 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Use the science of emotions to trigger customer responses and improve your UX design.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Emotions. Like them or loathe them. There’s no getting away from the fact that they play a fundamental role in how users perceive their experiences with services and interfaces. Data from IPA compared the outcome of campaigns that relied primarily on emotional appeal vs those that used rational persuasion and information. The results showed that the emotional campaigns performed twice as well, and delivered twice the profit*.

These are not results to be sniffed at. But to successfully tap into people’s emotions, you first need to understand how they work.

By gaining a greater understanding of how emotions work, you can increase the effectiveness of your designs.

The science of emotions

1. Emotions are grounded in rationality

Emotions play a crucial role in how we react to situations. Without them, we wouldn’t run away from danger, behave soberly in serious situations or be protective of vulnerable people. Emotions have the evolutionary advantage of triggering actions we wouldn’t make otherwise. They activate us.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Emotions aren’t the enemy diverting your users in unknown directions. They are an opportunity for you to lead users the way you want them to go. For example, if you’re selling bungee jumping sessions, build excitement from the start. Show the sheer joy of bungee jumping and awaken their sense of adventure. You’re selling a lifestyle, not a jump – so make visitors want to part of the action.
  • Use UI elements like images, videos, text and colours to set the right tone. For example, dark colours for vehicles or minimalist fonts for luxury brands.

2. Emotions are subjective

Behind every emotion there is a personal concern. This means that an event can trigger a certain response in one person and a different or no response in another. Emotions are strictly connected to personal knowledge, beliefs, experience and personality.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Focus on your target audience and don’t expect to have the same impact on everyone.  In the bungee jumping example, some people will never want launch themselves off a bridge, however fun you make it look. That’s fine. Focus on the people your product or service will appeal to.
  • Use images or messages that are highly shared and sharable. Avoid anything that could be perceived as offensive or partial.

3. Emotions are also mostly social

Many emotional states are triggered by social events. Judgements or compliments affect of us. Most of our unspoken social life is regulated by the empathetic ability to understand other people’s emotions and react appropriately.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Empathise with your users. Try to foresee their emotive and motivational states when using your service – and react accordingly. Conveying positive emotions is an obvious choice for attracting and engaging visitors. But other emotions can also trigger responses, for example, awareness campaigns might use imagery and messages to raise feelings of compassion or guilt.
  • Give users emotions that will make them feel socially satisfied.  For example, Luxury brands underline the scarceness and uniqueness of their products to make their customers feel special.

4. Emotions are culturally defined

While basic emotions, like fear or joy, are relatively independent from culture, complex emotions like embarrassment, jealousy or guilt are connected to culture.

For example, being chatty and friendly with strangers might be considered normal in some countries and awkward and inappropriate in others. Laughing in Japan might be interpreted as a sign of confusion. In India, giving a gift with your left hand might be considered offensive. Being late for an appointment might be fine in Italy or Latin America but unacceptable in Germany. Jealousy might be considered very differently in polygamous cultures.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Keep in mind the specific culture you’re designing for, if there is one, and its belief system.
  • If your service is global, adjust content and messages for different countries. For example, Netflix has different programmes for every country.

As with the other cognitive processes covered in the previous articles of the series, emotions can be unpredictable. It’s difficult to know or foresee what customers are going through and what they’re feeling. What we can do is learn more about how emotional states work and the role they play. Then apply that knowledge to design better products.

Find out more:

* Read ‘Powerfully emotional advertising’ by IPA

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Three ways to influence customer decision-making
  4. Get emotional about your design
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Discover the power of service design

By | service-service-design, Services | No Comments

Discover the power

of Service Design

Get to grips with Service Design and see how it can boost your business

BY
AMANDA SALTER

Strategy Director

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Social-Mail-Green-31pxSocial-Twitter-Green-31pxSocial-LinkedIn-Green-31px

Increased sales, lower running costs, happier customers and a more engaged workforce. These are just some of the results being reported by businesses that have adopted a Service Design approach. Forrester describes it as “the most important design disciplineand with many forward-thinking businesses reaping the benefits; it’s not hard to understand why.

What is Service Design?

“Service Design is a human-centred design approach that seeks to design end-to-end experiences and the underlying business systems that support them.”

Leah Buley, Forrester 

Service Design looks at every aspect of the service that your business offers, across every touchpoint in the real world and digital. Currently, it is primarily used across things like government and healthcare – i.e. domains that offer a public service, for example the NHS. However, more and more businesses are waking up the realisation that there’s a lot to be gained in adopting Service Design thinking.

Benefits of Service Design:

1. Makes your entire organisation more customer-centred, which can only ever be a good thing.

“The more successful our customers are, the more successful our business becomes.”

Jeff Gothelf, Sense and Respond

2. Helps you discover new products to solve knotty problems and deliver business profitability and customer satisfaction.

3. Gives visibility of your customer touchpoints through the end-to-end journey and highlights places where the customer experience is disjointed or fragmented.

4. Pinpoints opportunities and helps you decide the initiatives that will make the biggest impact to your business and customers.

5. Promotes a shared understanding and vision by aligning different departments and helping you engage the entire business.

6. Helps you to integrate new touchpoints, product or services seamlessly within your existing ecosystem of products and channels.

7. Gives you a competitive edge. A Service Design case study for Yhteistyöapteekit (YTA), the largest pharmacy chain in Finland, reported:

  •   47% growth in customer volume
  •   4 out 5 customers extremely likely to recommend
  •   69% growth in prescription drugs
  •   300% increase in sales of new wellbeing services

How to use Service Design

Business are using Service Design as the central approach to product strategy, product innovation, and product design.

Often, Service Design kicks in at the point when businesses decide they want to drive differentiation and transformation. However, you can also use it to analyse and optimise your current product or service experience. There is a lot of value in simply understanding what your landscape looks like today.

Principles of Service Design

Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider describe the five principles that lie behind Service Design in their 2014 book “This is Service Design thinking” 

These are still spot on today. Service Design should be:

1. User centred – put your customer front and centre

2. Co-creative – stakeholders from different departments collaborating together

3. Sequenced – visualise experiences as a sequence of interrelated actions or events

4. Evidenced – experiences must include something tangible that will persist beyond just memories

5. Holistic – consider the wider environment and context within which the experience must live

Common Service Design techniques and tools

Service Design brings together a collection of emerging techniques and ways of thinking. One of the most well known tools in Service Design – and one that we use a lot at Newt – is the Customer Journey Map.

Other tools that come into play at various points can include:

  •   Service blueprints
  •   Service concept cards
  •   Affinity maps

Hopefully this article has given you a deeper insight into the importance of Service Design and the difference it can make to your business.

If you’d like to speak to someone about bringing Service Design to your company, drop us at line at info@newtidea.com

Read more about Service Design

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Three ways to influence customer decision-making

By | CX/UX | No Comments

Three ways to

influence customer

decision-making

Article 3 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Apply the psychology of decision-making to your design process to inspire customer loyalty and increase conversions.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Customers make choices all the time, from picking products and using services, to downloading apps and buying upgrades. An understanding of what drives decision-making enables you to adapt your design process and encourage more people to choose your brand.

Key decision influencers and how to apply them to your design

1. Logic and emotions

Decisions are guided by logic and emotions to varying degrees. The amount of conscious effort (i.e. the logic side) depends on the perceived importance of the decision. Bigger decisions like buying an expensive product or selecting a bank account will require more logical thought. More simplistic decisions, like choosing between similar websites, are mostly guided by emotions and unconscious snap judgements.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Use design to influence your customers both consciously and unconsciously
  • Give your customers the tools to make rational choices, especially when deciding about an expensive purchase or a long-term commitment
  • Use design to convey positive emotions and shape the path you want your customers to follow
  • Don’t overwhelm and confuse customers with too many choices – prioritise and streamline vigilantly

2. Heuristics and biases

As discussed in the first article of this series, our brain filters out certain information to be able to function in this over-complicated world. Another trick it uses is heuristics. These are mental shortcuts that allow us to make snap decisions and judgements based on what we already know about the world. For example, people have a tendency to choose recognisable brands and believe expensive products are better quality. Despite being essential, this over-simplification may lead to systematic errors that can affect decisions. For example, an over reliance on limited information, or a tendency to spend more on multiple small items rather than one larger purchase*.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Design for snap judgements. Before even considering a new product, people will unconsciously scan in search of familiar information and known characteristics they can trust. They will form quick judgements based on their beliefs, prejudice and experience. For example, a tech website is supposed to look fresh, professional and appealing
  • Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions and gut feelings. Make sure the first message you convey is the right one
  • Don’t overestimate the time people will spend making decisions about your service. Win their hearts quickly or lose them forever

3. Social influence

Society plays a huge role in the decision-making process. Whether we like it or not, we’re all influenced by societal expectations – even if our decision is to go against the norm. Every day we put great effort into preserving a consistent image of ourselves. We tend to be influenced by other people’s decisions and try to behave in a way that makes an impression and lets us stand out.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Consider trends along with best and most familiar practices
  • Discover the norm – what do your competitors do? What do people like and react to? Find out what works and don’t stray too far from that
  • If your product or service allows, make customers feel special and exclusive

A final note – prepare for the unpredictable

Humans are just that – human. We’re can’t be programmed and our decisions are not always predictable. We can react completely differently to the same situation from one day to the next. It all depends on how we’re feeling at any given time or if anything has triggered certain memories or past experiences.  

What can you do about it?

In truth, not much. After all, no one can predict the unpredictable, but there are a few things that will help.

  • Do your research – some behaviours are more recurring than other, rules of thumb and heuristics will work in a good percentage of cases, but not in all
  • Don’t be bossy – telling people how you want them to behave is a no-go. It doesn’t work and can be counter-productive. Instead, play on emotions and be persuasive rather than prescriptive
  • Observe how your design functions in the wild – track how it’s doing, and make sure there is an opportunity to revisit and redesign later on

Find out more:

*How a razor revolutionised the way we pay for stuff

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Three ways to influence customer decision-making
  4. Emotions
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Newt’s pick of the blogs

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Newt’s pick

of the blogs

We love to keep on top of the latest trends and developments. Here’s a selection of our favourite design and UX blogs we think you’ll love too.

 

 

Interaction Design Foundation

What they do: They release interesting articles each week and provide a lot of free resources.

Why we like them: They believe design education should be affordable.

Site: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature

 

Nielsen Norman Group

What they do: Release studies and articles about the latest trends and rules.

Why we like them: Quality guaranteed. They made history in the ergonomics/UX field and have a great team that is keeping up the good work.

Site: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/

Boxes & Arrows

What they do: Peer-written journal covering the practice, innovation, and discussion of design. It includes graphic design, interaction design, information architecture and the design of business.

Why we like them: Constant source of great articles since the dawn of UX; practical ideas on hands-on UX/UI, plus always on-point coverage of new trends in design thinking.

Site: http://boxesandarrows.com/

 

O’Reilly

What they do: Fresh views from across the pond on Design with a capital D. Also have great AI, Business and Data sections.

Why we like them:  Wider reaching and deeper thinking than many other UX focused blogs. Their newsletters are particularly good.

Site: https://www.oreilly.com/topics/design

 

Smashing Magazine

What they do: Relevant UX content, mixed with visual design and front end coding.

Why we like them: Always applicable and hands on and occasionally good freebies.

Site: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/feed/

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Turning data into knowledge

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Turning data

into knowledge

How to make sure users get heard during the design and production of digital products.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

User research is vital for successful products and experiences. After all, you need to know what your customers want to be able to build it. But how can you best gather and share that information in a way that is detailed enough to ensure the design of a meaningful product? While at the same time, concise and easily digestible enough to transcend different skill sets?

In other words, how can you make sure your user research gets translated into your end product? Renowned interaction designer, Jiri Jerabek may have found the answer.

I recently went to a presentation by Jerabek and was inspired by his commitment to embed user experience into product development. Jerabek explained how engaging his team with dense user information was not always effective. People would simply walk past his intricately designed infographics or just not read the reports he had so rigorously put together.

This was a big problem. Without utilising the user research, designers were at risk of creating products that reinforced their own biases. And it is the desire to seek the problems that validate what is untrue that can really set a product apart.

So Jerabek looked for another solution – and came up with the idea of what he calls the ‘Lean Experience Mapping Tool’. This tool would allow designers and users to work together and quickly turn user data into knowledge. He trialled it for validity – and this is what happened.

 

How the ‘Lean Experience Mapping Tool’ works

1. Users were given a set of questions to fill in while using the app in the development phases

2. This let Jerabek find out exactly how users were feeling during the app, why they used it and at what point of the day

3. The users then uploaded their data directly to Google Plus

4. A small group of designers live scribed the user sentiment onto simple post-its and positioned them on a grid

The grid of live scribed user sentiments

 

The results

1. The success of this task was apparent when patterns started to emerge

2. User pain points and delighters were visible, so actions became clear

3. The app could be iterated to meet user needs without additional expense and helped the designers arrange their priorities

User patterns started to emerge and actions became clear

These results are a small reminder that a big budget doesn’t necessarily mean the best work is delivered. It is a commitment to putting the user at the heart of design and development that shines through in the end product.

Jiri Jerabek is the Principal Interaction Designer at Intuit and has previously worked at BBC R&D and The Telegraph. His presentation was part of the UX Crunch, Digital Showcase.

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Has Artificial Intelligence put a nail in the coffin for pollsters?

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Has Artificial Intelligence

put a nail in the coffin

for pollsters?

The next generation of AI taps into the data rich stream of social media posts to analyse the public’s attitudes and perceptions like never before.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Traditionally pollsters have only been able to analyse data from a small cross section of society in order to gain understanding of public political opinion. But in the run up to the US election, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by a team at Havas Cognitive set a new standard. With the help of AI, they were able to tap into a billion social media posts and gain a more rigorous understanding of public opinion. So much so that Havas Cognitive say that their data predicted Trump’s win from the off, despite most traditional polls consistently favouring Clinton.

Havas Cognitive’s AI used APIs and Natural Language classifiers that harvested data from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And unlike the political commentators and pollsters, it was trained to look at emotional responses. The AI was seeking key characteristics such as how the candidate’s tone and warmth was perceived by the public. Trump, overall, came across as ‘warm’ online. He used language you would hear at the dinner table and repeatedly used phrases like ‘I love my country’. While Hillary, though having multiple peaks of support, was consistently perceived as overly rehearsed, stoic and robotic.

What struck me, besides the realisation that my hashtags are measurable pieces of public data, was the underlying necessity to apply narrative to these findings. It is clearly now possible to measure anything and everything. But without the starting point of a hypothesis and a team to craft that message, it could all become overly complicated and irrelevant.

In the US election for example, the AI clearly shows that social media attitudes were more positive to Trump than pollster predictions. But the majority of people were still attached to their own human biases and could not believe Trump would win – regardless of the AI. But now we know, the data did not lie.

So could we trust the findings of AI, if effectively partnered with design and narrative in the future? And how can we use it to gain a better understanding of the people we are designing for?

We can’t predict exactly how AI will transform the future of digital design. But what is clear is that AI already has an immense pool of data to tap into and it’s only going to get bigger. The pollsters clearly missed a trick, but maybe the sooner we start using this technology the better prepared we’ll be.

The tool “EagleAI” was built by Havas Cognitive for ITV news and the presentation was made by Dub.

Read more

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Five SEO tips to improve organic search

By | CX/UX, websites | No Comments

Five SEO tips to improve

organic search

Having a fantastic website that is easy to use and meets your customer needs is not a differentiator anymore, but a necessity for any business. However, first your customers have to find your website. And while you can spend a lot of money on AdWords and other search engine advertising, investing a little effort in getting the basics right so customers simply find your website pays great dividends. Simply finding your website through a search engine, rather than clicking on paid for online ads is also called organic search.

 

BY
PHILIP BONHARD

Design Director

Discover how you can increase organic search traffic with these simple five tips.

1. Optimise your metadata and content

When Google indexes your pages it checks the metadata and first paragraph to find keywords.

Therefore ensure the following:

  • Your first paragraph contains the important keywords naturally but avoid keyword stuffing
  • Publish valuable content on a regular basis
  • Add image titles, ALT tags and descriptions

2. Create powerful content on a regular basis

Writing relevant articles / insights that are useful to customers will increase the chance of people finding your site. Content is king, right? Make sure that your content is relevant and better than that of your competitors, so don’t publish just for publishing sake.

3. Descriptive URLs

URLs that contain relevant keywords are generally higher ranked than those that are non descriptive.

So:

www.mywebsite.com/findoutaboutcustomerexperience

Is better than:

www.mywebsite.com/pageid=32

4. SSL

Google has started ranking sites that have HTTPS / SSL higher. While getting a SSL certificate used to be complex and expensive, it isn’t anymore. Some of them are even free!

5. Be mobile friendly

Again, while Google is secretive about its search algorithm, it is well known that Google search prefers sites that are optimised for mobile consumption. After all, a significant proportion of users will use their smartphones to browse the Internet.

Conclusion

SEO is a science in itself and there are many professionals and businesses that make a well deserved living out of it. The above is only a starting point, but the key is to start with some basics and optimise your SEO strategy based on analytics data.

Get further information and advice on how you can increase organic search traffic with these sites:

https://blog.monitorbacklinks.com/seo/increase-organic-traffic/

https://www.matthewbarby.com/seo-tips/

https://www.smartbugmedia.com/blog/8-ways-to-increase-organic-traffic

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Four ways memory can influence and improve design

By | CX/UX | No Comments

Four ways memory

can influence and

improve design

Article 2 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Use the psychology of memory to create experiences that will be remembered for all the right reasons.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

As mentioned in the previous article in the series, to design better solutions we need to understand the mind in order to change behaviour. Memory is involved in this and every process. When you ask users to recall a previous experience, make a decision, choose between alternatives or solve a task, memory plays a role. It’s just that most of the time we’re unaware of it.

By understanding how memory works, you create experiences that stick in your customers’ minds and encourage them to come back time and time again.

How to build experiences that will be remembered

1. Create fantastic memories 

Most memory processes are unconscious – but they form a lasting impression, even if we’re not aware of it at the time. So creating the right experiential environment for users is crucial.

When someone enjoys interacting with your brand or business, it encourages positive thinking – and research shows it’s easier for people to recall positive experiences. This in turn encourages certain behaviours, like repeat buying or friend recommendations.

Certain stimulus can also unconsciously activate concepts, images, experiences and feelings. By doing the right customer research you can find out exactly what makes your customers tick and use this to enhance your design.

2. Don’t picture memories as photographs

We may think of episodic memories as vivid photographs in our mind. However that’s not the way they work. Within minutes, we forget most of the surrounding “unnecessary” details of a worthy-to-remember episode and only the core memory survives.

Remembering is a reconstructive process. When we recollect an episode, the gaps are filled with credible but far from accurate details. However, we tend to overestimate the accuracy because of the vividness usually associated with recalling. Not only the memories themselves, but also the way we perceive them, changes with time. Quoting the Hindsight Bias definition: when we look at a situation retrospectively, we believe we easily can see all the signs and events leading up to a particular outcome. This means that asking directly about personal experiences will often result in inaccurate memories and misjudgements.

Creating good memories, especially first-time memories, will influence your customers’ behaviour in the long run. But don’t focus only on the moment. Consider the before and after as part of the whole experience. For example, AirBnB isn’t just a booking system for spare bedrooms; it has now expanded into providing experiences around trips.

3. Design for memory fallacies

Not only are our memories flawed, they are also affected by systematic biases and errors. Because we manage to keep only the essential parts, we tend to confuse things we personally experienced with things we heard or read. We mix similar memories or remember things as consequential that, in a broad context, are inconsequential. Also, we tend to have better recall of the initial and final bits of information and forget what’s in the middle. Think about the plot of a film or book, for example.

These errors usually don’t have a catastrophic effect on everyday life, after all they’re brain-tricks to keep memory storage available and fast working. However, they can have a great influence in situations where details are important.

In design, this means avoiding asking people to remember. Instead, remind them what to do, how to do it, and why. Use situational clues and familiarity to lighten the cognitive load. A good example is a video game where users can play the game in training mode first, and then get reminders during actual game play.

4. Reduce the use of working memory

Working memory is a part of short-term storage and is the process that assists us in everyday problem solving. It’s an accurate and conscious process, but incredibly time and space constrained as well as extremely consuming. It’s the memory we use, for example, when we need to dial a number without reading it. We mentally rehearse the number until the task is solved and as soon as it is, we forget it. This kind of operation is conscious, tiring, and delicate. Not only is the storage limited to 7 ± 2 items at a time, but every distraction can interfere and disrupt the task.

The best designs limit the use of working memory. This means prioritising tasks into short step processes, with visual guidance and progress bars.

More examples of different types of memory:

Prospective memory

This refers to what you intend to do. For example, you know you need to take the rubbish out, so leave it by the door – and then forget it. This is your Prospective memory playing up.

Episodic memory

This refers to the memory of autobiographical events. Episodic memory is the one responsible for totally or partially forgetting certain experiences. This is usually because the episode was not important enough for us to be stored or we were not paying enough attention. An example might be a funny anecdote your friends still laugh about but you can’t remember, even though everyone is positive you were there.

Semantic memory

This refers to your ability or inability to remember a historical date, the name of a politician or the capital of a country. We’ve all had times when we can’t remember the name of a certain actor, you know, what’s his name? He was in that film about an alien.

Procedural memory

If you’ve ever blamed your memory for being unable to drive a car or play guitar properly, you’re on to something – as that’s a form of memory too. Procedural memory is the things you’ve learnt that you don’t forget, like riding a bike.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and would love to find out how you’ve applied it to your User Experience. Let us know at info@newtidea.com

Find out more: 

Cognitive Psychology, Sternberg & Sternberg 

Cracking our elusive System 1

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Decision Making
  4. Emotions
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Top five ways to strike a balance between digital and human interaction

By | CX/UX | No Comments

Top five ways to strike

a balance between digital

and human interaction

We may live in a digital era, but the best customer experiences embrace the human touch.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

A recent talk from renowned customer experience expert, Adrian Swinscoe highlighted the power of insightful, customer-centred research in building exemplary experiences.  The underlying message was a need to balance digital and human interaction. Technology alone isn’t the answer, and human interaction should never suffer at digital’s expense. Only when technology is coupled with insightful human-centred research, can truly innovative ideas emerge.

With this in mind, here are our top five practical tips for a more powerful, humanised, digital experience:

1. Understand the value of cultural research

It pays to have a deep understanding of your different markets as fashion e-retailer, Zalando demonstrate. As one of Europe’s biggest online retailers, Zalando has a huge international following, and they’ve adapted their business model accordingly. In Italy, 29% of people don’t have a bank account. So Zalando offer their customers the option to pay cash on receipt. This unexpected adjustment gives customers the wow factor and has the potential to increase sales and create brand loyalty.

2. Be conscious of generational assumption

Millennials have a reputation of being tech savvy and only interested in self-serve. However, generational trend research has suggested this may not always be the case. When millennials are faced with situations that might be more complicated, for example dealing with finances, they prefer to see someone in person. Providing a physical place for people to seek expertise lets you reassure your customers that your business is genuinely there to help.

3. Use behavioural change techniques sparingly

There are tried and tested ways to change people’s behaviour, particularly for digital and web interfaces. Some of these theories were put forward by BJ Fogg and advanced in the book Hooked: how to build habit forming products. As interesting as this is for research purposes, we recommend using caution when implementing techniques like this in reality. To truly care for your customer it should come from a place of insight and authenticity. This means basing changes on what customers actually need, not what you can make them need. To build something relevant and meaningful, you must listen to your customer first.

4. Adapt a design thinking approach

When faced with a crossroads, organisations often jump to solution-orientated thinking, churning out the same ideas again and again. For example, build a new product that may patch the issue in the short-term but leads to new or repeating problems down the line. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to break the mould and get a fresh perspective. This is where design thinking comes in. This approach brings together what your customers want and need, with what is technologically feasible. Giving you the opportunity to innovate the right way.

5. Don’t rely solely on big data for the answer

Big data is robust and thorough, but it can also be disconnected from the real world. To bring things back to reality, mix your big data with targeted user research. Taking the time to explore customer needs and behaviours before your project goes into development can mean the difference between success and failure. It lets you uncover the gritty nature of people, and create hypotheticals and personas to establish a more realistic picture of your customers. You can then use this to build something that is truly worthwhile.

Adrian Swinscoe is the author of How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways To Make Customer Experience Amazing. His interview was part of the #MRX Talks Live lecture series and accompanying podcasts hosted by Dub Is Here, based in Shoreditch.

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How to use psychology to improve your UX

By | CX/UX | No Comments

How to use psychology

to improve your UX

Article 1 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

This first article in our Behavioural Design Series explores four ways Cognitive Psychology can feed into your User Experience.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Behavioural Design is a scientific approach, which applies the methodology and principles of Cognitive Science to the design process. This works to create solutions that are capable of changing established behaviours and introducing new ones.

Behavioural Design shouldn’t be confused with “Behaviourism” – a classic psychological approach that explains behaviour in terms of conditioning. This theory has since been dethroned by the so-called Cognitive Revolution, which looks at the need to understand the mind in order to change behaviour.

Why is this important to UX designers?

User Experience Design is all about user needs, but it’s easy to forget that users are people – and people are complicated, emotional, irrational and easily influenced. Shoehorning your users into particular boxes (i.e. our users are retailers so they need x, y, z) doesn’t really work, or at least only gives you half the story. To truly understand your users, you need to go beyond what they consciously say, to the processes that underlie their behaviour. This means tapping in to some Cognitive Psychology.

Focus on these 4 concepts of Cognitive Psychology

 

1. Don’t go for the easy answer 

Pop psychology loves to neatly bundle people into quick and easy brackets. Left-brained people are creative, right-brained people are logical, men communicate differently from women etc. Unfortunately, these are usually myths or oversimplifications. When it comes to the mind, nothing is simple. There are no such things as neural areas that work alone, decisions guided solely by emotions or reasoning, and phenomena explained uniquely by context or genetics. We don’t use only 10% of our brain and don’t perfectly remember events from 10 years ago.

How does this apply to your design?

Don’t jump to conclusions about your users’ needs and desires on the basis of their gender, age or job. All men aren’t sport-loving, beer-guzzlers, and all women aren’t make-up obsessed, shoe hoarders. Forget what you think about their behaviours and try to break down the barriers of stereotypes and mental schemes; you might discover unexpected things.

2. Be economical

Our brain is an amazing but limited machine living in a world of extraordinary complexity. There’s so much going on around us, that it’s impossible for our brains to process everything in detail.

To be efficient, we rely on categorisation and shortcuts to help us analyse the world in an acceptably fast and accurate way. This means our brains focus on relevant details and ignore everything else. For example, when you’re working on your laptop, you’re not focusing on the objects on your desk, as they’re irrelevant to what you’re doing. But the price we pay for selective focusing is that we commit errors, a lot of errors.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

The more complex a situation, the more details we need to ignore. This has a huge impact on design. Too much information in one place can result in people either ignoring most of it or being unable to make a decision. The trick is to prioritise, organise hierarchically, use progressive disclosure and make use of your UI tools to convey the message in the right way. Limiting and staggering information makes it easier to learn and remember. Once people internalise a concept with experience, they can use it automatically. For example, a computer game will gradually increase the number of controls and difficulty of quests as the player progresses through the levels.

3. Factor for errors

We are economical creatures and use existing mental structures, knowledge and experiences to make snap judgements about new situations. This leads to systematic errors and generalisations. We are predisposed to see events, attributes and categories as going together, even when they logically do not. For instance, the generalisation that all Italian food is good and all Italian people can cook. Biases and errors are also used to build and retain our self-image, and reduce the impact of negative feelings. For example, we tend to attribute failures to situational factors and success to personal factors.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

There are times when we all make mistakes, rely too much on impressions and irrational sensations, and are reluctant to admit when we’re wrong. Your users are no exception. By factoring this into your design, research and testing, you can improve the end experience. Observe the errors your users make and try to prevent them, as much as possible. Use visual elements like size, colour, font, icons and messages to avoid error-prone situations, and in case this is not enough, always offer a way back. For example, a brighter colour, bigger size and more reachable position to your primary CTA can improve click-through rates.

4. Be rational about irrationality

We like to think of ourselves as rational beasts that know exactly what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But, 95% of our cognitive processes are unconscious. Even when we try to judge a situation or make a conscious decision, those underlying processes are influencing our behaviour. It’s not only the logical factors that influence our decisions but also feelings, experiences, memories, situations and sociality. We are less predictable than we might think and often prone to overestimation.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

Don’t take it for granted that your users will be predictable and act the way you want them to. Keep testing over time in real life situations to learn more about your users’ behavioural patterns and what they really do.

Also, measuring unconscious body responses like sweat, facial expressions or eye movement can give more meaningful results than conscious ones. Because body responses are involuntary and can’t be filtered, they are a valid measure of our true experience.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and would love to find out how you’ve applied it to your User Experience. Let us know at info@newtidea.com

Find out more: 

Cognitive Psychology, Sternberg & Sternberg 

Cracking our elusive System 1

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve you UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve Design
  3. Decision Making
  4.  Emotions
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Create Customer Journey phases to improve your experience

By | Retail | No Comments

Create Customer Journey

phases to improve

your experience

Customer Value Frameworks for Supermarket Retail – Part 3 of 3

Supermarket competition has always been fierce, and the arrival of new, younger brands has shaken things up even further. A robust set of customer-centred strategic principles is crucial to helping you stand out, build loyalty and drive growth. Four models in particular have proved so useful, that together, they form our Customer Value Framework. This series of three articles looks at how you can use these to set the groundwork for change.

BY
AMANDA SALTER

Strategy Director

Call_icon_31px_olive_tint07786 657 504

Social-Mail-Green-31pxSocial-Twitter-Green-31pxSocial-LinkedIn-Green-31px

Customer journey phases should be a crucial part of your strategy and will help define your customer experience.

Customer journey phases give an overview of the stages a customer goes through when buying your products or using your services. The best customer journey phases are based on data-driven research, which means taking time to understand how your customers are interacting with you. Your phases should form a living document that evolves as needs change.

Below is a classic example of the phases in a supermarket customer journey. This is based on data we’ve uncovered through our work with supermarket retailers.

 

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Once you have established your customer journey phases, you can use them to:

1. Benchmark your experience

Stats and analytics from your existing customer feedback and tracking systems can feed into your customer phases to give the quantitative picture. This will let you determine how well your current experience is performing against each phase, from a customer’s perspective.

2. Highlight improvement opportunities

Your customer journey phases will show where you can address gaps in your offering to improve your customer experience. Research shows that improved experience can grow revenue by 5-10% over a span of three years. In the example above, we found gaps in Insight and Control, Avoiding Waste and Appreciating the supermarket.

3. Plan for the future

You can focus in or zoom out to get a bird’s eye view of your future planned initiatives and where they sit in your customer journeys. Are they in the right areas at the moment? What improvements will make the biggest difference to your customers?

4. Broaden your vision

Having an end-to-end view constantly in mind helps you look beyond the core activities of browsing, choosing, and paying. For example, are you offering sufficient aftercare? Or are there any at-home opportunities that would increase customer satisfaction?

Customer journey phases take time and effort to get right, but they’re worth it. The result is a better understanding of your customers and their journey, which you can use to improve experiences and build customer satisfaction.

Get a clearer picture

Need some clarity on the phases in your customer journey? We can help you identify behaviours and discover opportunities to increase sales. Improve your customer journey. 

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Sign up for our monthly insights on how to boost your business. Plus get our exclusive guide to Customer Journey Mapping.

LET’S GET TOGETHER

Interested in finding out more?
Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you!