Author Archives: louise

About louise

London based user experience consultant

Heuristic evaluation – a starting point

heuristic evaluation - louise ventris [usability, homepage, navigation, forms, feedback, search, content and trust]

Heuristic evaluation is often a good starting point on the outset of a new project and especially when you’ve got little data or research to work from. It’s also a great way of quickly getting familiar with a product, service or site

There are a number of ways to run a heuristic evaluation – ideally I like to work with a standard framework, which I will vary depending on the platform or device.

If you’re in a position to enlist others to help it can give a more balanced view of the product and it’s also a great way to bring the team together to consider the project.

I’ve pulled together a google sheet as a Heuristic evaluation framework which covers items I like to check in each of the following area.

Homepage

  • Is the purpose of the site immediately obvious
  • Are the main user tasks easily reached from the homepage

Usability

  • Can the user read the text easily [contrast, size of font]

Navigation

  • Is the site navigation simple to use [consistent and standard position]
  • User can easily locate where they are with in a site

Trust

  • Is the content easily readable up to date and accurate
  • It is easy for a customer to cancel a purchase, service etc

Content

  • Does the content uses plain english [jargon free and appropriate for the audience]
  • Is content easily readable [well labelled and chunked]

Search

  • Are search results well presented and provide accurate ranking
  • Are search results relevant to the device [not linked to a desktop site from a mobile search]

    Forms

  • Forms are broken down in to clearly understood sections

User testing approach and the customer buying process

I’ve been working on the testing plan for a large personal finance company.

The aim of testing is to understand customer behaviour during the purchase process and how we can help motivate customers through the journey. The purchase journey can be broken into a number of stages.
Recognition of a problem or a need
Product Search
Product Evaluation
Purchase
Expectation and use

As part of the customer research I’m using an online survey to gather customer requirements at key stages in the process. A secondary aim is to understand what devices customers are using and how they use devices differently. This should help inform the longer term strategic development of the site.

As well as the online questionnaire I’m running some face to face user testing. This consists of in depth customer interviews which inform the affinity or a behaviour model. [We can then assign features and functionally to ensure that customer needs are support by the product. ]

Usability testing the current web and responsive offer will highlight what is working and what’s not working so well.

Running the two sessions will give good insight into the strategic development of the product whilst also help make immediate improvements to the product.

Integrating key customer transactions with the Council’s CRM was never going to be straightforward

The transactions we’re looking at include reporting a missed collection, requesting a bulky item and requesting a bin, bag or box. Customers can already achieve these tasks online but the back end processes are clunky. The forms don’t gather enough information which often resulting in additional calls. They are sent to a Customer First Representative who inputs the data to generate the service request.

The user experience of the forms has to be simple and straight forward and fully controlled. Customer will be directed through a managed process with no risk of them getting it wrong. This could quite easily result it an increase in Service Requests rather than a decrease in Customer Contact.

Council the public and health

Socitm and NHM Choices Event 21st March, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester.

One of the key themes from today’s event was exploring the relationship between Health and Councils.
According to Socitm – a quarter of residents think that Councils provide services such as hospitals, dentists and healthcare. A significant number of residents come to Council websites looking for information on health. This is estimated at 3% out of those 3% – 50% don’t find what they’re looking for. Local authority healthcare reforms are likely to add to the confusion and drive increases in unavoidable contact.

Each year councils receive over 72,000 calls relating to Health. Resulting in unhappy customers who are not finding the information they need, and impacting costs to councils.

The top 5 health related searches
• Contact information
• Jobs and training
• Adult social services
• Carers and care packages
• Disability [support and advice]

The top 3 recommendations were pretty common sense.

• Eliminate jargon – ensure that plain language is used throughout the site.
• Create well designed, accessible forms.
• Use all opportunities to promote online – the example given was library cards – having the web address.

Hampshire Council was put forward as an example of good practice

NHS Choices offer a range of packages available for syndication, including
Find Services, Carers Direct, Behind the headlines, Live Well, Health a-z conditions, Planners, Comments and Interactive tools.

NHS Choices syndication

Dr Alan Goodman – Met office – correlation between weather and Health – again met office offer a range of widgets

Better Connected – Martin Greenwood – SOCITM

Three main strands

• Think customer
• Be obsessed with top tasks
• Go Mobile

Two other points that were touched upon were the use of Social media and Hugh Flouch’s research on

Online Neighbourhood Networks

    Interesting observation from the morning

Liverpool have reduced their site from 4500 pages to 400 pages and strongly argue that devolved content management doesn’t work. That have actively removed all content from the site that isn’t relevant to their customers.

Calderdale and the Social Care and Wellbeing Hub

Calderdale Council have just launch the Social Care and Wellbeing Hub. The site was developed in conjunction with the Web team, ICT and Social Care. The finished product is all about helping local people find information on health and social care services and products.

Social Care and Wellbeing Hub

The Hub offers two main functions – a directory of services and an events register.

Service providers are able to add information about their own services and products. It gives information about private businesses and voluntary and community groups as well as the Council and the NHS.

The events registers stores information about relevant events in and around Calderdale. The themes the the Hub covers are:
Advice and advocacy, Education, training and work, Health and wellbeing, Help at home, Money matters, Neighbourhood and community, Sports and leisure, Staying safe, Travel and transport, Your home.

Do customers really know what they want?

Sometime customers think they know what they want, but the reality can be very different.

http://gerrymcgovern.newsweaver.ie/lbziav8x76118oi9rbfqfq?email=true

The worst way to design a website is to have five smart people in a room drinking lattes. The longer you leave them in the room the worse the design becomes. The next worst way is to have 15 customers in a room drinking lattes. What people say they do and what they actually do are rarely the same thing.

Error rates on forms

Forms can be very tricky to get right, and we aim to monitor the success rate on our forms, some of which do have high error rates. It is useful to get an idea of a base level, its’ a helpful gauge when looking to optimise.

Jane Frost, Director, of the Individuals Customer Directorate at HM Revenue & Customs
‘Reality Check: What Your Customers Will Actually Do’

Customer-focused design based on user testing for forms, and all communications, is essential to reduce error rates, she said, although councils should be realistic: “With forms, there is a 5% error rate when you just ask people for their name, and with anything involving a calculation it is over 50%. This suggests that a form that is 10 questions long, even with the simplest questions, will have a base error rate of 25%.

http://www.communities.idea.gov.uk/c/643937/blog/blog-display.do?id=7948311