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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
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.

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.

Progressive Enhancement

I like the idea of exploring progressive enhancement with my site. PE is adding advanced styling to the page which allows users with more sophisticated browsers a more richer experience. I particularly like the idea of not having to get everything polished in all browsers, this will save so much time and it’s also great to be able to try out new features with out waiting for them to become mainstream.

Reusing patterns and components to creating a more holistic approach to the design

The reuse of patterns and components creates a more holistic approach to web based application where products can be scaled up more quickly. The idea is to continually build on current knowledge and not reinvent the wheel. Designing a set of standards which provide the foundations that designers can build on.  This approach is not as rigid as reusing templates – it’s more designing the concept of a component which can then be recreated in a number of different situations. There can be issues that this restricts creativity but as outlined in the Components versus Patterns article but you don’t need to be creative 100% of the time. Not everything requires innovation, novel ways of getting people to login aren’t necessary and the aim is to focus innovation on key areas.