Why Conduct Website Usability Testing?

To improve the performance of your site, you need to recognise how people are consuming it. Usability testing helps in assessing how a user can accomplish a given task on a device. During a usability test, a user is asked to complete certain tasks, usually while being observed by a researcher, to reveal possible user problems. Usability is defined as how smooth an object is to use. The object can be almost anything, like a machine, tool, process, book, software application or website. (Nielsen 1990) During usability testing, a subject is asked to talk through the thought process while completing the task. Thus, the researcher can understand the action of the subject. The researcher sensibly watches the subject’s activities and attends to the speech.

Once, Margaret Mead, a famous scientist said, “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

In my opinion usability testing is especially significant for websites. A full websites performance would be entirely determined in part by its usability. The users should be able to navigate to websites’ conversion pages easily. So, people will enjoy using sites that are intuitive and easy to browse, however, they stop scrolling if the sites are confusing.

From my research, I have paraphrased few guidelines to evaluate my own website. Firstly, Keep information which is relevant and needed. Display only important visual elements and text – no more or no less. All unnecessary additions compete with visitors’ attention. When a change is made on, provide feedback to the user, the changes can be like icon animation or image showing the visitor that their task was successful. Try to use words, phrases, and ideas that are familiar to the user, and avoid buzz words that few really understand.

The website should be consistent, follow well-known conventions when possible. Don’t confuse users whether different words or ideas means the same thing. Action and options should be visible to the users, so they don’t have to remember from one point to other. Don’t make the visitors think because most of them are busy, distracted and much less invested in our sites. If a user unknowingly gets redirected to a wrong page, be sure there are easy ways to go back and start over and continue through a different way. The website should be accessible for novice users, but also measure to speed up the involvement for expert users; ideally in a way that are invisible to the new visitors. Give guests the freedom to customise as they browse through, in a way it flows with experience naturally. We should run at least one user study per week because it’s worth building a dedicated usability laboratory.

Remember, testing occurs at every stage of the process to keep the goal and the user in focus. If it comes down to a choice, please don’t sacrifice usability but reduce the scope of the website instead. The site will be fully implemented and navigable as long as we can close the door to keep out distractions.

References:

1. Usabilitygeek.com. (2017). [online] Available at: http://usabilitygeek.com/an-introduction-to-website-usability-testing/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2017].

2. Molich, R., and Nielsen, J. (1990). Improving a human-computer dialogue, Communications of the ACM 33, 3 (March), 330-350.

3. Nngroup.com. (2017). 10 Heuristics for User Interface Design: Article by Jakob Nielsen. [online] Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/ [Accessed 18 Apr. 2017].

4. Nielsen, J., and Molich, R. (1990). Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces, Proc. ACM CHI’90 Conf. (Seattle, WA, 1-5 April), 249-260.

5. Nielsen, J. (1994b). Heuristic evaluation. In Nielsen, J., and Mack, R.L. (Eds.), Usability Inspection Methods, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.

6. Usabilityfirst.com. (2017). Usability First – About Usability – Website Design | Usability First. [online] Available at: http://www.usabilityfirst.com/about-usability/website-design/ [Accessed 18 Apr. 2017].

7. Nngroup.com. (2017). Usability 101: Introduction to Usability. [online] Available at: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

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My Start To Minimalism – Digital Story Proposal

Music is the greatest language in the world, people can understand the feeling or mood of the music while listening even though they don’t know the meaning. (Patel 2008) “Is music a universal language or not?”, This is the question to be proved through our reaction video. We should be able to communicate our idea to everyone in the audience equally with our Musicorum project, which is one of our goals to create a real fusion of multicultural idioms, without sacrificing anything.

My duty is to take care of the website, posters, editing and visual effects. The first challenge I faced in the assignment was to create the layout. I have tried almost all the default theme in Wix.com, but I wasn’t satisfied. And then I decided to make my own design with the minimalistic approach. I have experience creating minimalistic posters for few commercial films in India. With a minimal design, we thought we don’t have room to play loose. All the elements in the website will be deliberate, and elements serve the purpose. So we are forced to choose what’s absolutely required and reinforces idea consciously. The second thought was about the space, white space and breathing space. A good site that uses whitespace efficiently bears that sense of calm and authority.  In my opinion with the minimalistic idea navigation became much easier. The minimalist agenda to reduce the disorder also holds for the navigation menu.

For our background image, I thought of bringing a dark minimalistic touch to it. The whole website is created in a black contrast, and the texts and pictures are placed based on the background. Then we thought of the need of a logo. So I came up with a name which suits our assignment, i.e., “Muiscorum” which is the Latin word for music. In our logo, I tried to input our theme of cultural diversity and also the music is a universal language. The great challenge then comes with posters, I was completely blank. Putting our theme and idea into a minimal poster was very challenging, like what colour should be used, where the logo and text to be placed, etc.

Logo:

MUSICORUM

My classmate Wizing Han expressed the same problem. His approach was also through the minimalistic idea and in my opinion, he succeeds in his design.  Brujo Owoh is a Web designer who faced a similar issue with setting up the website layout. He describes it on his blog and how to get rid of it and other problems which can be arisen while designing a website. His suggestions are to create enough white space between the text and images using margins. Then to compare colour scheme of most major sites and notice how colours improve readability. He also suggests using a Sans serif typeface as it allows for easy reading on the web. Details from his blog helped me to make website’s layout better without the clutters, and with additional white space, it became much better in appearance.

Posters:

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Background:

POSTER VOCALS.jpg

Link to our proposal website:

https://cmwpass2.wixsite.com/musicorum

References:

  1. Patel, A. D. (2008). Music, language, and the brain. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  2. Slevc, L. R., Okada, B. M. (2015). Processing structure in language and music: a case for shared reliance on cognitivePsychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22, 637-652.
  3. Tan, S.-L., Pfordresher, P., & Harré, R. (2010). Psychology of music: from sound to significance. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  4. The Art Story. (2017). Minimalism Movement, Artists and Major Works. [online] Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-minimalism.htm [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].
  5. (2015). When Less is More – Why Minimalism STILL Rules the Web — SitePoint. [online] Available at: https://www.sitepoint.com/less-minimalist-websites-still-rule/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].
  6. Owoh, B. (2017). 11 Common Web Design Mistakes (Blunders). [online] HKDC. Available at: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/11-common-mistakes-blunders-in-web-design/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].

How do FACEBOOK ads work

Nowadays advertising on Facebook seems to be one of the most immediate ways to power the reach of our content.  As an ordinary social networker, we might think no one clicks on Facebook ads, but it’s a mistake because at present Facebook is on track to make 4  billion dollars in this year from advertising alone. Now there are many varieties of Facebook ads. The user can promote his page, post on his page or his website itself. (Stelzner 2010) Facebook advertisements are always targeted to users based on location, demographics and users profile details. All these options are available on Facebook ad manager. As soon as the ads are created user can set a budget and bid for each and every click or impressions that the ad will get. Other users see the ad on Facebook.com, i.e., on the sidebar. In my opinion, Facebook ads are more like display ads than search ads. In Facebook ads should be used to produce demand, not to achieve it. Facebook users are on the site to connect with their friends, not to shop or find products.

If a user visits the advertised website, he won’t be looking for a product, he might have clicked the ad on a whim.  The main mistake most advertisers would make with Facebook ads is not targeting the audience correctly. There are many target options namely location, age, gender, etc. There are also other broad categories including ‘Away from hometown’, ‘Has a birthday in one week.’etc. This kind of broad interests would be very efficient to reach a larger audience. (Chan 2011)  Facebook, the ad manager, has an interesting list of interests to target from Marvel comics to scuba diving. The most difficult part comes selecting the best target.

Social media knew a whole lot more things about us like whether we spent more time in Criminal Case or Super Mario.  Facebook probably knows everything about us like getting married soon, reading a detective novel, taking medication, etc. All these details give advertisers the power to reach us beyond the expectation. While deciding on an ad Facebook shows us the number of profiles we can target to each and every subcategory based on our interests and desires.

The most famous speciality of Facebook ads is the power to layer targeting options on one another, and gradually making users more and more accurate. One exciting example of the power of hyper-targeting which got from research is of was featured in AdWeek last year. In it, a marketing person targeted his roommate with ads so specific the poor guy thought he was cyber stalked.

Example to target a specific audience: If a car manufacturing company wants to put up a special discount offer for the aged people or senior citizens, he can layer particular detail, like finding people who is between the age of 60 and 65, and brought a house in the last few months. So, he might be needing a car soon. Realising whom to be targeted will help one to the most efficient ad targeting tool and easy routes to get to the target.

References:

  1. Stelzner, Michael. “Facebook Ads Strategy: How Marketers Need To Alter Their Techniques: Social Media Examiner”. com. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Apr. 2017. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-ads-strategy-how-marketers-need-to-alter-their-techniques/
  2. Chan, C., 2011. Using online advertising to increase the impact of a library Facebook page.Library Management, 32(4/5), pp.361-370.
  3. Dehghani, M. and Tumer, M., 2015. A research on effectiveness of Facebook advertising on enhancing purchase intention of consumers.Computers in Human Behavior, 49, pp.597-600.
  4. “Defining Your Facebook Advertising Strategy | Mailchimp”. MailChimp. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Apr. 2017. : https://mailchimp.com/resources/guides/defining-your-facebook-advertising-strategy/html/

Digital Marketing

Marketing of products or services through online digital media and which differs from old traditional marketing in that involves the methods and networks which help an organisation to analyse marketing operations and understand the working and what is not in real time is known as Digital marketing.  (Ryan 2016) Digital Marketers can monitor things like what is being viewed, for how long and how frequent, sales conversions, which content works and which did not work. Technology has supported most major milestones in the history of online marketing since its inception.

Nowadays digital platforms are increasingly united in marketing plans and everyday life, and as people use digital devices instead of visiting physical shops, digital marketing campaigns are becoming more widespread and resourceful.  There are many digital marketing techniques namely Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Campaign marketing, etc. Digital marketing provides the consumer with a previously unbelievable quality and quantity of information in an easily accessible form. (Wind 2002) At present customers can sort products or goods based on their desires like price, brand, value, rating, and also a combination of this attributes.

The tremendous advance in technology is shattering walls between industries as well, shifting the balance of power to empowered consumers and creating what information technology expert Colin Crook has called the emergence of a global grid. This global grid is a network of users, portals and servers offering free communication, scalability for even smallest corporations, total connectivity and universal digitalization. Let’s discuss latest developments and strategies in marketing:

Behavioural advertising is a marketing idea where information about the user is collected based on the online activity with the help of a particular device and across different, unrelated sites, to deliver marketing advertisements personalised to that user’s interests and preferences. Users generate a lot of data in every step they choose in their journey of a customer, and the brands can use that data to activate their known audience with data-driven programmatic media buying. This Data-driven advertising is empowering advertising companies to find their customers in their audience and help in delivering in real time a much more personal communication. (Chaffey 2012) Online promotion activity is still growing across the world according to the headline global marketing index. Digital media continues to increase rapidly; while the marketing finances are expanding, old media is declining (World Economics, 2015).

Sending a great user experience and gaining the associated benefits is complex and there is a lot to consider, and I have only really touched the surface in this blog.

Reference:

  1. Ryan, D., 2016.Understanding digital marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. Kogan Page
  2. Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012.Digital marketing. Pearson Higher Ed.
  3. Chaffey, D., Smith, P.R. and Smith, P.R., 2012.eMarketing eXcellence: Planning and optimizing your digital marketing. Routledge.
  4. Wind, Y.J. and Mahajan, V., 2002.Digital marketing: global strategies from the world’s leading experts. John Wiley & Sons.