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Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

The User is Always Right

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When you are designing a website it’s easy to fall into the trap of designing it to yourself. But you need to remember, you’ve got an audience that might not be the same as you. You need to consider your target audience and what are their interests and behavior. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Even if you’ve got a very specific audience, you still have different people! You need to consider those differences in order to try and please everyone.

Steve Mulder, in his book ‘The User is Always Right’, writes about how to understand the users goals, what are their expectations and needs. There are different techniques that can be used to find those answers, but Steve specifically talks about the use of personas in order to accomplish those things.

User-driven Experience

First, you need to focus in a user-driven experience. This means you need to design features that are going to be useful to your users, they cannot be just cool features that are sitting in your website to make it look cool. To understand what is useful you need, as said before, understand your target audience. From there, you can start creating your personas. Each persona, which can be fictional or not, consists of pictures, names and a background. In order to get those, you need a good qualitative and/or quantitative research.

Qualitative VS Quantitative

Quantitative is based on surveys and usage data. Qualitative is based on interviews and observation. Qualitative usually takes more time and it’s more expensive, but it can be worth it. You just need to know exactly what you need to make the right decision. The best way to do it is to use qualitative to get insights and quantitative to validate those insights.

Building a Persona

Usually in order to create the right personas you will first interview real people. You can start with people you know, who you have easy access. But in case you have a nice budget you can interview people on the streets in exchange for an incentive, money usually works. From those interviews you will then focus in one or more situations you need more research on. As an example, let’s say you are developing an online grocery store. From the interviews you found that a group of people like to stay healthy, therefore nutricional and ingredient information is essencial while buying. You should create personas that are motivated by that, so you make sure those people are pleased with the information and features displayed in the website.

Let’s meet Frank…

Frank, 66 from Sun City, California
Single with two adult children and three grandchildren between ages 2 and 8. Retired financial planner

Primary Goals: Find a well stocked and reliable health food website that notifies you if something is out of stock and gives you potential substitutes that you can choose if necessary.  He is involved in the organic food movement.

Motivations:  Stay fit and healthy so he can play with his grandchildren.  Wants to attract women.

Hobbies: Likes to play golf, shuffleboard, cook for his family and visitors.

Behaviors: He likes to do his big food shopping online and then buys smaller, specialty items locally.  Since he is very involved in his grandchildren’s lives, he does not always have time to get to the local stores before they close.

You need to know what is right for you

There are thons of different templates to display personas. You need to know the information you need in order to build them in a way you will have everything you need. Building personas can be fun! But you can’t forget you’re building them in order to achieve a goal, give your website a user-driven experience.

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Written by Cristina Dresch

July 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

The Elements of User Experience – The Five Planes

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Jesse James Garrett, author of The Elements of User Experience (great book, by the way), says the user experience design is a process applied in order to ensure all actions of the user happen as planned. To accomplish this is necessary to understand the user’s expectations and behavior, which will affect how the product you are designing looks, how it behaves and what it allows the user to do. It’s not a simple process, for that reason, JJG breaks it down in five different planes – surface, skeleton, structure, scope and strategy.

Strategy Place

This is the first plane, “the foundation of a successful user experience”. It defines both what businesses and users want to get out of the product. Sounds simple, but this has to be clear and straightforward. Every decision in the process has to be backed up by this definition. It’s also essential at this stage to define the success metrics, indicators that will be used to track whether the product is meeting the right objectives.

Scope Plane

When your strategy is determined, you need to start focusing on the scope, which is fundamentally defined by the strategy itself. In the scope you identify the content, features and functions that are going to be used in your product. By going through these requirements, you’re forced to address potential issues right at the beginning.

Structure Place

At this stage the scope turns into a conceptual structure of the product, which cares about how the system behaves in response to the user. It’s also about the arrangement of elements that will facilitate the understanding of the user about the product being designed. It’s important to define which options patterns and sequences will be presented to users, how they will perform and complete tasks focusing on delivering the right information to the user.

Skeleton Plane

Here the structure is further refined, where aspects of interface, navigation and information design will be identified. This will “make the intangible structure concrete”.

 

Interface Design “is about selecting the right interface elements for the task the user is trying to accomplish”, and then arranging them in a way that will be easily used and understood. Remember: Focus! What is the most important element in your interface? Make sure the users notice them.

Navigation Design deals with three main goals: provide users with a means to get from one place to the other, communicate the relationship between different elements and make sure users understand the relationship between the content and the page he’s currently viewing.

Information Design is about making decisions on “how to present information so that people can use it or understand it more easily”. It’s very easy in theory, but in practice it might get complicated. Remember to always ask for the opinion of the user!

Surface Plane

Here is where “content, functionality, and aesthetics come together to produce a finished design that pleases the senses while fulfilling all the goals of the other four planes”. You need to decide how the design will be presented. Depending on the product designed, difference senses (vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) should be used.

Written by Cristina Dresch

June 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Social Media and Customer Engagement Cycle Stages

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As I already said here, social media is a great way to engage with your current and prospect customers, creating a more meaningful relationship that will hopefully lead to higher loyalty and awareness, resulting in increase of sales. Basically this means social media can be influential in any of the customer engagement cycle stages – awareness, interest, conversion and advocacy. But don’t try to do it all! You want to focus in one stage, which will hopefully naturally lead to the others.

So, before starting to use social media it’s necessary to identify which goals you, as a business, is planning to achieve. Let’s check some different scenarios:

1. Returning customers level is low

You managed to achieve one of the most important goals in any business, gain customers! Unfortunately, you’re not keeping them, which is a huge issue. This might be happening because of different factors: (a) your product is not good enough (b) there’s no value to the customer in keeping a relationship with your brand (c) customers are quickly forgetting about you. You can solve any of these issues through social media, by engaging with your customer and asking for feedback. Why not create a channel for customer service, which will be responsible for contacting the customer after one week he purchased from you? This way you make sure he doesn’t forget about you and that he actually enjoys the product. But remember, you need to add value for him as well. Depending on your brand, value can range from offering good content to giving good discount in future purchases.

2. Business needs more clients

Your sales are simply not good enough? And you have already tried reaching to current customers and offering them deals to make sure you increase revenue over one single customer? This might not be enough. You need awareness! People need to know your business exists in order to gain new customers and reach a new audience. Social media is the perfect place for that. First you need to clearly understand who your audience is. Then go through different channels (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc) and find them! You need to know who they are and then create your social media presence around that. Don’t wait for customers to go where you are, you need to go where they are. Then you need to start reaching out to them, don’t be shy; you must be confidence about your product. If you believe it’s going to be beneficial to them, why not? If you’re targeting the right audience, they will thank you for that!

3. Customers are not converting

So, you’ve got traffic but people are not doing what you expected them to do. This sucks. There are so many different possibilities for why this is happening, so first, research. This might be solved without any help of social media. Analytics is the best tool for that. Make sure this is not an usability issue. If it’s not, move on the content strategy. People need to understand what your business is about. Ask friends, family, and colleagues to go through the content and make sure at least they understand what is going on. You might realize your product is not easy to market, and there’s when social media can be a strong player. Social media is a great place to educate people about your product, make people interested. You can do that by creating multimedia content, which always helps with interaction and engagement. Identify people from your company or in the market who can add value, are passionate about the products. If you can’t think of anyone, do it yourself! What a better advocate then the business owner? Of course, don’t be too selly. The whole goal is to educate people and make them interested, and then they need to find the value by themselves.

So what does that mean?

If you work on specific goals your business is trying to achieve, the success in social media is always going to be more measurable and reachable. Again, don’t try to do it all! Hopefully by focusing in one specific stage of the customer’s engagement cycle you will then influence the others, leading to a complete successful cycle achieved through social media.

Written by Cristina Dresch

June 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Posted in Planning, Social, Strategy

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