MN Search – Mobile Search and Usability

phoneSo…   Google announced that mobile optimization of the web sites is very important.  4.7% made the adjustments.  Should large, multi billion dollar companies be worried?  Maybe not, as their primary competitors are in the same boat 🙂

Though Google is using mobile usability for ranking, does a company have to make sure the site is actually responsive?  It is possible to have a separate mobile site, what will require coding to “tell” google that it is a version of the main, not mobile site.

Images are affecting mobile score – as images increase download time.

Interesting: 90% of people do not know what “hamburger” menu mean…  Yes, even if most of middle-age marketers think they were born with this knowledge 🙂 The best is to use “Menu” together with the hamburger, or just “Menu.”  The world did not stop April 21st 2015.  Google’s objective could have been to make people aware that mobile usability is the ranking factor.  Maybe because the trend was not going into the right direction…


Though the data is overwhelming:

  • Walmart – 1 second faster load, 2% conversion lift
  • Staples – 1 second faster load, 10% conversion lift

Mobile usability

Suggesting a scroll increases scrolling and conversion



Mobile sites need to provide content relevant to the users – for the correct context.  The most popular link on many mobile sites is “view desktop version.”





Many mobile users call the business rather than do anything else.







Full Angie’s slide deck

Book – Rocket Surgery Made Easy

rocket-surgeryThe book is an excellent guide for people trying to do usability testing in-house and without a dedicated group or person.

The target audience is probably developers rather than marketers as the book does not address questions of conversion optimization and keeps the guide reasonably short and immediately useful.

Interesting points from the book:

  • Recommendation – testing other companies’ sites on the same topic to understand problems before creating your own site (or even testing your own site).  “Someone has gone to the trouble of building a full-scale working prototype of a design approach to the same problems you are trying to solve, and they they have left it lying around for you to use. ”  🙂

Plus, watching the test first time can be a shock for people who are new to the process – starting from the competitor site can help them to put the process into perspective

  • usabilityExact target audience is not always needed for testing (at least initial testing). Many problems has nothing to do with domain knowledge and related to basic components such as navigation, layout, etc.
  • Testing once a month with three users is enough – most significant problems will be found.  More tests can create more notes than will be later considered
  • Tricking executives for coming just to “drop by” to boost morale and show importance of the task, can result in a very interested executive
  • serious problems should be corrected before “next redesign” – but the correction should be as minimal as possible.  Waiting for the “next redesign” does not always lead to any change for a long time.
  • Some problems may not be possible to correct quickly as they might be symptoms of a larger unresolved conflict – site purpose or company’s mission
  • Remote testing gives 80% of the benefits of a live test with about 70% of the effort

Video example of a typical usability session described in details in the book (below)

Main points from the book from the perspective of the author 🙂


UXPA – Collaborating with Clients during Research and Design

uxpa-logoThis unusual (and very informative!) event-tour took place at the offices of Eaton Golden – a local User Experience consulting firm.  We toured the lab and listened to a couple of presentations on collaborative research and design.

EG-4The office is located in a very beautiful place – a “garden” area of Bloomington most of us did not know existed.  The office is also filled with many beautiful and unique decorative items, which probably aid creativity.  I thought eh colorful bud lighting feature in the lab area was particularly unique.

A few points from the event:

  • The usability lab was deliberately designed to be a beautiful room with natural light and view of a secret Bloomington “garden” – typically, most labs are hidden in the dark and can create a rater depressing impression of a “solitary confinement” where the research participant is expected to work on web tasks.


  • The usability lab also has additional screens in the viewing area behind the mirror, which are synchronized with the monitor of the participant and his/her activity.  This arrangement allows each observer to follow the activities on the screen.
  • EG-3Interesting point on eye-tracking – it is not that beneficial for transactional web sites.  Eye tracking setup also requires calibration that can be distorted by person’s movements or just a glance to the researcher.  General usability research, when the participant navigates the web site trying to perform different tasks and explains his or her actions to the researcher seem to be sufficient.
  • The company’s approach is “not to prove or disprove, but to improve.”  Customer’s objective must be reasonable for qualitative research method; if the customer is asking a question requiring statistical validation, the qualitative research would not be useful.  Qualitative research answers the question”Why?”  rather than finding which color of the button is more effective (the territory of A/B split testing).
  • The company is trying to help optimize the user experience, to take the client on the next step of the web site/tool, that currently exists.  To accomplish that, one of the most important conditions is understanding constraints – political or technical – in advance of the project.  It is possible to work around the constraints if they are known in advance.
  • EG-2Ideal “customers” for the project are the people who actually work on the site, know the current product, and can make needed changes in the future.  Higher-level management commissioning the research may not have sufficient involvement in the project to be the effective partner in the research and design phases.
  • The purpose of the research also need to be understood; if the goal is to make changes quickly, the report can take one form, if the objective is to use the research results to request funding for the future site overhaul, the report will take different form.
  • Recommendation: only do as much research as actionable.  If resources will be available in the future, the research will need to wait also.
  • Observation: what a typical client thinks user objectives are often are not user objectives.  
  • Analysis is a “team sport” – clients participation helps to understand some elements of the behavior that might escape the researcher due to lack of intimate understanding of the industry.
  • Prototype scathing: low-fidelity scathing avoids a situation when the “suggested prototype” wins only because it looks better than other ideas – the person or a group had an opportunity to spend more time on the prototype creation.
  • Another interesting point of prototyping/scathing:  marking with one color what on the page needs to be de-emphasized and marking with another color what needs to be emphasized.  Interesting!  My guess, this is an excellent approach to resolve feature battles…. 😉

EatonGolden maintains a blog with quite interesting information and offers email subscription to the posts.  I subscribed 🙂


Jared Spool – Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon

Great event!  Though most of the recommendations seem very simple and straightforward  – they are a treasure 😉

Amazon is successful:

  • – 8th the most visited site in the world
  • 2008 – 29% increase in sales
  • Foresee customer satisfaction is one of highest and going up

How do they do it??  Here are 4 treasures of the Amazon…

1. Engage through content

Amazon uses reviews… Reviews were posted in chronological order… disregarding usefulness.  Amazon added “was this review helpful to you?” (this question brought millions in revenue 😉  )

Because people like to view negative reviews… Amazon shows favorable and critical reviews.

However, emulating Amazon does not always work.  Sufficient traffic is needed to receive enough reviews.

  • Reviews 1 : 1,300 purchases
  • Right amount of reviews – about 20
  • Considering 2% conversion, 1,300,000 traffic is needed on the site to generate optimal number of reviews.

2. Not fearing new ideas

Amazon experiments and has a culture that accept failure.  However, Amazon just “leaves” some unsuccessful features; Amazon is not good in “killing” unsuccessful features – they are crowding user experience. Internal process is based on:  “easy in – hard out”

3. Eliminate tool time

…you don’t have to enter user name and password to view your account options…

Though one-click paradise was difficult to introduced because of credit-card companies concern, it was accomplished.  Amazon’s security consists of four layers; first layers are based on cookies.

“Tool time” (dealing with the tool) is opposite of time that the consumer is looking at the product.

Redesigns  usually increase tool time (everything is new). Amazon approaches redesigns carefully.

4. Business model

Amazon turns its inventory every 20 days (Best Buy – every 74 days). Amazon pays bills every 45 days and uses cash float as a business advantage.


MIMA – Web Content

bookI was fortunate to attend a presentation of Ginny Redish, author of the best-selling Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works. I definitely plan to read the book!

The focus of the presentation was not usual perspective of SEO copy writing, but web content in general as a method of achieving business objectives. SEO is definitely important, but what actually “happens” when the user is found the web site…

Interesting points from the presentation:

Consider yourself a user and a web site as a “web story.”  Start with the goal: why the user wants to visit the web site?

The purpose of the content:

  • solve the problem
  • accomplish the task

Usability definition (which was created 30 years ago and still relevant – human beings have not changed):
The content useful if:

  • users can find what they need
  • users can understand what they found
  • users can act appropriately on their find
  • users believe that all the time and energy spent is worth the effort

Use of the web site is a conversation – use personas!

If you are not the newspaper – don’t focus on the news (particularly on the home page…)

Web is different from print. Who starts the conversation on the web site?  The user.

People don’t read the copy

  • people focus on what they need
  • people read just enough to satisfy their goals

Average time spent on the home page: 25 – 35 seconds
Site where people find something: about 4 minutes
Site which people abandon: about 2 minutes

Don’t hog the conversation – respect people’s time. It will increase the conversion rate.

Changing paragraphs to bullets generally increase the conversion rate.

Research in AARP: current generation of older people do read content on the web because they feel obligated to do so, not because they want to do it.

Web site must connect in the language the site visitors bring to the conversation.

A usual mistake in creation of a headline – using the internal language of the document that would not normally be available to anybody except people who expect it. For example: Roadmap for performance-based navigation. Very unclear what it could be…

Better headlines:
– How much do Americans pay for fruits and vegetables?
– How many fruits and vegetables do you need?

A marketer should think: How do I get my brand messages across through answering questions my users are asking? The users are starting the conversation.

First: answer the user’s questions; then market… This is the approach that is different from print.

Questions to ask before creating a web site:

  • What are my business goals?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What are the conversations my target audience wants to start?

However… find the marketing moment when the site visitor is ready.

Book sites are good example of utilizing marketing moments: first – they answer the most important questions (shipping time, price), and then book sites attempt an upsell by displaying other books the shopper might want. This works similar to the customer service – answering the question first and trying to upsell after answering the question.

Don’t miss the marketing moments by forgetting calls to action!

Best practices of writing copy:

  • main point first
  • set context
  • talk to your visitor
  • break info in chunks
  • respect visitor’s time
    • short paragraphs
    • short sentences
    • fragments, lists
  • all best practices came from linguists (working with conversations)

People skim and scan; if the section is broken into smaller chunks – more will be read.

Blind people also “skim” by reading only headings first; use <h> tag for headings rather than class.

Every web site needs a content strategy

  • Is your content planned?
  • Is it coordinated?
  • What does content needs to achieve?
  • What are the needs for the future?
  • Do you have a marketing plan?

Focus on content – think CONVERSATION.