UX

Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications


Small issues ==> bigger communications problems

23 Jun
2017
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication   |  No Comments

In the past several weeks, I’ve noticed a bunch of small communications issues with different organizations. None of them is big enough to merit a blog post, but they do cause bigger communications problems.

Making it extra hard to reach you

I met a graphic designer at an event a couple of weeks ago. I sent her a follow up email, and got an automated reply back from her email service telling me it didn’t recognize me and I would have to reply to the reply, so that I could be whitelisted. I’ve never seen that before, and I get why she does it. We are all bombarded by spam and other unsolicited email. But when you add an extra step to contacting you, especially when you’ve given me your personal email on a card, you are creating an obstacle to communication and slowing down any potential business. You have to balance accessibility with the desire for less email. I think if you are a business, you must be accessible.

Not including crucial information

The other day I visited microsite for an upcoming conference. It did not list the venue where the conference would be taking place, just the city and state. I’ve seen some conference websites that don’t list the full date of the conference. And many don’t list the price, but force you to hit the register button to find out how much it costs. If you are considering attending any event, you need certain information–where, when, how much and why. If your event page or site does not include crucial information, you are just making it hard for people to decide to attend your event.

Email from unknown senders

The other day I got an email from someone named Orlando. My first instinct was to delete, but something about the headline made me open it. It turns out that Orlando is a new employee at an organization from which I get a newsletter. And it was an organizational newsletter. I will never understand why organizations think it’s a good idea to send email from individuals rather than the organization. Unless you’re well known already, most people will not recognize you as the new CEO or communications director of an organization.

If your organization recently rebranded or changed its name, you may have to send an initial email from your old name. Last year,  I received an email from an organization I had never heard of and I was on the brink of hitting delete. It was communications related, so I figured I must have met someone from that organization at some point, but I wasn’t sure. It turns out that it was a new name for an old organization.

Opening external links in the same window

For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many organizations want to lose visitors to their websites. And yet, it happens more often than not than when you click on a link, such as the Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile, you are transported out of the organization’s website to the other website. It doesn’t take too much coding knowledge to have links open in new windows. That way, visitors can still be on your site and view the outside site.

Remember user experience, always.

All of these issues point to one overarching theme: user experience. What do users (visitors to your website, potential customers, potential supporters) experience when they interact with your communications? Are you considering what users need in order to do business with you? As the small issues I described above show, many organizations are not considering their users at all. And that’s a big communications problem.

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Successful companies are customer-focused

27 Apr
2017
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Design   |  No Comments

United learns the hard way what’s important

As you no doubt have seen by now, United Airlines has been forced to make several changes in the wake of the customer abuse incident seen around the world (where a passenger was forcibly removed from a plane and injured in the process). United has now released a report that concludes it let company policies trump customer’s rights, and is now making changes to focus on the customer. You can read more details in this Washington Post article: United dragging report: ‘Our review shows that many things went wrong that day.’  Also, today, United placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post (and I assume other large dailies) apologizing for its actions and outlining the policy changes.

It took very negative publicity and its consequences to make United realize that customers are the reason for being of any company. Without customers, a company simply does not exist. We know that companies that are more customer focused are also better regarded and therefore more successful. Southwest Airlines comes to mind.

UX is about your customers

All this brings me to UX (user experience) and how important it is. UX is being customer- focused when it comes to designing your website/app. If you don’t consider UX when you design, you are not being customer-friendly. It’s that simple.

Verizon FIOS On Demand versus Fandango Movies on Roku

Take the example of Verizon FIOS’ On Demand screen versus  Roku’s Fandango Movies  screen.

Verizon re-designed their On Demand screen a couple of months ago. They made fonts and images smaller, they crowded the images together and they changed the categories. Adding to that, the background is dark, making it hard to see the writing. To find out whether a movie is available for purchase or rental, you have to click on the title and only then will you be able to see what it costs.

Fandango has several categories on the left hand side of the screen, starting with “New movies to buy” and New movies to rent.” The background is a light color, the images are slightly bigger than Verizon’s, and easy to read. Just by scrolling through the titles you can see the price of the movie, its Rotten Tomatoes rating, its MPAA rating, and its length.

Fandango most definitely considered UX when designing its movie screen. It’s clear they thought about how customers search for movies, and what information (cost, time commitment, ratings) they need to make a decision. In contrast, the Verizon On Demand screen UX is plain horrible. It’s hard to search, hard to find the information you need, and in my opinion, it’s just ugly. Oh, and Fandango movie rentals cost less than Verizon’s.

Think about your customers, and it will pay off

In my case, I have been renting movies from Fandango and not from Verizon. I definitely find the Fandango interface easier to deal with. Additionally, I voiced my concerns to Verizon, and so far, they’ve made no changes. I don’t know if the redesign has affected sales, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Your customers and their experience with your company/brand/organization has to be your first concern. If customers are mistreated, they simply will not come back. And in this age of social media, any negative publicity is amplified. Your customer’s bad experience can be shared over and over.

Being customer-focused and thinking about their user experience will go a long a way in making any organization successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Where is the soap dish? (Or why UX is important.)

27 Aug
2013
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Websites   |  No Comments

Several weeks ago, I told you all about the awful experience that passes itself of as the Holiday Inn Express. One of the smaller, yet super annoying, things wrong there was the fact that in the (cramped) bathroom, there was no soap dish.  A stand holding the usual hotel toiletries, including soap bars, was cluttering the minimal counter space, but there was no place to put the soap once you opened the plastic wrapping.  The soap kept sliding  to the floor after I washed my hands.

Soap

Soap by Radio.Guy on Flickr

Just a few weeks before my stay at the HIE, I stayed at a boutique inn in the same city. Among the many amenities was a soap dish in the bathroom. It was a nice touch. It showed the inn had considered the guest’s needs (and that someone somewhere had actually used soap to wash their hands at some point, which apparently the managers at the HIE never had done).

It’s really very simple: You have to consider people’s needs and how they do things. Providing a great hotel experience OR an effective website DEPENDS on whether you are considering your end user (your guest, your audience). How does a person use your product? What does a person need to navigate your site?

Have you ever been to a website where you can’t find what you are looking for? I bet you have! Those websites are generally cluttered with tons of information that is not organized for the user but rather for the idiosyncrasies of the various organizational departments (Sales & Promotion says we need to include this, Legal says we have to include that).

The other day I was looking for a blog on an organizational website and I didn’t see it where you would normally. I figured it did not exist. I was wrong. It was under “publications.” Why? Because the Publications Department is in charge of the blog. Publications clearly doesn’t understand website visitors. Those visitors aren’t familiar with (nor do they care about) your organizational hierarchy!

This is where user experience or UX comes in. UX specialists are there to make your website friendly to visitors. If a visitor wants to find your calendar of events, he or she will find it easily instead of clicking through various places. There are ways to make website navigation easy and sensible.

Perhaps you are a small organization that can’t afford to hire a usability expert to assess and fix your website. Just think about the soap dish. Do you have what your visitors need? Where would they easily find it?

If you fail to think about how people actually use your product or service, then you will fail to serve their needs.

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.