On the 3rd of September, Usabilla hosted the third meeting of Amsterdam UX — a collection of UX professionals and enthusiasts throughout the city. The talk was of stakeholders, and how to ensure they listen to your professional opinion when changes are required, covering three key points:
- How do you persuade them to change something which appears to work?
- How can it be proven that one concept is preferable over another?
- Can the profitability of a redesign be justified or proven before implementation?
Martijn van Loon and Jacco Nieuwland from User Intelligence presented how they deal with these issues within their company.
They defined the problem as being a conflict of two distinct languages: ‘Design Talk’ (Mental Models, User Flows and Intuition) and the talk of the Stakeholders, ‘Business talk’ (Return On Investment, Key Performance Indicators and Conversion rates). How do these distinct languages and ideologies find common ground? The solution presented involved complementing the business-orientated numbers and statistics into ‘Designer Talk’, creating that common ground.
Stakeholder Persuasion – How to quantify your gut feeling
Through choosing methods which allow the collection of numbers, user research data and which can be statistically analysed; thus easily presented in the form of numerical data and diagrams. Presented were a wide range of tools, used to help researchers and designers throughout various stages of a project in order to collect this data and communicate them to the stakeholder. We all know business people love numbers!
This design process has five distinct stages: Understand – Conceive – Design – Implement – Optimize. At either end of this process, it is comparatively easy to measure and quantify changes. In the middle stages this gets more complicated but, through using the right tools at every stage, it is always possible.
The five stages of the web design process from User Intelligence.
Which Tools and When to use them?
During the meeting, Martijn and Jacco explained their work through two cases:
In the first case, the navigational structure of a website needed to be improved then validated.
The problem of users being unable to find specific content was solved through creating two models of the navigation structure using the Treejack tool. Users were asked to perform the task of finding a certain product using these comparative navigation systems and results were displayed in graphs.
The results being that clients had a 40% higher chance of success with the new navigational structure. This numerical indicator, paired with graphs comparing user performance at each stage of the navigation process, presents a simple and effective way to communicate and present findings.
Comparison of the two models tested from User Intelligence.
The second case involved a redesign of the Philips website, the task being to measure the success of the new concept in comparison to the old.
The problem being that Philips had several sites with either a pre-sales, sales or service focus with users getting confused as to which site they needed. The whole layout and architecture of the website needed redesign, but significant backend changes were also required; so the issue was how to prove that the change would be worth the investment.
Using the UserZoom tool, the team created two prototypes – one of the existing site, and one of the proposed redesign. User testers were asked to a perform a task, to purchase a specific product. After completion of this task, the user was questioned as to their level of satisfaction; how easy this design had been to use etc.
After 2 months, with tests and questioning involving 1400 people and the creation of two large scale prototypes in Axure, a realistic numerical comparison could be presented. Data that could be shown included: Completion times and user satisfaction rates, together with screen flows and heat maps.
This data provided those speaking the ‘Business Language’ with the firm numerics they needed to justify their business decisions, with the added benefit of also being useful to the designers when refining and enhancing their concepts.
Results gathered via User Testing the two concepts, with ‘Business Language’ from User Intelligence.
In summary, the main advantages of complementing ‘Design Talk’ with statistics are:
- The objective data facilitates communication with Stakeholders.
- Quantitative analysis can be extremely useful to designers in the design phase.
- It helps when benchmarking your design.
- Can aid in identifying issues before development begins.
- At the beginning of the design process, define what the issue is: what you are going to do with it and what you exactly aim to achieve with research.
- Sometimes a small amount of data can be enough to convince a stakeholder, provided it is representative of the problem being solved; One of the pieces of research in the Philips case involved comparison of just two pages.
- Don’t don’t be afraid to test sketches as early as possible in the design process.
- Keep presentations small and persuasive.
- Quantitative analysis is affordable, provided you use the correct tool – otherwise costs can build up!
- Use the user base of your client when conducting research.
- Avoid talking about money; you can’t make make certain of bold predictions; and business concepts are the realm of the businessman.
A small UX game on the side
After the main presentation, there was time for a small game. People were asked to come up with a small real life problem, and propose a solution for it. The five problems and solutions presented were:
Problem: “You can’t get a mortgage if you don’t have a high paid stable job.”
Solution: Use the crowdsourcing model.
Problem: “During discussions, colleagues touch my screen and leave their fingerprints on it. I hate it!”
Solution: They can touch their own screen and movements seen on my screen, through the use on touch screen and sharing applications.
Problem: “If keys are lost, it is impossible to get them back and locks may need to be changed”
Solution: Hold a digital version of your key, which can be taken to a locksmith and recreated.
Problem: “You enjoy steak or coffee ‘your’ way but each cafe or restaurant serves it differently”
Solution: An app which remembers how to make it as you like it, and communicates this to the establishment.
Problem: “Elementary school children must learn their vowels, but there isn’t enough time to teach them so teachers must ask the parents for support.”
Solution: An app for learning vowels, where the child can learn them themselves and their success tracked with the parents able to check up on their progress.
The winners were given prizes: tickets for the ModUX conference and a book from O’Reilly – ‘Microinteractions” by Dan Saffer.
Do you want to get involved?
Are you passionate about UX? Do you have an interesting topic you would like to share? Or would you like to become a sponsor of AmsterdamUX and host your own event? Then join us on meetup or drop us a line for more info.