Presented at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Higher Education Market Interest Group Annual Conference, 21 March, 2013.
Presenters: Dawn Ellis and Neil Allison, University of Edinburgh Website Programme.
Founded 1583 / one of 4 ancient universities in Scotland / James VI and I / Mary Queen of Scots and Darnley.We are usually ranked fairly highly in world terms.Undergraduates continue to be important to us.And we have a community that right from the start have been building the reputation of the University and continue to do so.
Over the period I’m talking about our student numbers have increased by 50%, our income by 100% and our assets are about £1.7 billion.And we’re a research intensive university with researchers generating some £250 - £300 million of research income.And the number of international students who want to study with us has tripled and is still growing.
“Our customers have developed bullshit detectors, finely tuned to sniff out marketing messages that are style without any substance. They have (almost) complete control over the messages they receive, and can filter out unwanted distractions with ease.” “Word of mouth has long been trusted by customers above advertising, but now the tools of the internet have amplified word of mouth to the point where it eclipses messaging in the paid media space.”
In the early days of Google, they established a business philosophy called “10 things we know to be true”.Obviously these have evolved over the years as their business has diversified and the environment in which they operate has changed.But what has not changed is their core principle. The number 1 on their list…
Google have built their reputation on their search, and on giving the user what they want.They make a tremendous amount of money, but not at the expense of the user experience.This has been done consistently since the first launched in the late 90s – the interface isn’t significantly different to what it was back then. They have simply refined based on the user’s primary goal.Compare this to Yahoo…
The experience a customer has clearly influences their future behaviour. This Google survey illustrates this quite starkly.But they won’t just decide whether to buy from you again, they’ll talk about you and their experience. And today, we all know that an individual’s voice can carry a long way.
The ITV monkey campaign was tremendously successful.Unfortunately, customer service and the product itself didn’t stand up.Demand and expectation couldn’t be met, and ultimately contributed to ITV digital’s downfall.
FocusYou can’t design a website for everyoneThe most successful websites target specific audiencesMore often than not serving a specific audience well is better than partially serving a larger audience.Personas help you define who you’re designing for.They encourage you to think about the types of users who are critical to your business so you don’t waste time on those that don’t matter so much.EmpathyThe people building University websites typically know their business and how things work.So our instinct is to make decisions based on ourselves.But as I mentioned, your users are not usually like you. They don’t care about what you care about.Personas help you live in your users shoes.If they’re really working, they start to feel like real people.They help you imagine what they want and what they don’t want.You know they’re working when their names start to crop up in conversations – “But Marcia would never read that!”ConsensusThe raw output of most user research encourages different people to come to different conclusions.One person grabs onto a particular set of data to back up a position, while another user other data to argue a point of view.Each team member could well have a different audience in mind…Which can lead to an inefficient process and a disjointed end product.Personas bring the team together to a shared vision of exactly who you’re designing for and what it is that they want.Early agreement on this avoids miscommunication, misunderstanding as you go on to make detailed decisions about content and features.This is the most important benefit – helping to establish appropriate expectations and goal setting throughout the UniversityEfficienciesPersonas help you decide what you’re creating at the outset.Ensuring people make key decisions earlier in the process ensures you don’t waste time and money later.If you’ve ever been in the position of looking at a homepage layout with colleagues and the conversation has strayed to who you’re designing for and what the links should be will know what I mean.If you think about the cost of making changes late in the process, it’s easy to see how investing time and thought building consensus through personas early in the process can pay dividends later.
Market segmentation might identify that 37% of women aged 25-35 want to book their next holiday online, and that competitive prices and access to quality accommodation will affect their purchasing decision. A persona, on the other hand, would show that Sally aged 27 wants to book her next holiday online, but is concerned that the accommodation she chooses won’t look the same as the brochure, that they won’t be close to restaurants and bars, and that her online booking might not be accepted when she arrives. Sally also wants to be assured that she can cancel her booking 60 days prior to her departure date without penalty.Market segmentation is a great input into persona development and can help identify the types of users to profile. However it rarely provides the richness required to write personas.(http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/kmc_personas/index.html)
Marketing is dead, long live user experience
Marketing is dead Long live UX! Dawn Ellis Neil AllisonCIM Higher Ed Market Interest Group Conference 21 March 2013 Twitter: #hemig6 #ux
WelcomeDawn Ellis Neil Allison Director UX Manager@DawnEllis @usabilityed University Website Programme The University of Edinburgh www.ed.ac.uk/website-programme
Overview• Context and background – Our philosophy• Intro to user experience (UX) – Personas• Case studies• Conclusions and questions
ProfileFounded: Influential Alumni and Staff:1583 Charles Darwin, Robert LouisGlobal Ranking: Stevenson, James ClerkTop 30 Maxwell, Alexander Graham Bell, James Simpson, Adam Smith, Walter Scott, David Hume, Ian Wilmut, J K Rowling, Stella Rimmington, Peter Higgs, Katherine Grainger, Chris Hoy…
The University website• 250,000 web pages – 45,000 published with central CMS – Around 600 supported CMS users• 5 million unique external visitors in 2012 – To the 45,000 pages we monitor• Diverse range of audiences – Demand for content in cycles
Operational fit• 2006: Established as a project – To “Roll out the CMS”• 2008: Embedded as a programme – Managing the CMS – Focus on web publishers’ skills• 2012: Website & process enhancement – User experience, analytics & website appraisal – CMS review, focus on web publisher experience
University objectives• Attract the best students• Improve conversion rates• Enhance the student experience• Increase revenues for the University
Reality of University web publishing• Devolved & probably always will be• Significant skills gap – IA planning, web writing & comms, usability• Very little time available for web management – Even less for local strategy & coordination
Reality of website user behaviour• They scan, they don’t read• They’re task driven• They want quick answers• They don’t care about what you care about
Our philosophy, where we’re heading• It’s about process not project• People and collaboration first• Technology is a cog, not the steering wheel
What is UX?• UX = User eXperience – Or CX – Customer eXperience – Should we be talking SX?• It’s the sum of all experiences a customer has with a business• “A star to sail your ship by” – Jesse James Garrett• “A flag in the sand on the horizon” – Jared Spool
Advertising and UX“Advertising is about getting the customer to love the company. UX is about getting the company to love the customer.” Whitney Hess
Usability and UX – a scenario“The customer, looking for a new digital camera, goes to the largeelectronic retailer’s website. She quickly finds the camera shewants, puts it in the cart, and without incident, pays for it using theoption to pick it up at the store that same day. Quick, easy — she ispleased and excited to receive her camera. Website usabilityWhen she arrives at the store, she initially doesn’t know where togo, as no visual clues present themselves. After a ten-minute wait atthe customer service desk, she’s told she’s in the wrong place andneeds to find another desk, this one labelled “Online Receiving”. Onceshe finds that desk, the clerk, who obviously can’t wait for his shift toend, sighs and says the camera she’s purchased is out of stock. She canbuy a different camera at this point, but to receive a credit for heroriginal online purchase, she needs to call an 0800 number. She endsup leaving the store without a camera and a charge on her credit cardshe needs to resolve.” User experience Jared Spool
Marketing has changedIn the golden age of mass communication Image = RealityIn the new fragmented, aggregated age: Reality = Reality Foolproof.co.uk
Roles are reversed "The customer is now the advertiser.When they search they are placing an ad. Traditional marketing is about getting attention, while web marketing is about giving it.“ Gerry McGovern
Google’s philosophyFrom “10 things we know to be true”bit.ly/google-10things “1. Focus on the user and all else will follow”
Econsultancy.com• But what does this mean in the Higher Education environment? • Applications? Conversions? Repeat study? Brand perception?
Why should UX matter to you?• A strong marketing campaign for a product with poor UX can ultimately be damaging• If the aim of marketing is to create a customer then the aim of UX is to create a happy customer
3 steps to an effective UX vision• Step 1: Focus on Research – Must be grounded in reality• Step 2: Focus on Experience – Express for the user, not the product• Step 3: Share the Vision – Everyone needs to share and buy into it Jared Spool www.uie.com
Personas – essential in the UX toolkit• A stand-in for real users – Representing the needs of user groups• Identifying the user motivations, expectations and goals that drive online behaviour• Based on knowledge of real users• Helping us keep the user experience at the forefront as website content, features & services develop
How personas can help• Personas bring focus• Personas build empathy• Personas encourage consensus• Personas bring efficiencies The User Is Always Right by Steve Mulder
Personas are not market segments• Segmentation identifies and measures the size of different groups at a high-level• Personas provide understanding of the user context – Needs, motivations, behaviour & associated design challenges (or opportunities)• Market segmentation provides valuable input into the persona generation process
How to share a UX vision• Tell a story• Draw a picture• Create a video
Tell a story• Easiest to do• Easy to collaborate on• Storytelling is an ancient and universal activity UX narrative: University of Edinburgh UX cartoon: David Travis, Userfocus.co.uk
Mood-time graphs • Because everything doesn’t happen at once uxmatters.com • We can lose and gain user goodwill along the way • Prioritise the biggest pain points cxpartners.com
Some user journeys are complex… • …involving multiple channels and iterative decision making • UX consultants Nomensa recently reported on the undergraduate applicant experience bit.ly/nomensa-ug-ux-report Graphic: bit.ly/adaptive-path-journey
How can I measure UX?• It depends on what you’re looking to find• There is no silver bullet – No single tool or approach can do everything• Analytics + enquiry monitoring + market research + user research = Greater than the sum of their parts• Build the means to calculate ROI into your metrics
How many blind men are there round your elephant?
Regular reporting is keyFrom prioritisation…Define user Agree Establish Prioritise Implement Evaluategroups business user needs needs & changes changes requirements requirementsTo a report card: Business User needs Agreed Rating requirements prioritiesProspective 1. Check entry 1. Course 1. Entry req’ts Bpostgraduate requirments structure 2. Fees & C+(taught) 2. Check fees 2. Career opps funding 3. Get in touch 3. Funding opps 3. Structure F 4. Make strong 4. Fees 4. Contact C application 5. Apply 5. Careers A Based on the work of Lou Rosenfeld: bit.ly/rosenfeld-redesign
Case studyEnhancing the prospective postgraduate experience
Our aims• Identify trends in prospective student behaviour• Monitor behaviour & introduce metrics• Measurably enhance the UX• Communicate the UX• Collaborate with academics & administrators stakeholders throughout – Hand over for ongoing enhancement
What we did1. Generated personas with stakeholders – 3 programme areas2. Agreed ideal UX for each persona3. User testing role playing the personas4. Website analytics & offline data review – To check user testing findings5. Website & process enhancements
The student personas • All 3 colleges • International & UK • Distance learners & on-campus • Full & part time
Findings & trends• All programmes broadly wanted the same things from their personas• Personas represented a range of focus based on recruitment & enquiry management priorities: – Strong candidates – Non-standard applicants – Weak candidates• Same issues observed across all studies – Participant frustrations with generic high-level content and looping journeys – Programme aspirations for UX some way from findings
UX pain points• Multiple contact points – Additional issues for research applicants• Some essential central information caused difficulties & dissatisfaction• Profile & ranking content unconvincing – “It’s easy to say you’re great…”
Next steps• Full review of enhancements – Anecdotal results so far excellent – Unnecessary queries down – Quality applicants up• Further website & process tweaks based on follow up research findings• Hand over ongoing process to programmes• Case study & promotion of methodology
Our challenges• Organisational politics & silos – Our users don’t care about these• Devolved website management – Easy to lose perspective• Available time and expertise – Ongoing support & promotion needed
Process is vital• In website development projects, the content and the journey is often an afterthought• These critical elements are left to the non-specialists who have no time• We need to stop managing web projects like print projects
So what do we do?• Optimising the CMS UX encourages: – Better content – More active management – Fresher content• Saving CMS users time frees them up for other activities : – Audience engagement – Social media mgt – Conversion activity• Think beyond the initial website delivery
Conclusions• UX is your brand – You’re being talked about, word-of-mouth has a long reach• In a world of limited resource and non-specialism, it’s about sustainable process & iterative improvement• Marketing is social, so it’s in the hands of front-of-house colleagues• Break out of the boom-and-bust cycle – A new design doesn’t (necessarily) solve anything• Marketing still important, but now there are more pieces in a bigger jigsaw