Oli Gardner is co-founder and Director of Marketing for Unbounce – The DIY Landing Page Platform. Oli is responsible for operating the inbound marketing program primarily through the use of content on the subjects of conversion rate optimisation and landing pages. Prior to Unbounce he was a creative director, interaction designer and led a usability team. Currently, his career is focused on improving user experiences. We chat to him about the greatest Usability myths, important questions to consider when doing usability testing and how to go about guest blogging.
Hi Oli. What are some of the fundamental questions to ask when doing usability testing?
Much like psychology, you want to know what people are thinking. So when conducting your tests – this is mainly for the task based approach – you want to ask questions that don’t lead them in any way or give away clues as to how they can complete their task.
You would start by making sure they verbalize everything they are doing so you can get inside their head a bit.
Some example questions would be, ‘What are you trying to achieve right now?’, ‘What are you looking for?’, ‘Is there something confusing you about completing the task?’, ‘Can you think of any other ways you could have done that?’, ‘Is there anything distracting you from the task at hand?’
It’s also critical to ask people to tell you ‘this is where I would stop’ if they have problems with the task. That way you learn what their natural tolerance for your product would be.
Unbounce wrote a post on guest blogging. What is the best way to approach websites about writing for them?
Don’t even think about asking to guest post unless you’ve written some substantial and well received posts of your own first, so begin with your own blog.
Do some research. Find blogs where the content matches the subjects you are most expert at, and that have a good sized readership. You can tell this by the social engagement, such as shares and comments, and the size of their RSS subscriber list if they show it. You can also find this number using Google Reader.
Read a bunch of their posts to see what their style and tone are like and be honest about whether you can do something similar.
Check their site for guest post guidelines. Some sites don’t even accept guest posts, but often if they do there will be a page on their site with requirements and how to apply.
When making contact, supply links of your very best work, and if you’ve written guest posts before, include those too as it shows that others value your writing too.
Offer up a few suggested titles and a short synopsis of what each idea would cover.
Explain why you think your style would be suitable for their readers. This shows that you’ve done your homework and will earn you brownie points.
And finally, make it very clear that it would be 100% original work and not something just repurposed from older writing. Re-purposing is fine for your own blog, but don’t do it with a guest post – at least when you’re still trying to get your foot in the door.
In your opinion, what are some common usability myths that need to be clarified?
I’d say there is only one important problem here. The biggest usability myth is that it’s not important.
In the very first usability test I conducted, I showed the video recording to the head of the department the test was based on and the CEO of the billion dollar company. The head of the department literally fell off his chair in shock at the pain the test participants were going through to achieve a very simple task, and the CEO said ‘Please stop the video now, and hire as many people as you can for your team, immediately’.
So I’d say that education through example is a good way to dispel that myth.
Optimized sites and landing pages lead to higher acquisition and retention rates – hence dollars. So it’s also a good idea to try and associate a dollar value to how much money is being left on the table.
Why is it so important for landing pages to differ when people enter from different platforms?
Mobile visitation to websites has already overtaken that of desktop computers, so you really need to consider the mobile visitor. There are three main reasons for making your pages different per platform.
Firstly, readability. Watching someone pinching and stretching on their smartphone is painful to say the least. Make mobile versions simpler with larger more readable text. And pull a Steve Krug on the page too – take away half of the copy then delete 50% of what’s left.
Secondly, load time. Mobile devices often don’t load pages as quickly as platforms that are wired into a network. Wi-Fi helps of course. So optimizing your images and having a simpler page as mentioned above will help this and reduce your bounce rate.
Lastly, design for fat fingers. If you want someone to complete a transaction on your page on a mobile device, you need to make the most important interactive elements bigger so people can easily click on them. Pretend everyone has 10 thumbs, or that Andre the Giant is your target customer.