UIE Article: The $300 Million Button

Jared Spool

October 21st, 2015

In today’s article, I tell a story about a client who found a way to dramatically increase their e-commerce site’s revenues with a couple of simple changes. While the story is interesting, the story-behind-the-story is just as interesting.

The client had hired us because they were concerned about checkout-process abandonment. Their analytics were showing a 13% drop off in sales, which, based on the average value of the abandoned shopping carts, was worth about $1.2 million a year in additional revenue.

Checkout-process abandonment is common in e-commerce sites and something that you can easily detect with your site’s usage logs. You just look at the number of people who get to the first screen and then the number of people who actually complete the transaction. Everyone who doesn’t make it is an abandonment.

Two weeks of usability testing on the live site (and on competitors’ sites), followed by two weeks of iterative paper prototype testing produced a streamlined checkout process, which, once implemented, showed a dramatic increase in revenues. It’s amazing what you’ll learn when you actually watch your users.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s hard to imagine a form that could be simpler: two fields, two buttons, and one link. Yet, it turns out this form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major e-commerce site, to the tune of $300,000,000 a year. What was even worse: the designers of the site had no clue there was even a problem.

Read the article: The $300 Million Button.

Have you seen results from changes to your forms? We’d love to hear your experiences. Share them with us below.

UIE Article: Content and Design Are Inseparable Work Partners

Jared Spool

October 14th, 2015

It’s not uncommon within organizations that web site content is treated differently and separately from the web site design process. Yet the users do not separate the two and see it as one experience. When the content and design process are not done hand-in-hand, poor user experiences is often the result. Today we re-print an article focusing on this issue.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s not news that the content is the important part of the design. For years, Karen McGrane has told us that working on the design without considering the content is like giving your best friend a beautifully wrapped empty box for their birthday. They’ll enjoy opening it, but will be sorely disappointed with the entirety results. And recently, Steph Hay reminded us that “content is the entire reason people come to the design in the first place.”

The new thinking is that content creation and management cannot be a separate endeavor from design creation and management. That we need to inseparably integrate the two, structurally and organizationally, to create great experiences.

Read the article: Content and Design are Inseparable Work Partners.

If you are struggling with getting everyone on the same page with the conversation your design will have with your users Steph Hay’s full day workshop at UI20 will help you.


What can your organization do to make design and content feel more integrated? Tell us about it below.

How Are You Getting Your Team on the Same Page?

Jared Spool

October 8th, 2015

While developing the topics and workshop leaders for this year’s User Interface 20 Conference in Boston, November 2–4, I realized that a general theme was emerging—getting everyone on the same page about your designs. Here’s how each workshop at UI20 contributes to this theme:

If getting your team on the same page is critical for your design success, then you won’t want to miss this year’s UI20 conference. Go explore the full-day workshops and discover how they can make your team stronger and more in sync.

Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts – Jen Simmons’ October 15 Virtual Seminar

Adam Churchill

October 8th, 2015

We’re in a rut. Web design solves problem by mirroring what’s always been done. This means reusing the same layouts again and again. And again. But it doesn’t have to be this way! In Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts, Jen Simmons rallies web professionals to take a fresh approach.

Attend this seminar if you want to:

  • Find inspiration beyond what already exists
  • Use the ideas you had but didn’t think you could use on the web
  • Shake up your layouts with tools available today
  • Create something beautiful and fresh

Save your spot in this October 15 virtual seminar.


UIE Article: Prioritizing Opportunities Across the Customer’s Experience

Jared Spool

October 7th, 2015

In today’s article, I discuss how service design helps teams get on the same page about the context of their work.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Breaking large efforts into small teams makes sense. However, it also creates silos of effort. The outcome is a disjointed user experience. Employing a service design approach helps feed information into the project prioritization process, to ensure a better experience.

Read the article: Prioritizing Opportunities Across the Customer’s Experience.

How could you re-prioritize to provide a better user experience? Leave us a note below.

Aligning Your Team with Design Systems and Style Guides

Jared Spool

October 2nd, 2015

Nathan Curtis, co-founder of EightShapes, has worked with component libraries and style guides for years. He says that when you’re thinking about all the platforms that comprise the totality of an experience, these patterns (such as a sign-in form, or elements like buttons) need to be more broadly applicable. It’s one thing to create the structure and layout, then thread all the pieces together for a single app or web page, but when that app needs to scale across platforms, it suddenly becomes a very different animal.

Recently, I interviewed Nathan on design systems and style guides. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Oftentimes, style guide refers to a core part, or a foundation of the library of parts that everybody has at their disposal. People have been building those for years. It’s been 10 years since I worked with the sun.com team, and they had a massive component library.

All these component libraries aren’t new, but they’re starting to get used by more and more people. When you start to think about all the people that participate in that, and all the products they apply these things to, suddenly you have to think more systematically, and that’s where the term “design system” comes from.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript.

In Nathan Curtis’ workshop, Building Scalable Design Systems and Style Guides, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create a library to articulate standards across all product lines
  • Identify and prioritize patterns for product consistency
  • Use cross-product standards to design and build better products

See what else you’ll do during Nathan’s full day workshop at the User Interface Conference, November 2 in Boston.

Using Journey Maps to Visualize the Path a Customer Takes

Jared Spool

October 1st, 2015

Communication is at the heart of service design and Marc Stickdorn knows the core of it is getting everyone on the same page. He says that the importance of this lies in the fact that customer experiences sometimes aren’t tangible—a user or customer could be experiencing an internal event. It’s important to understand how different customers come in contact with the design.

One way of determining that is with a customer journey map. Being able to visualize the path a customer takes while interacting with your product is a powerful thing.

A few weeks ago I interviewed Marc Stickdorn on this topic. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

The journey map is as good as the data we use to create it. When we talk about journey mapping and getting everybody on the same page, we also need to make sure that the customer has a word in there. That means that we either have data about the customer, solid data, not so much talking about content of data, but rather qualitative research methods, ethnographic research, to really understand, “What is their experience?” from a customer perspective, step-by-step throughout the whole journey. Then based on this data, we can start to redesign or improve it.

Listen to the full interview with Marc or read the transcript.

In Marc Stickdorn’s workshop, Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences, you’ll learn how to:

  • Redesign the service experience using journey maps as the starting point
  • Map customer satisfaction and engagement throughout the customer journey
  • Sketch possible solutions to improve on top-priority problem areas in the journey
  • Make cheap, fast prototypes to test in the context of the service situation

See what else you’ll do during Marc’s full day workshop at the User Interface Conference, November 2 in Boston.

UIE Article: Service Design – Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar

Jared Spool

September 30th, 2015

In a conventional UX approach, we’d focus on the bits. With service design, we go beyond and think about the cross-channel experience. Today’s article discusses the intricacies of service design and why you need to pay attention to it.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

User research isn’t the only aspect of digital UX practice that we need to change when we start doing service design work. We need to look at how we prototype services, how we think about the information organized in the service delivery, how the service looks, and what behaviors we want each party to have when interacting in our designed experience.

Read the article: Service Design: Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar.

How have you blended your digital and non-digital channels to create better user experiences? Leave us a note below.

It All Comes down to Aligning Your Organization

Jared Spool

September 29th, 2015

If you don’t understand how users are interacting with your product or service, you don’t know what to design for. But how, as a team, do you come to that understanding? Telling the story of a user’s journey highlights areas where you’re right on point and where you’re missing the mark. And it’s a great way to get everyone on the same page.

A few weeks ago I got together with Kim Goodwin where we discussed how journey maps and storytelling plays into scenarios and the design process. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

If we focus on the story of what this particular human being that we’re envisioning is doing—what do they see and encounter—it doesn’t matter how the back end
does it.

It doesn’t matter what technology we use because we’re just getting at the gist [of the story]. That helps keep requirements at the right level instead of having teams that do requirements that are actual lists of solutions instead of lists of problems that must be solved.

Listen to the podcast interview or read the transcript.

In Kim Goodwin’s workshop, Using Scenarios to Solve Problems, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create journey maps to understand the users’ current experience
  • Dig into how scenario-driven design gets teams on the same page
  • Generate delightful design solutions using the power of storytelling

Help Designers and Developers Learn to Understand Each Other

Jared Spool

September 29th, 2015

The notion of being a “designer who can code” has been a prevalent topic in recent years. One of the greatest benefits of using CSS is speaking the same language as your developers. Having this common language aids in creating a more collaborative feel to conversations with developers versus dictating to them what to do.

Being able to use just enough code to create an interface element that not only shows how it should look and work but actually displays it in action, is a powerful communication tool.

Recently I interviewed Jenn Lukas on this very topic. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

When we understand the tools that we work with we all become better at our jobs. The same way as a developer understanding design principles can make me develop better. I know what to QA for, I know how to keep a consistent grid, I know what goes into good typography. These are the rules that make you more well-rounded.

Going the other way, to be able to know what CSS and technology is capable of really helps people to create better, stronger designs. To know where you can push the limits of design, to know where things can be scaled back, to know what goes into the building blocks of creating something.

Listen to the podcast interview or read the transcript.

In Jenn Lukas’ UI20 conference workshop Mastering CSS to Build a Living Style Guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build style guidelines to communicate effectively with developers
  • Understand the most common styles, including fonts, colors, and background
  • Define your design’s look and feel with divs and flexible layouts
  • Get everyone on the same page about how your design should look and feel