Archive for the ‘recession’ Tag

Competing in a recession

While budgets are restrained in a recession, contrary to what may seem logical, it’s time to invest wisely to get your website in order. Not only does this provide your business with an edge and may well ensure survival but it also puts you ahead of the game when the economy turns round and things pick up.

Recent research shows that lowering prices isn’t necessarily the answer and may end up doing more harm than good. Customer service and client relationships on the other hand, are a great way to distinguish your business from your competitors’. Understandably service levels are improving in the UK and possibly worldwide during this period of hardship.

The big question is can you create a good user experience (UX) without breaking the bank?

Know your audience and their goals

‘Who’s coming to your site?’ is the first question to ask. This may sound simple but it’s surprising how many organisations aren’t aware of this information. Run an online survey on your site to find out more about who your customers actually are. This can then be broken down into a clearer segmentation to give you a basic view of your audience. Tools like SurveyMonkey make this easy and are reasonably priced.

Also find out why people are visiting your site. What are they looking for or hoping to achieve? Only by discovering their needs can you check if the site meets them. And if it doesn’t, you’re armed with this valuable data to direct your efforts in ensuring customer needs are fulfilled.

Check your navigation and search

Browsing and searching are the 2 main ways of accessing information on a website. The online population is split 50:50 in terms of preference for one or the other so both need equal attention and care.

When considering your navigation, think about how your content’s structured and classified. Is it meaningful to your users or is it mired in internal intricacies? Card sorting is the technique to create a user-centred navigation. This doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise requiring a huge investment. Automated tools that minimise the facilitation required and extend the reach can help keep the costs down.

Ensure your site search is clearly identifiable, consistently placed in the top right and forgiving of common typing errors. Are your search results presented in a logical manner? The value of a good back-end search can’t be underestimated as web users now expect the efficacy of Google wherever they encounter search.

Considering a new feature or even a re-design?

Does the proposed change meet site visitor needs? Before embarking upon a change, find out from your customers whether it’s what they want and need. Needless to say, if ever there was a time when ROI needed certainty this is it. User interviews are your best bet here. Make sure the resulting user needs are incorporated into the other requirements that may have been gathered.

The most cost-effective way of making sure the new design is along the right user experience lines is to create low-fidelity, throwaway wireframes and test these with your target audience. These blueprints can be as basic as paper sketches.

Resist the temptation to skip testing and go full steam ahead in creating something that’s nearly finished because the earlier a design’s validated, the cheaper it’s to fix faults and the less effort you’ve wasted.

Free SEO keywords and analytics

Good usability and good search engine optimisation (SEO) go hand in hand. Tailor your site to what your audience is thinking and that’s what they’ll type into the search engines! Want to find out what your site visitors are searching for? Try the Google AdWords Keyword tool – it shows what’s been searched for on a given URL in the previous month.

Another valuable addition to your toolkit is Google Analytics, which lets you analyse website statistics. This allows a strong tie-in of the UX changes to demonstrable ROI, which in turn can only promote buy-in of the user-centred philosophy throughout your organisation.

www.mad.co.uk
Mrudula Kodali, Senior Consultant at user experience consultancy, Webcredible.

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Vanishing stores leads to ‘Brand Ghosting’…

Derelict B&Q store, UK

People discuss brands, identities, perceptive values etc etc until they are blue in the face. However something I recently noticed, with the crippling blanket of financial gloom hanging over us, is the amount of downsizing or relocating that is happening. Of course there are also the less fortunate who have simply had their business well and truly crunched, but what struck me as I passed by a recently vacated B&Q was how little attention brand owners pay to the state of the premises on leaving. It appears there is little thought as to who may take your place, how brands communicate their departure to customers, what state the location is left in and did you remove every trace of your brands existence there?

After some discussion I have realised that there is a new term to be coined here, ‘brand ghosting’! People can still remember when your company was last there and how they were treated when you moved on or closed down, the fact is a customers memory can live on for some time and definitely has a measurable impact. The question is what can brands do to minimise the effect when its out of your control.

First and foremost its the old communications game, advise and inform your customers well in advance, let them prepare and feel a part of goings on. Make sure the premises are pristine on departure, removing your identity but leaving a good taste.

The big issue with the B&Q experience was that it affected my view of the entire company not just that particular store. In this volatile economic climate where the unexpected is expected brands have to be more careful then ever to always portray themselves in the most positive light.

The reason this point rather caught me unawares was the realistaion of how little brands really consider the vacation impact? The B&Q I saw was a mess of graffiti and rubbish, however because the brand identity was clearly visible, with that lovely orange hoarding the effect I was left with was a negative feeling about the state of the company. In times like these can any brand afford thoughts like this to creep into the publics conscious?

Pomegranate would love to hear about more experiences of brand ghosting, so if you have seen any on the high street lately, get sharing?

To learn more on branding and brand confidence visit the Pomegranate group website and find out what it’s all about!

When times are tough…

When times are tough and revenues are falling there may be a temptation for business to cut ‘discretionary’ budgets – money allocated to activities such as design, perhaps.

But design is a powerful tool in a downturn.

Our research shows that more than half of the UK’s businesses:

* … are looking to design their way out of downturn
Over half (54%) of the firms in our survey thought design would contribute to a large or great extent in helping maintain their competitive edge in the current economic climate.

* … think design is more important now
Similarly, 53% thought that design had become more important in helping the firm to achieve its business objectives over the last three years.

* … think design is integral to the economic performance of the UK
The same number agreed or strongly agreed that design is integral to the country’s future economic performance.

http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/en/Case-Studies/All-Case-Studies/Design-in-a-downturn/