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Why market research is important before you make changes

March 12, 2018

Written by Carl Smith

When developing brand new assets that will be observed or used by your audience, whether it’s an app, a website, or an entire business, you are basically starting from a blank canvas; sure, you can base your ideas on others that were successful, but once deployed any criticism received can simply be used to create improvements. Therefore, your assets can only get better!

But what if you want to make changes to them? There may be several reasons why you want to do that, which includes:

  • Improving the user experience (UX) for the end user, lowering the frustration, and reducing the time it takes for them to reach their intended objective
  • Refining the image of the corporation, whether it’s to make it look more professional, or to create an impact that will be talked about, increasing brand awareness
  • Persuade the end user to make on-the-spot decisions that will generate more revenue

All the above, one way or another, is to change the user’s behaviour when engaging with your assets, and it must be in a positive way to keep them coming back. You can always predict how to make these better, but the best way to approach this is to perform market research on how the average user interacts with them before you make changes.

When your users turn against you

You may think large corporations will know everything when it comes to this subject, but during the beginning of 2018, there were a couple of events that made you think otherwise. The first one I would like to discuss is Leeds United, and their ambition to change their legendary crest; not only do they want to create a positive impact to their club and receive praise and recognition from football enthusiasts, but also want their fans to purchase their merchandise with the new crest on. It was based on their fans doing a fist pump to their chest, but the grand reveal of their new design massively backfired, to a point that their fans started a petition to withdraw it, in which received more digital signatures than the number of favourites and likes their official Twitter and Facebook had. Eventually, they did withdraw the designs and instead have now got the fans more involved by allowing them to submit their ideas.

The second corporation that followed suit was Snapchat; they have recently made an update to their popular photo chatting mobile application by changing the layout. The main purpose of this was to make it easier for the end user to socialise with their friends by integrating Snaps and stories onto one screen instead of having them separate. However, this has caused confusion on how to view stories, as these all no longer are viewable near the top, but instead are ordered based on how much you interact with them. I am one of those who doesn’t Snap very often, but I do like to view what my friends have been doing throughout the day, but the update doesn’t make it obvious that there are new ones available. Furthermore, celebrities who use stories to show their fans what their daily routine involves, have also voiced their frustrations. Days after the update went global, one celebrity called Kylie Jenner tweeted about the how she no longer uses it, and in turn, single-handedly wiped $1.3bn off Snapchat’s stock market value. Like Leeds United, people have signed a petition to get the changes reverted, of which over million have signed it. But unlike Leeds United, there seems to be no hint of it being changed.

Despite the discrepancies, both corporations would have spent a considerable amount of time and money into the research, and how to make it better for them and the end user; the reactions they have received however does make you wonder whether they have either done enough or did it properly.

The Power of Research

At Fantastic, we incorporate a variety of researching techniques to get the very best out of our media. Whenever we make changes to a website, it is never just for aesthetics, or because we think it would make the usability better or could potentially increase revenue; we know that the changes we execute onto a website will improve usability for the end user and increase revenue for the client.

The five main researching strategies we use are as follows:

Audits

When a website is due a facelift, we produce a document called an audit detailing where users could potentially be losing interest in the site or making it difficult to get to a desired location, whether it’s completing a call-to-action, or making a purchase. These audits are only produced by our UX Experts, who knows inside-out how a website should work. If any areas on a website have been identified as being a potential pitfall, then their severity is analysed, and the more severe are actioned first to avoid any additional loss of engagement. Furthermore, if there are areas that are beneficial, then these are also pointed out and used more frequently across the website.

Audits are usually produced when a business approaches us, and we have identified that their website is an asset that can be improved upon.

Behaviour Flow

Google Analytics provides several free tools available at our disposal; when used strategically, these can assist in detecting weak spots in websites. One such view is the Behaviour Flow, a tool that shows at a glimpse how users traverse through the website and identifies what pages make people leave. When such pages have been identified, we then analyse further what areas on those pages make people leave. Furthermore, if we identify that many go through the same set of pages to reach a final page, then it may be possible to eliminate one in between to reduce the time it takes to reach their intended destination, thus creating a better user experience.

Events

Event tracking can be actioned on almost any interaction on the website, but most commonly when a user pushes a particular button when more than one exists, or when a form is interacted with. Unlike behaviour flow that can determine which pages a user navigates to, events can tell us how they got there.

A/B Testing

Another useful tool that Google provides is A/B Testing; this is where you can effectively change web pages for different users and determine which one receives the better response. These pages that change can be something as small as changing the position, colour, or wording of a button, but can be as large as adding a new payment type or changing the whole page layout. We use this technique to experiment how users interact differently and determine if the changes made have a positive effect on the performance of the site. If after a certain period Google realises that one is outperforming the other, then it automatically makes that layout the new layout.

Testers

There are times when we allow Team Fantastic to use the website and set out some tasks we want them to do; in many cases, this will be to purchase a certain product with specific varieties, followed by a quick questionnaire to assess what they liked about the website, and what they found difficult. If we want to target a certain audience, then we can ask the public to use the website, and present to us their feedback. One method of achieving this is to navigate through the streets of Leeds with a laptop and randomly pick out people to perform these tests, however, we prefer to use a service called WhatUsersDo, who pay users of a select audience to use our site, complete the objective, and provide feedback. The benefit of this is that unlike most people who will simply say “it’s fine”, they provide more constructive criticism and pinpoint areas where the average user would navigate away from the website.

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