User experience trends are notoriously hard to predict, however the qualitative testing that we do at RedEye gives us plenty of exposure to the online behavior of users in the UK. We watch them browse, book, research, and buy from a range of sites on different devices, leaving us in a unique position of being able to understand how users really behave online.
We have taken what we have learnt from the hundreds of users we meet over the course of a year and boiled this down into six key trends.
1. They Expect A Seamless Omni-channel Journey
Users expect to be able to complete their journey on any device they choose. With this in mind, features and functions should never be missing from the mobile site, as this makes the journey harder to complete. There really is no simple answer to which device is chosen for which site or journey. Sometimes it’s the device closest to hand, sometimes it’s the one with the biggest screen, sometimes it’s the fastest. Older participants can lean towards using a laptop but if it’s in a different room and takes a long time to boot up, why bother?
While users do expect to be able to use whichever device they choose, there often seems to be little understanding of how a true multi-device journey would work. Whilst wish lists and saved items can be easily recognised, cross-device usage can be more complicated to understand, especially if the user is unsure whether they need an account. As technology takes us closer and closer to having a true single customer view, and data collection policies get more rigorous with GDPR, how do we make a multi-device journey easy to use?
2. They’re Clear About Their Device Choice
Sometimes users do have a clear device preference but it’s always for a good reason. For instance, the image detail of the item they want to buy may be too hard to see on mobile screen, perhaps images of exotic locations when purchasing a holiday demand a bigger screen. This preference for a larger screen often applies to more considered purchases – mobile is just “too fiddly”. Long forms are often seen as tiresome to complete on mobile. However, testing shows that they can be more usable when all distractions are removed, and adequate steps are taken to help users avoid errors.
It is always good to remember that older users can often have a clear preference for using a laptop or desktop due to accessibility issues. As our eyesight starts to fail, small font sizes become more of an irritation. For older adults, mobility can also be a problem, making small touch points on screens harder to interact with. Where tablet usage has gone down for many younger users in the last five years, statistics show that it has increased for those over 55.
3. They Know Their Personal Data Has Value
We still have a habit of underestimating users when it comes to asking them for data. Many users automatically expect unwelcome emails when asked for their email address and note when no clear benefit is provided. Users understand that their personal info has value and expect something of value in return.
Many users have reasonable security fears around providing their personal data, particularly if it is about their children or seems unnecessary for the transaction taking place. These small friction points erode confidence and lead to abandonment.
4. They Have A Need For Speed
Users have little care for the difference between site speed and connection speed. Slow is slow and a valid reason to go to a different site. A high expectation of all sites is quite typical, and little concession is made for a new company or sites with diverse product lines. Expectations of speed and ease of use are set to a high standard and we find that comparisons with Amazon are frequently made.
Younger users offer an interesting look into the future, they often trade attention to detail for speed. Their expectation of usability and technological competence is high – woe betide the site that slows them down.
5. They Can Be Flippant About Where They Buy From
There will always be a group of users whose main aim is to hunt out a bargain, however, price typically isn’t everything for users. Convenience and trust are also key and can be worth paying for. On the flip side cautious users can be enticed to try a new site with just the right discount.
Generally, users are happy to browse a few sites in search of an item, but they do have a limit. Although they say they search widely to find the right price, that search may only be three or four sites before they settle on what is “good enough”. Truthfully purchases are made when the combination of price, convenience, trust (or whatever specific criteria is important to the user) hits the right point.
6. They Trust Brands They Recognise
Brand recognition still counts. When searching for a product, users return to sites that have served them well in the past and whose quality they can be certain of. A physical presence or the ability to talk to real people also helps, especially when a lack of confidence or knowledge comes into play.
When looking at an unfamiliar site, third party connections like reviews, can engender trust. Holiday bookings can be made more confidently when TripAdvisor reviews are available.
In summary, there are no easy answers when it comes to understanding users, however brushing up on the habits of users is always going to help. Habits and trends will continue to change and technology needs to keep up with this. Remember, users are people just like you!
Find out more about RedEye’s Usability Testing here.