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How Well Do You Know Your Users?

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#1 cre8pc


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Posted 02 November 2015 - 03:49 PM

It's always a blast for me to have a discussion with someone as passionate about human users as I am.  In speaking with someone today, the topic of target users came up and I mentioned how so many companies or people think they know about their end users but they don't.


When I ask if the website will be for a local, national or global users, the response is to choose but if I ask if they have done any research into the devices, technology, or behavior of these target users, there is none.  When a company says "we target global users" they have not checked into internet speed by country, device usage by country, or what areas are not online at all.  People forget the differences and lack of opportunities.


Now there are studies on mobile and whether or not revenue increased with a responsive redesign.  What fascinates me is that the same incentive is not applied to accessibility design.  Companies are racing to get a mobile site to pass Google's test but will continue to ignore accessibility standards, so that they continue to ignore a set of users who could use their website or app but are unable to because it fails WCAG2.0, Section 508, PAS 78, etc.  If you were to ask an ecommerce company if they plan on selling in the UK, they will say of course and yet have no idea the UK has strict laws for accessibility and ecommerce.


Some companies will inspect Google analytics looking for clues on user behavior, not understanding that the numbers they see are not an accurate representation of what's happening on their site.  It won't occur to them to hire someone to perform user testing to get data from humans instead of bots.


How well do you know your readers/customers and app users?

#2 iamlost


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Posted 02 November 2015 - 05:32 PM

When asked what my base threshold for doing something such as add/include accessibility options I always fall back on the bog standard eCom shopping cart percentage - if one can build a business on that it must be worth doing to improve a business. Currently the averages (devices lumped) are 2.3% to 3.2% (range includes Canada, US, UK).
Note: depending on industry/sector it can be much greater, i.e. financial services average ~10%. As usual know your business.
Therefor if an accessibility improvement affects ~2.5% of a population it quite simply must be economically worth considering, cost being the only drag coefficient.

Disclaimer: the following numbers are out of date but are quickest I could recover; however, as they describe large population segments they should still be adequate for purpose.
US Census gross numbers of disabled:
* adult population (16-64): 17.5% of females, 19.5% of males.
* senior adult population(65+): 42% of females, 40.5% of males.

* ~26% (17% mild, 9% severe) have some form of vision impairment.
* ~24% (19% mild, 5% severe) have some form of dexterity difficulty.
* ~20% (18% mild, 2% severe) have some form of hearing impairment.
---only 5% of those with hearing impairment use hearing aid.
* ~16% have cognitive problems.
* ~3% have speech difficulties.

Note: the functional illiteracy rate is the greatest unmentioned disability of all.
* in the US that rate is ~14%. Even worse the truly functional (prose, document, quantitative) literacy rate has been static at ~13% for decades.
* in the UK the functional illiteracy rate for 16 year olds is officially ~42%.
And you wondered why the recommendation is has long been write for 10-12 year olds?

Now toss in the fact that 50% of the disposable income and 50% of the purchasing for those younger than 24 is by those over 50...

Accessibility is not an option, it is a base requirement. The numbers say so.

#3 earlpearl


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Posted 04 November 2015 - 11:24 AM

Some notes about sites representing local businesses vs world wide sites:


For our service type smb's we speak to the buyers, those currently using our services.   In depth questions mixed with fun questions.   We want to know, how they discovered us?   Why they chose us?  Where did they search from (typically where do you live but it could be where do you work)?   What was important in deciding to choose us?    Very in depth questions.  Really helpful.  


We clearly don't get responses on these points from site visitors who never contact us.  We get limited data of this sort from leads whom we interact with but don't ultimately buy.  What we DONT know, is why Didn't you choose us???   I would like to know that!!!   I'd like to know it in depth.  We get very scanty responses on that though.


Our ability to pursue these marketing questions is not universal for all local sites though.  In many or most businesses one doesn't have that time or depth to be able to ask those questions.   One example...fancy restaurants that use OpenTable (OT) for reservations.


Boy the restaurants LOVE, LOVE those reservations.  The restaurants mostly hate or dislike the costs of OT.   Heavy monthly charge plus a charge per head for a reservation.   One other big sticking point.   It is so so like the ITA's (Internet travel agents).   OT has the person's contact info.  If I use OT for a group of 4 the restaurant doesn't really know who we are or where we live, or how we found them and/or how we got to OT.


Meanwhile I get a lot of promo emails from OT selling "them".  Use OT a lot, add a lot of reservations and I'll get "free" OT dollars.  If I get $10,20, 40 in OT money I can pay for a meal or part of a meal with the OT dollars.   The restaurant will get the cash from OT.  But if I pursue that, I'm more a fan of OT than the restaurants.

#4 cre8pc


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Posted 09 November 2015 - 01:06 PM

With usability site audits being difficult to sell to stakeholders, it always amazes me how ignorant companies are when a site audit can help them understand their users.  


Me: Do you intend to sell globally?


Them: Yes.


Me: Where?  


Them: Oh, maybe the UK, Australia.  


Me: Do you want your site to pass accessibility laws for the UK?  


Them: What's that?  


I explain that Internet ecommerce is conducted differently across the pond from us.  Of course, their own people have no clue and site owners have no idea they could be sued or lose business.


Me: What countries do your analtyics indicate traffic is coming from?


Them: Not sure.


Me: (After I check).  They are coming from Russia, South America, etc.  Do you have data on device usage for these countries? Internet speeds? Operating systems? 


Them: No.  Hadn't considered that.


Healthcare facility sites


Me: Who uses your site?


Them: Families, prospective clients, someone who needs help


Me: So, some of your users are emotionally upset or could be under the influence of drugs?


Them: Yes


Me: Did your designers design for this behavior?


Them: No. Hadn't considered that.


I could go on and on and on.

#5 glyn


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Posted 09 November 2015 - 02:10 PM

Usability worms when the audience can be limited by cultural and social norms. When you cant, only best practice can fill the hole as it allows for the widest berth in a global context. This is for me why usability has its problem.

#6 iamlost


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Posted 09 November 2015 - 03:22 PM

Usability worms when the audience can be limited by cultural and social norms. When you cant, only best practice can fill the hole as it allows for the widest berth in a global context. This is for me why usability has its problem.

I agree.

Unfortunately most sites not only don't practice best practice they haven't a clue what it is or why it might be important. Most sites are owned and operated by the ignorant, incompetent, and stupid (derived from the fact that most folk are such). I am often ignorant, frequently incompetent, often foolish but rarely, I hope, stupid, and most importantly I (usually) know it, which means I can compensate more often than not. And thanks to friends and colleagues my failings are oh so politely noted. :D

The problem is not so much with usability - a site can be fairly easily made usable by most people, able and disabled alike, but with user experience. A subject that most 'experts' misdefine and then screw up implementations more often than not. To be more than blah bland means going more personal and very very few have the first clue about that. And it can mean serving more than one course of a page (will that be baked, fried, poached or raw?) be it simply presentation changes or wholesale content choices (oops, Google is frowning!).

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