eCommerce Trends to Win More Customers in 2014

Retail Tablet AppThe eCommerce sector is approaching $300 billion in the U.S. alone, and retailers that want to compete need to stay on top of current trends. So what are these trends for 2014? And what can you do to ensure you’re providing customers with a delightful experience that will win their loyalty? These are exactly the types of question we answer in our latest webinar, “eCommerce Trends to Win More Customers in 2014.”

The webinar – which features Guest Speaker Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research Inc. Vice President, Principal Analyst serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals and uTest’s own Damian Roskill  – examines the 2013 eCommerce season and looks ahead to what you need to be ready for in order to achieve retail and eCommerce success in the coming year.  In addition to the looks back and ahead, solutions are provided to help you and your company prepare for major eCommerce needs, including:

  • Sustained peak periods that create large user demand
  • Site vulnerabilities
  • Users who use multiple screens and devices while shopping
  • Growing cross-border commerce

The webinar is available now on our web site. If you’re looking for more resources, check out our Retail App Testing eBook and Optimized eCommerce white paper and learn how to ensure you’re delighting your digital customers.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Understanding Accessibility Testing

uTest UniversityAs we live more of our lives online – everything from booking travel and shopping, to bill payment, watching TV shows or movies, and reading the news – a greater emphasis is put on the ability to access web sites and mobile apps, especially for people with disabilities. Of the 241.7 million adults aged 15 and older, 6.2% experience some level of difficulty with seeing, hearing, or having their speech understood, according to the 2010 U.S.Census Bureau Americans with Disabilities report.

Take into account the growing segment of adults who suffer from age-related sight or hearing loss and you begin to see a significant population who can be inadvertently shut out from using sites or apps that are not accessible. Companies who don’t pay attention to accessibility standards risk losing revenue from lost reservations or communications, and may even face litigation.

Web accessibility was brought to the forefront by a landmark class action lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) against Target Corporation over Target settled with the NFB for $6 million in 2008 and “agreed to update the site to accommodate sight-impaired online consumers, and to let the NFB regularly test those improvements once they are completed early next year,” according to Computerworld.

Despite this landmark settlement from a few years ago, accessibility testing still isn’t on the forefront of clients’ minds. The business case and value proposition is clear from the testing perspective and there are ways to easily work accessibility testing into your user experience (UX) or functional work.

In this uTest University webinar, accessibility testing expert Helen Burge discusses tips and tools for understanding accessibility testing, including the potential impact on the client’s reputation and the difference between accessibility, usability, and UX.

Some other topics covered in Helen’s “Tips and Tools for Understanding Accessibility Testing” webinar:

  • Web design often focuses on font choices for better readability, but color choices can affect how people consume the content.
  • Color ratios outlined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are an important checkpoint.
  • Testing tools range from screen readers and color analyzers, to Braille keyboards, HTML validators, and web developer toolbars.

Learn more about accessibility testing and other testing topics at uTest University, the learning hub for the testing community.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

The Secret to Great Apps is User Input

User FeedbackIn last year’s Outside In Awards presented by Forrester, the analyst firm honored two companies for good app design and overall development process. Why were these two applications chosen? They both embraced a high level of user input and feedback and saw great results from their efforts.

Ally Bank conceived of and launched a mobile app on a tight timeline and PwC Australia updated their intranet to make it more usable for today’s employees. Both projects started with a brainstorming session that involved employees and checked in with key stakeholders and end users throughout the project. Asking end users for input at the beginning of the process meant both companies started on the right path rather then spending time and energy on efforts that ultimately don’t fit user needs. From CMS Wire:

Although the successful projects were very different, they both utilized “nearly identical” steps, including research into what the customer wanted, utilization of personas, iterative prototyping and iterative testing. But a key, overarching consistency was that both organizations used feedback from customers and stakeholders throughout the various iterations. …

In the Ally project, customer feedback was solicited and incorporated at four specific steps in the design. The initial customer testing was conducted informally with sketches and paper prototypes, followed by formal prototype testing. …

The cross-departmental UX team at PwC also started with a two-day session, utilizing brainstorming techniques that it offers to clients to help design creative solutions to the business challenge at hand. To gain buy-in from employees and other end-users, the team created an even larger workshop, “a physical space where end users and stakeholders could create and give depth to personas using photos, screen shots and sticky notes.”

Some of PwC Australia’s clients and 6,000 employees were involved in both the kickoff session and the workshop, and then a roadshow was created to demonstrate and elicit feedback throughout the company about the developing intranet.

A continuous dedication to testing throughout the process ensured both companies remained on the right track and ultimately helped them create applications that worked and that users actually wanted to use. Within a month of launching its mobile app, Ally sees 70% of eCheck deposits being made via the new app. PwC saw “mproved access to information, faster workflow and a collaboration tool that now supports more than 1,000 project teams,” plus a 25% reduction in email volume.

When designing an app – whether for mobile, desktop or web – its vital to remember who will be using this app everyday. Thinking from the perspective of an end user, or even better, getting actual user input throughout the process can help ensure you create an app that will be useful and that users actually want. And input shouldn’t stop once your app is launched. When your application goes live you can tap into a treasure trove of real user feedback via social media sentiment, comment sections and app store ratings and reviews. Take these to heart as your continue refining and improving your application.

You can create a beautiful, awesome app, but if your users don’t see a need for it or think it’s overly complicated, they won’t open it and your efforts will be wasted.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

How a Tablet App Can Make or Break Your Retail Business

Retail Tablet AppToday there are dozens of options available for those looking for a tablet computer. In fact, U.S. consumers have so warmly adopted this trend that 34% now own a tablet, and in Q4 2013 tablet shipments were expected to exceed PC shipments. Additionally, 43% of U.S. tablet owners spend more time on their tablets than on their desktop computers, according to a study by Google Inc.

All of these stats only reinforce the fact that retailers need an amazing tablet app if they have any hope of surviving in the rapidly growing online retail market.

Internet Retailer and AnswerLab suggest that a good place to start is by creating a tablet app that is easy to use and easy to shop from. They offer the following tips for companies looking to launch or improve a tablet app:

Make search obvious and easy: Just as with smartphones and e-commerce sites, users need to be able to search and find products easily. AnswerLab suggests putting the search box at the top of the screen with a magnifying glass or the word “search” to let readers know they can type in a query there.

Be big on browsing: Allow ample room for consumers to leisurely browse high-quality images and interact with them. Tablets aren’t much heavier than many magazines, and many shoppers explore and use tablets in the same way they would page through a magazine, the report says. So focus on images and make the navigation options slim so that they don’t take up much space, AnswerLab says. The report also suggests allowing users to enlarge images by tapping or stretching their fingers and offering visuals signs such as arrows to notify consumers that there is more content available.

Have clear calls to action: Houzz does this well by displaying green price tags shoppers can tap to learn more about products and to purchase them.

Minimize the need for typing: Although it easier to type on a tablet than a smartphone, it’s still not ideal, AnswerLab says. Don’t ask for information that isn’t absolutely necessary and consider using multiple-choice options to reduce the amount of manual typing required, the report says. AnswerLab also suggests companies increase entry field sizes to make form field boxes large enough to tap. Consumers using tablets don’t have the option to click on a field with a mouse cursor, so fields need to fit the larger tip of a finger. The same goes for buttons, AnswerLab says. Ensure they are large enough to tap with a finger without selecting the wrong option.

The article also references Sephora and Houzz as two excellent examples of retail tablet apps. However, it seems at least in Sephora’s case that they may have overlooked careful functional testing before some of their latest releases. Sephora’s App for iPad only has an Applause score of 49, mainly getting dinged in reviews for crashes, failures to open and other complaints about functionality. Even the best user interface can’t overcome poor functionality.

Learn more about the biggest pain points for retail apps and how to address them in this free eBook.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

mTail Holiday Trauma

mobile user angry_137348504-thumb-380xauto-2378As the holiday shopping season wraps up, analysts will have even more evidence of one of mobile eTail’s most vexing trends: mobile web load times suffer severely during the holidays, when consumers expect the most from their chosen retail brands. Kissmetrics released a study earlier this year about consumer habits surrounding the load times of web apps, that highlights the importance of fast load times:

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

With the 2013 mean mobile load time already at more than 7 seconds, a holiday spike can be debilitating for a retailer. Apart from heavily beefing up your server rack, here are some common tips for decreasing load times on the mobile web:

  • Images should not be any larger or higher in resolution than they need to be
  • Enable browser caching to speed up load times for repeat visitors, but be aware that mobile web browsers generally have small caches
  • HTML, CSS, and JS should be no more lengthy or complex than it needs to be. It can also be compressed through a variety of minification programs online, if you’re comfortable submitting your company’s code into a form.

Those who have resolved to get their holiday shopping done from their mobile device will grit their teeth and wade through figgy pudding-slow load speeds. Anyone on the fence about the convenience of mobile shopping – or online shopping altogether-  may decide it’s not worth the bother, and that’s not a risk worth taking.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing