Yesterday I spoke at the annual web effectiveness conference in Copenhagen organised by Bowen Craggs. The conference is interestingly different to many as it has a clear ‘corporate website’ and ‘corporate communications’ focus.
Amongst the many high quality presentations were:
Ben Jefferies, Head of digital communications, BP – who gave a fascinating account of the evolution of BP communications and communications strategy – particularly in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon Incident where everything changed. He talked about how BP changed from being ineffective (almost passive) on communications and social media – to (stimulated by the incident) reactive and then a pro-active information channel – for example they built a dedicated 24/7 team to run communications and produced 180 films which alone received over 10 million views. He also talked about striving for consistency and quality to tame the ‘wild west’ of their many many individual websites. Interesting that they have now had to tackle this problem several times – the wild west keeps coming back.
Tom Betts, Chief data officer at the Financial Times – talked about how data is used at the FT to inform content engagement, personalisation and performance. In particular he defined the engagement model they use (RFV) which factors in Recency, Frequency and Volume to define different types of user based on their engagement – and showed how this was used to attempt to engage with those with whom there was more potential commercial opportunity.
The title of my talk was Debunking common usability myths – a title that the conference organiser David Bowen thought would resonate with their audience – as one of the themes he hears quite often is “well our usability test – said it worked so we did it…”. In my 45 minutes I packed in quite a lot of info over 74 slides (yes 74!) and included a live demonstration of how to perform a usability test (thanks to my audience volunteer who agreed to be the guinea pig test participant in front of the whole audience!).
Also in my talk I:
- defined usability (ISO 924: effective, efficiency, satisfaction etc.) as a strategic endeavour which can and should be measured
- defined User Experience (UX) – essentially the effect on a person’s perceptions and behaviour that result from using or anticipating using something – UX includes consideration of emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses that occur before, during and after use (many other definitions exist)
- defined User Centred Design (UCD) and showed the different levels of design one must consider to create a profitable user (customer) interaction; this includes considering desirability, usability, persuasiveness and emotional impact (see our page explaining more about this)
- explained and demonstrated some of the principles of usability derived from academia, and practitioners including Norman (83), Nielsen & Molich (90), Schneiderman & Plaisant (2009)
- explained some of the principles of perception which can impact design, layout, legibility and how quantitative data is received and interpreted
- busted some usability myths and turning them on their heads showed things like how to do good research and testing, when research and testing should be performed for the biggest ROI, and how navigation should be full of information scent (not the 3 click rule myth!)
- gave a live usability testing demo – illustrating the main features of a good test
All in all an excellent conference which I hope the delegates got a lot from. One told me (rather flatteringly) that I “should branch out into professional after-dinner speaking” – I guess my jokes must be getting better!