Q&A from Future of Digital Marketing

By Peter Ballard @Ballyfool

We attended econsultancy's Future of Digital Marketing event and asked brands about their UX design challenges. Here's a flavour of the questions asked and our answers.

Q: Mobile site AND regular site, or one which recognises your Chanel/Device properly?

A mobile site should always render appropriately irrespective of device - it should be device agnostic.

Mobile site content should differ from a desktop version as a user will not want, or need, full-blown content for phone access (page render time; difficulty viewing content; tasks can wait until in front of the PC). Therefore this supports a two-site argument.

However, if the whole site gave easy phone access then wouldn’t this be better? It depends on the site as I may, for instance, want to see the entire range of pyjamas offered by a retailer but I doubt I would want to access an entire, detailed product range on a financial services site.

For example, I may want a contact details page but I doubt I would be in so much of a rush to apply for a mortgage that I couldn’t wait until I was in front of my PC. In addition, many users inhibit and prioritise their mobile internet usage if they do not have such internet-friendly phones.

To conclude, before defining your mobile strategy talk to your users and find out from them what they will want and need.

Q: Are there any key points when online video can help (or hinder) a UX & Sales journey?

Video can do both. As M&S evidenced this morning, used well, video can increase conversion and engagement metrics. However, it can also detract from the experience, or lead the experience away from the check-out.

It depends whether your content is designed to be fully immersive, or complementary to other content. If it is fully immersive, and contains the whole message, it is worth considering whether this is hosted on your site, or discoverable in other off-site media such as YouTube, and used to draw people to your brand.

If it is complementary, we have some guidelines to hosting video on your own site, which include things like breaking videos into short clips, giving good text based descriptions of content, and letting users know how long the clip is. Give users a ‘sense of control’ of their experience, allow them to explore bit by bit, so that they can opt to consume your video, rather than feel forced into it.

Q: Should UI for mobile be built specifically for the device, or more directly inspired from web UI?

Great question! We’re beginning to see mobile designers introduce navigation systems that do look more familiar from web. This has been driven primarily because many Apps have delivered too limited a range of function or content.

As consumers want more from their apps, we’re having to design ways to interrogate and structure content that can cope with greater layers of content. I recently used the Isle of Wight Festival App, and it carried a very functional, always visible, two level top-of-page navigation, and it helped create a very simple and intuitive way of making sense of multiple data points (Bands, stages, times, etc).

This trend will also increase as more sites are developed in mobile web technology, but borrow some of the UI look and feel from Apps.

Q. What was the Facebook case study you referred to?

This was a fascinating piece of work we conducted for Direct Line, which involved building a customer collaboration area within Facebook, which we called the Direct Line Ideas Lab.

The first project had customers helping design an iPhone app for people who suffered an accident in their vehicle. The app helped drivers, often in some state of shock, report the accident, capture the details of the other people involved, upload to Direct Line photos of the scene and any damage, start the claims process, and help in getting their vehicle repaired or recovered.

Our facebook panel users designed the features they wanted included in the app, gave their opinions on how it should work, and even suggested names and designs for the app. They were then able to send their ‘ideal’ app to their friends and get it rated. This tapped into the inherent social nature of the environment.

One of the nice surprises was just how engaged the customers were in the ‘Ideas Lab’ and we had many post messages of encouragement and thanks on the wall to ask when the next project would start.

Peter Ballard

I co-founded Foolproof with Tom Wood back in 2002. Today I work across a range of clients, particularly in the roles of Experience Planner and Client Partner. In my role as Experience Planner, I ensure that our design teams have access to the right insight to respond appropriately to the business and creative challenges faced by our clients.

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