Bob Ricca

Let's Connect.

A Small Change Can Equal A Big Win

Crystalize the problem. Let users validate the solution.

I've been designing user interfaces for a long time and I've made a lot of mistakes along the way. And, unironically, I've found that the projects that have brought me the most success were backed up by a thorough understanding of the problem I was setting out to solve.

As a UX professional we have a variety of streams of customer input we can tap into...

  • Usability Testing
  • Heuristic Analysis
  • Customer Surveys
  • Usage Statistics

It's all about asking the right questions at the right time. Having a firm grasp on the problem is 3/4 of the battle.

One can solve the most complex problems with a curious spirit, some basic know how, and humility.

Don't worry, the data WILL paint a picture for you. Once you have confidence that the picture is thoroughly illustrating the problem, THEN start exploring solutions.

Thoroughly Understanding A Problem

When tackling any problem, do yourself a favor... explore the following areas...

  • What is the magnitude of the problem?
  • Are we measuring current performance now?
  • What is the context in which customers are encountering the problem?
  • What things can we use to evaluate if a solution was a success?

Taking the time to understand what IS will help lead you towards what CAN BE. Only then can you start to manipulate the UI and find those small tweaks that lead to big benefits. When done correctly the result can be extremely rewarding.

Let me show you a recent example.

A Small Tweak That Increased Engagement By 89%

Recently AWeber provided it's customers with over 3000 stock photos to make it easier than ever to create a professional looking email.

After it's release, multiple promotional efforts took place:

  • A microsite promoting the feature
  • A blog post was written promoting the feature and how one could use stock imagery in email
  • A promotional banner displays when logging into AWeber until dismissed
  • An email was sent to AWeber customers enticing them to try out the new feature

All of the efforts have helped increase customer awareness, however feature adoption rates were still somewhat low.

Then, with a heuristic analysis, some basic research, and a small UI tweak... engagement rates nearly DOUBLED.

Let's take a look at the design

The Initial Design

We are specifically focusing on the gray side bar that has the "Image Gallery" button.

Based heuristic analysis backed by usability tests conducted with customers we've found that this interface, although simplistic, was problematic.

Time and time again customers would overlook the option thinking the gray meant that it was "disabled" and not available.

Furthermore, customers who did not see any of our promotional efforts actually had no idea that we even offered this feature at all.

So, what thought went into the new design?

The new design is deceptively simple yet hits on a few key subjective points.

First, the button is blue signifying that it is an active choice.

Secondly, to better draw it out as an option we added the word "or" and added an icon into the call to action to signify "hey, this piece of UI might be slightly more important".

Lastly, you'll notice that the order of the options slightly changed. Based on usability testing and user scenarios we were able to determine the hierarchy of importance. We found that a lot of customers actually don't favor the subliminal message associated with stock photography as a whole within their message. With that in mind, it made sense to prioritize as follows... upload your own image, use a stock photo, provide an image url.

Side By Side Comparison

So as you see the two variations side by side, the differences are minimal in the eyes of someone who isn't paying much attention.

Even more so, the amount of development time to make the change was minimal at most.

Measuring Matters

Looping back to what I said before, we would have never known if this was impactful if we didn't have benchmark stats for comparison, an active customer feedback loop, or if we we're using metrics to continually evaluate success.

UX and IxDA for the win!

Want to see other projects I've worked on?