Nov 24th, 2014

Is UX Better Than Marketing?


There has been a lot of debate around user experience (UX) and
marketing lately. Some people argue that UX is a part of marketing and
vice versa. Others argue that UX and marketing perform overlapping
functions. Whether this is the case or not, we have to accept that UX
and marketing are both crucial to the success of any online business
today. In an effort to discover which is better, this article will
attempt to get into the details of marketing and UX to be able to give
an accurate conclusion if UX is better than marketing.

Definition of modern marketing and the similarities between marketing and UX

To be able to discover if UX is better than marketing, we must first
understand what marketing is. Contrary to popular belief, marketing is
more than ads and sales. As a discipline, marketing involves thorough
market research in an effort to identify what would be valuable,
desirable and useful to consumers. Modern marketing strategies and
practices also call for participation during product and service
development in an effort to ensure that the resulting products and
services meet their target value propositions.

Today, marketers are involved in every step of production of goods and
services from sourcing raw materials to testing products and services
and offering feedback. When you look carefully at the role of modern
marketers today, it is similar to user-centred design. It is also
important to understand that desirability and emotional design have
always been part of marketing years before user experience became an
important part of online business success.

Advertising, promotion and placement are equivalent to users designing
for ”findability”, trust and persuasion. Furthermore, the term
conversion which is popular in UX comes from marketing. Long before
internet businesses became popular (in the 1980s), there was a
marketing revolution characterised by a strong shift away from pushing
the sale of existing products/services to customers, to fulfilling the
real customer needs through innovation and research. Since then,
marketing has been more about fulfilling the needs of customers as
opposed to simply increasing sales. In modern marketing, the marketer
assumes the role of a customer advocate in business. This is the very
essence of UX.

Differences between marketing and UX

The fact that modern marketing is similar to UX in many ways shouldn’t
be taken to mean that the two aren’t different. The main difference
between UX and marketing lies in the unit of analysis and scale of
operations. For instance, marketing is more concerned with abstract
consumer characteristics and product features in a broader
perspective. On the other hand, UX gets into the finer details.

From these differences, it is accurate to conclude that UX and
marketing compliment as opposed to being in competition with each
other. It is hard to say which one is better for the sake of promoting
user satisfaction or increasing sales. The same argument can be used
in the case of finance and accounting disciplines. You can’t say one
is more important than the other when managing money in a business
setting since both have roles to play.


Although both UX and marketing have definite roles to play, it is
important to recognise the conflict between the two. First and
foremost, some marketing roles overlap UX roles i.e. both are after
customer satisfaction when you consider the role of modern marketing.
It is also important to recognize the fact that both marketing and UX
may pursue conversions at the expense of ultimate positive
consumer/user experiences.

This is usually the case when both marketing and UX are used to
persuade users into believing something they shouldn’t believe.
Marketing and UX can also used to earn trust on something that is
untrustworthy. Rogue marketers and site designers pose a serious risk
because they use the two to persuade and earn the trust of consumers
on products and services which aren’t as good as they are portrayed.

Return on investment (ROI)

In regards to return on investment, UX tends to offer a better ROI in
the long-term especially in the case of online businesses. In fact,
marketing without UX is regarded as ”wasted effort” in online
business. It is also important to note that UX without marketing may
not do any good for your online business because people will have a
hard time finding your site.


From the above information, it is accurate to conclude that UX and
marketing complement each other. Although their roles may overlap
sometimes, business owners stand a better chance of succeeding when
they consider using them both.

Top 8 Signs Your Site Is Outdated


Having an updated site is a huge part of giving users the ultimate
user experience. For instance, your site users can’t enjoy using your
site if the pages load slowly because of outdated features in your
site. Also, unresponsive sites are downright outdated since they
aren’t up-to-date with the mobile devices most people are using today
to access the internet. Read more »

6 Effective User Design Tips for Inciting User Emotion

Overview: User design for inciting emotion

For more than a decade, web designers have focused solely on logical design factors i.e. meeting web standards, choosing layouts & fonts, organizing navigation etc. Design, however, is evolving at a very fast pace. The focus has shifted to inciting user emotion. Web designers are focusing more on creating user interfaces which give complete experiences by offering users web experiences that touch on their emotions on top of presenting them with aesthetically appealing sites that meet their product/service needs. Read more »

May 28th, 2014

Why Marketers Should Care About UX


User experience refers to any interaction potential or existing customers have with a brand. Although user experience is a relatively new concept to many people today, the concept has proven to be very important in online business. In the recent past, user experience was confined to web design. Today, the concept spans to on-page website experiences, the functionality and usefulness of correspondence such as emails, the significance/impact of ads displayed around the web, the presentation of brands on social media channels etc. Read more »

Increase User Retention With A Better User Experience


Convincing users to download your app isn’t as difficult as convincing them to use the app for a prolonged time period. According to recent studies, only 10-20% of users use apps in their device a few months after downloading them. This simply means that user experience is more important in getting users to use your app for a prolonged period of time. Although apps are supposed to create a very powerful first impression, they should also offer exemplary user experience for them to be deemed useful by users. In case you are interested in finding out how to increase user retention with your app/s, look no further. Below are 5 important tips that will definitely give your users a better experience which will in turn increase user retention.

1. Make sure your app provides a perfect on-board user experience

Considering majority of users stop using new apps within the first month, you need to make sure your app offers the perfect on-boarding experience. There are many ways to do that i.e. include welcome messages, tutorials, tours e.t.c. This is important since it helps to break app features into digestible chunks that are easy to understand. It is possible to automate the entire on-boarding experience using any app development software. Your focus should be educating your users as much as possible to drive engagement. You shouldn’t have problems retaining users if your app offers a perfect on-board user experience.

2. Offer In-App support

This is another important tip to consider when you want to create an app that offers the best possible user experience. The most popular apps offer some form of In-App feedback. Your app should make it extremely easy for users to offer their feedback since this is the only way to identify and fix app problems quickly. User feedback (positive or negative) offer real-time insights into app issues, user needs and opinions. Such information is crucial when your focus is increasing user retention rates.

In-App support should also include responses to users. Your app shouldn’t just receive feedback. It should be able to offer appropriate responses to users to inform users that their problems/concerns are being attended to. Such In-App support channels are bound to offer better user experience which translates to higher user retention rates.

3. Improve your app continuously

Web apps are continuously evolving. There are plenty of new app features/tools being introduced on a daily basis in an effort to improve user experience. To ensure your app stays up to par with the latest app trends, features etc., you must constantly look for ways of improving your app. For instance, you need to constantly look for ways of improving your app update process.

According to numerous studies done in the recent past, tedious/cumbersome app update processes are among the main reasons why users stop using most mobile apps after a few months. To avoid this, your app update process should match industry standards in every way including speed, features, engagement etc.

4. Consider engaging your app users on a personal level

Nothing beats personal engagement when it comes to creating customer loyalty as well as increasing user retention. Your app must personalize user engagement as much as possible to create a strong and special bond. It is possible to do this with your app using behavioral based messaging. For instance, your app should be able to message users automatically based on what they normally do or don’t do in your app. 

As an example, your app should be able to send automatic messages to users who haven’t registered themselves, their credit cards etc. Your app should also be able to send birthday messages, holiday messages among other kinds of messages known to boost personal engagement. Your focus when implementing this tip should be improving the quality as wells as the frequency of interaction.

5. Consider reactivating lapsed users

Acquiring new app users is harder and more costly than reactivating lapsed users. This explains why every app developer should focus on reactivating lapsed users before attempting to bring new users onboard. Event messaging is one of the best ways of reactivating lapsed users. You can consider sending incentivised or soft messages to lapsed users to encourage reactivation. This tip should however be considered after you have improved your app in the best way possible. Your focus should be ensuring lapsed users find a better app.


In summary, the above 5 tips are bound to create a better app user experience that boosts user retention. Although there are many other tips app developers can consider when they want to increase user retention by improving user experience, the above tips are bound to guide app developers on the right path.

3 Ways to Improve UX by Content Alone

When you think of User Experience Design, the word “design” might create the notion that UX is 100% design related. While it is certainly a major factor, there are other elements such as copy and content which can easily make or break the experience of your users. Putting all of your attention in to design elements can ensure you have a beautiful app or website. Failing to consider copy and content could ruin it all.

Here are 3 easy ways to improve your user experience by copy and content alone:

1. Short and sweet copy is an awesome UX

Whether it’s writing for search engine optimization, or if it’s wanting to boast yourself a little too much, there’s too many sites these days that are loaded with copy.  In reality, there’s no real need for so much copy. Your users are intelligent, and they also have a seriously short attention span. If they can’t scan your site in under 5 seconds, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose them.

Here are two great examples from the HR Consulting Industry. Can you notice the difference smart copy makes? (You’ll want to click the image to enlarge)

 FGP HR Consulting Website Thumbnail Better With Bacon Website Thumbnail The chances that the majority of your users are going to read all of your copy, word for word, is extremely slim. By developing your copy to allow for scannability and by highlighting key areas the viewer should focus on, you have a much better chance to convert a lead, or to simply have your user stick around a bit longer.

2. Microcopy

Microcopy is the text you’re using on buttons, forms, labels, etc. It’s the “click here” and “sign up” buttons you might be using on your website, or the UI elements you’re utilizing for your app. Regardless of how you’re using them, they are the difference between having a vague call-to-action and a compelling one that guides your users well.

One simple example is the all too familiar use of the “submit” button. Submit a form. Submit your email address. Whatever you’re doing, “submit” is bland and lacks any interest. Add some flair instead “Join Now”, “Start Banking”, etc. are much better ways to go.

Checking out two examples from the IT Consulting Industry, we can see a huge difference (click to enlarge):

Hitachi Consulting is using the “Click Here” button which provides close to nothing. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not persuasive. There aren’t any nouns.

Hitachi Consulting Website Thumbnail


BMC does an excellent job on the other hand. “Discover MyIT”, “Let’s Get Started”, “Master the Cloud”.


BMC Software Website Thumbnail

3. Continued Ease

With the above examples, maybe you’re a BMC or BW Bacon. Your messaging is clear and concise. Your microcopy is fantastic. Your users are clicking-through and getting to where you want them to go. You can easily ruin everything you worked on and disappoint your users with a sloppy user experience on the very next page. Let’s take a look at two examples surrounding Canadian Immigration.

 Alberta Immigration Website

The copy starts off short and sweet. It’s concise and gets the user to move on their way instead of reading paragraphs of copy. Good! We also have a defined call-to-action with their “learn more” button, though it could be improved.

The next page is as close to a collage as you can get. Regardless of what you want to do, you’re forced to read through over 600 words (200 less than this article) in order to determine where you want to go. Scannability is gone. Call-to-actions disappear. They got the user to stage two, and then left them to fend for themselves.

 Alberta Immigration Website Thumbnail

Canada Immigration has done a better job. While there aren’t any major call-to-actions, we are guided to first determine what info we’re interested in. Perhaps we want to visit Canada as a tourist. Once we get to the page we want, the content is laid out well. Short and sweet. Overall, a much better experience.


Visit Canada as a Tourist

Keep your experience strong

This article has discussed websites primarily. All of the information rings true if you’re working on an app, or an intranet project. It’s important to remember that UX isn’t 100% about design. It’s about providing a rewarding experience for your user. By keeping your copy short and to the point, directing your user down a path and compelling them to go down it, and by ensuring there aren’t any hiccups in their experience, you can ensure a positive experience.

 There are plenty of other sites and apps out there. The more vague and laborious you make your experience, the more you’re compelling your users to head elsewhere. Keep them with you by keeping this info in mind. Your users will thank you for it!

Jul 30th, 2013

The Top 5 Usability Myths

Usability Myths
When it comes to technology, there are various guidelines that are essential for good user experience. This includes accessibility, user interface, information architectures and usability. UX design is the ultimate human vs. computer interaction where certain methods and techniques are employed to produce a desired, predictable and well executed result. Accessibility, user interface, information architectures and usability can be controlled by a designer to suit the uncontrolled aspects like goals, user’s lifestyle and even habits. UX design uses the controlled aspects of technology to suit the uncontrolled.

Usability is a controlled aspect of UX design that seeks to ensure the end-user doesn’t strain or doesn’t encounter problems with the use of a web page or navigation. There are several myths that have been put up concerning usability in respect to UX design. These myths tend to make UX design seems like an unlikable aspect of computer technology when it simply shouldn’t be. The top 5 usability myths are:

Usability Makes Things Easy
Usability is not about making everything easy. The main areas that are brought about by usability are efficiency, effectiveness and ultimate satisfaction to the end user. Efficiency is in the sense that users perform the intended task with desired speed and can execute the desired command. Effectiveness measures its availability and unavailability. It brings the sense of comparison between usability with technology and without technology. Finally is the end user satisfied with what it’s capable of doing?

Usability Is Expensive
This is never the case as it’s normally portrayed. If, for example, only a limited number of users can access a page while others can’t because of lack of proper page formats. This doesn’t mean you will pull down the whole page, but it will just need additions or modifications on content to suit all. This will incur some costs, but in the long run it will be well worth it.

Usability Is Inquiring From Users Their Preference
Although usability is human centered, getting the right set of user preferences is far better than asking just a handful of users. The end users are the best source of information, but it should not be taken blindly. Getting the facts, across the board, helps to ensure it’s consistent before finalizing on usability.

Usability Must Look Nice
This will be a clear indication of misplaced priorities. The first goal of usability is efficiency and effectiveness while beauty comes later. Aesthetic value comes after it has been proved that a product is usable. One must dwell on the products usability before embarking on working on the beauty of the product.

Usability Can’t Be Measured
Before embarking on improving a product, its usefulness has to be measured in order to ascertain its efficiency and effectiveness. Several parameters are essential in carrying out an assessment in order to determine where and what to improve or change to get maximum usage. Before improving, a measure has to be taken so that the final product, when compared with the original, will clearly show the differences.

Always know the difference between a luxury product and a usability product. This will set apart the necessary improvements from the unnecessary improvements. In usability, the aim in increasing UX design is neither luxury nor beauty. The 5 items listed here are not an exhaustive list of all usability myths, but they do seem to be the most common when it comes to  making a new product or making improvements on an already existing product.

The Importance of UX in the banking industry

Bank Sign

As people, we all care about money. It’s not unusual for a person to want to check his/her bank account at least once a week, and it’s self-explainable why. We live in a financially-driven world, and many things revolve around our account balance. Therefore, even if we like it or not, we’re constantly in need to make financial decisions. When it comes to money, these decisions are mostly in regard to value exchange and transactions.When operating an ATM, using online banking services to pay for bills and/or to check the account, or when accessing financial services on our mobile phones, we always get in touch with user experience design. That being said, a quality design can ease the way people handle their finances, can reduce the time needed to access certain features, and can lead to a more pleasant experience overall. By comparison, a poorly thought out design can easily lead to the customer getting angry or upset and thus orient himself towards the competitions services.

Financial institutions have always focused on the performance of their products and services in order to attract customers. This focus hasn’t changed much over the years, although users have become more impatient and are seeking an immediate response to their needs and issues. User experience design plays a very important role in this, as it can facilitate users’ access to a number of services.

We live in a society where the market competition is highly fierce, and this is especially true when speaking about the banking sector. Nowadays, there are so many banks and financial institutions on the market that customers can be easily tempted to switch from one to the other. However, smart banks know how to adapt to customers’ expectations by making use of technology, and this is easily revealed by looking at their profitability stats. Banks which have understood that an adaptation to customers’ needs is essential had the most to gain, both in terms of clients as well as in revenue.

But how does UX design influence this field? In more than one way! Consider that user experience does not apply only to a website, although this aspect is perhaps the most important of all. Customers interact in person with self service ATMs, mobile banking, internet banking, pay by phone services and more. All these take UX design into account, for in the absence of it, there would be nothing else but tech-savvy devices that only few would know how to use.

The right user experience design can show the user exactly what he/she has to do to complete certain actions faster and easier, thus ultimately leading him to achieving his goals. And a user who understood how the bank’s product/service works from the first time will certainly be a satisfied user, one that is going to recommend the institution to everybody he knows. But perhaps more importantly, the right UX design can prevent users from suffering a negative experience, and thus there is a significantly higher chance for them to remain loyal to the bank for longer.

The “fad” of flat design?

iOS 7 Flat User Interface Design

Flat Design

There’s been a lot of press these days surrounding Jony Ive, from Apple, bringing flat design to iOS 7. He’s had a direct impact on the design of Apple hardware since 1992 and is now bringing his talent to the software space. A TechCrunch article back in April announced this move with a post titled “Apple’s Jony Ive Said To Be Bringing The Flat Design Fad To iOS 7 With Visual Overhaul ”. There is one particularly irritating word in the post’s title – “fad”. Flat design is not a fad. It’s always existed. Today’s flat design is born out of freedom. It’s a natural progression based on today’s technology. As the new look of iOS 7 was just released, now is a good time to discuss the changes that occurred, from skeuomorphism to flat.


In the possible event that you’re unaware of skeuomorphism, you should know that it’s heavily influenced by Apple. The first user interface introduced by Apple back in 1984 introduced ‘desktops’ and icons. As these concepts were new to most users, visual metaphors were required in order to help users learn. Skeuomorphism was a very valuable tool. The focus is on making objects familiar.

Essentially, we’re dealing with digital elements that are made to look like physical world objects. By presenting users with visual cues that they are already familiar with, they are understood. Today, iOS’ look is primarily skueomorphic. It’s filled with various 3D effects, shadows, and textures. Apparently, the skeuomorphic look is a direct attribution to Steve Jobs.

Flat Design

Flat design is gaining attention primarily by Microsoft’s Windows 8 as well as Google Now. Both focus on minimialistic design that is emphasizing usability, colours, and typography. With flat design, generally speaking, the obvious visual cues and textures are gone. Apple is now in the spotlight for embracing this principle with iOS 7. This change can be directly attributed to Jony Ive.

Flat design is aimed at utilizing the strengths of digital interfaces, rather than limiting the interfaces to real world confines. We can take a good look at Jony Ive’s view on this aspect from a Telegraph interview: “Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple. ”

The constraints or lack thereof

So why the shift to flat design?

1. Familiarity

Users no longer need analog world visual cues to understand how to use an interface. They’ve been there before. They know what a folder is. They know what a desktop is. They know how to use a button, and they understand what an icon is.

2. Smartphones

There’s no need to point out the importance of smartphones. Responsive design is now all the rage due to the massive amount of users visiting sites, or utilizing apps, via smartphones. By designing with a smartphone in mind, you realize that you can’t load a site up with massive graphics.

3. Display capabilities

Effects simply aren’t required anymore thanks to better display resolutions. The retina display, for example, provides such great resolution that the fakery that comes with skeuomorphism is no longer required. How often do you see this in good print design? Rarely. With good print design, the techniques from skeuomorphism isn’t required thanks to the beautiful resolutions possible from print.

4. Good Design

Simply put, flat design is almost a nod to the design of the past. That time before computers where flat images were required thanks to the restraints of printing. Furthermore, when “everyone” is utilizing skeuomorphism, why not buck the trend if you have the ability to do so?

Speaking of good design, now is a great opportunity to review Dieter Rams “10 Principles of Good Design”.

1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic
4. Good design makes a product understandable
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest
7. Good design is long-lasting
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
10. Good design is as little as possible

Now, think about these points one more time:

Good design is honest
Good design is as little as possible

There are times when skeuomorphism is required, and there are times when flat design is required. It’ll be entirely based on the project you’re developing. If you require realism and its real-world visual cues, then go with skeuomorphism. If something requires a flat, minimal design, then work for flat design. Work on both if needed.

With Apple diving in to the world of flat design, they aren’t joining the so-called ‘fad’ of flat design. They are, instead, focusing on the principals of good design. Isn’t that a good thing?

The HEART of Your Users’ Experience

Heart MetricsWhen deploying a web application on a large scale, it is important to gauge the level of user experience that users get when using the system.

For a long time, PULSE has been used to measure the quality of the user experience and provide data. However, it has had some shortcomings and this led to the introduction of HEART. This is an additional framework for user experience metrics which stands for happiness, engagement, and retention and task success. These metrics can track progress by UX teams towards certain goals. Happiness involves satisfaction of the user while task success is made up of both effectiveness of the system and its efficiency. The other three categories have been brought about by the availability of data about user behavior on a large scale. This framework is aimed at making the principles of user experience design easier to follow. It is important to keep in mind that not all the categories have to be used at the same time and one can always decide to exclude a category or two. This depends on the context in which the user experience metrics are being measured. The categories reviewed in more detail are:

1. Happiness
These are the attitude based metrics involving aspects such as the perceived ease of use of the system, the visual appeal, the likelihood to recommend and the overall satisfaction when using the system. These can be tracked easily by employing the use of a properly designed survey that tracks this metric over time showing progress as changes are being made to the system. The data from this metric is very important when deciding on new designs and determining the success level of design changes made.

2. Engagement
This refers to how involved the user is with a product. In terms of metrics, this refers to how frequently the user gets to interact with the system. This can be, for instance, the number of weekly visits, or even the amount of new content generated by the user. This is usually reported as a per user average. This metric is good for predicting user retention in the long term.

3. Adoption and Retention
This is a very important metric for distinguishing new users from existing ones. Adoption metrics are used to identify the number of new users over a given period of time. On the other hand, retention metrics are used to track down how many new users are still using the product after some time. Usage of a product may vary, depending on the factors that the UX team decides upon. In some cases, just visiting a website may count as usage while in other cases, there has to be something done in order to count as usage. The duration over which retention is measured may vary depending on the relative age of the product and stability.

4. Task Success
This combines several traditional metrics of user experience such as effectiveness, efficiency and the rate of errors. On a large scale, this can be done using a remote usability or a benchmark study. In the benchmark study, each user is assigned a specific task to carry out. Using server side log data can be quite a task, as one will not be able to know exactly what task the user was carrying out. If there is a defined sequence to carrying out a task however, one can easily measure which of the steps were followed by the user hence giving a measure of effectiveness and error rate. This is a very important metric when deciding on new features and major changes to a system.

At the end of the day, HEART metrics are meant to act as a pulse of your overall user experience. If you haven’t considered utilizing such a framework, perhaps now is the time to do so.

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