The Story of my Chaos Through Pictures

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Telling a story through pictures creates a connection with the world around us. Life doesn’t happen in one frame or moment; it’s several layers of events that create a composition.

Photoshop is one of many programs within the creative suite used to express creativity. I haven’t used Photoshop very much over the last couple of years, so I am excited to begin exploring it again.  Every time I utilize the program, I find something new and look forward to learning more in the coming weeks.

“Life, as we know it, is more like a video. We are aware of a multitude of things happening around us all at once.”

Composition

This week I used Photoshop to explore its composition tools to create a story. I used several images of my kids and our dogs to show the chaos in capturing a few “perfect” pictures. Although our dog did not pull a photo down from the barn, this story displays the laughter, craziness, and love we shared. The composition was created by cutting images out utilizing the tools within the program and placing them in a way to give the illusion of depth and perception. I used the transform tools to distort the images, drop shadows, and a lot of color balance to create contrast. Additionally, I used the burn and dodge tools to work on the shadows and highlights. For the string and clips, I created these in Illustrator and brought them into Photoshop, where I adjusted the color and added shadows to bring them into the image.

My composition has ten elements to create my story. I used the side of the barn where we had a photoshoot this past fall and kept the color and lighting in the mid-tones as it was an overcast late fall day. I used various shading to create the appearance of objects being closer, further away, or behind another element. I did struggle with the lighting on the bottom right images; I wanted them to be brighter but didn’t want them to appear washed out.

The centerline of the composition is the string of images showcased on the side of the barn. They show silliness, seriousness, and fun. The illusion of the dog grabbing a photo draws your eyes back up to the images – and you resist the urge to giggle. The dog on the bottom left catches your attention while pulling your eyes back to the other dog, causing mischief. It’s a collection of chaos that shows the inner emotions of my family, my tribe.

Focal point

A key element in design composition has a strong focal point. It does not matter how many elements you have included; however, you need to draw the viewer into an essential part of the design. Design communicates or tells a story; therefore, the focal point should be the most important message to the audience. The focal point for my composition is in the bottom right, my children. The entire design is about them and their relationship. They adore each other; their love is evident in these pictures. They are siblings, and it can be sticky, including when the dogs get in the act. But the focal point is her lifting him, making him smile, and that is the message I wanted to communicate to the viewer. Their relationship, even on the bad days, is rock-solid and unbreakable.

Robin Lande stated in her book Graphic Design Solutions, “Composition is the form, the whole spatial property, and structure resulting from the arrangement of graphic elements — type and images — in relation to one another and to the format, created to visually communicate.” Catching a person’s attention is essential for someone to be drawn to your design.

Conclusion

Photoshop is only one window into the creative world of design composition. It’s important to remember that design is all around us and not only speaks to our needs but gives us emotion with which to connect. I will continue to explore the tools within Photoshop, and I encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone to start creating their story.

References:

Tenenbaum, Sharon. (22 January 2020.) Telling a Visual Story Through Composition and Perspective. Retrieved from http://www.sharontenenbaum.comhttps://www.sharontenenbaum.com/blog/2020/1/22/telling-a-visual-story-through-composition-and-perspective

Landa, R. (2019). Graphic design solutions. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Preparing for Success with Content Strategy

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There are many important factors in developing a successful content strategy specifically for digital. With the knowledge and tools that are available which show the effectiveness of producing a content marketing strategy, more companies are developing content planning teams. Although companies have increased content planning objectives, they are still not achieving the results they were hoping for. This is due to lacking critical factors when putting together the strategy which are important for success.

“With the advancement of technology, communication has now changed from being a written medium to a virtual medium through the growth of the internet.”

The first step is finding the problems within the existing content so you can offer solutions to convince others that a strategy is needed. The problems become solutions which lead to opportunities for a successful end product.

What’s wrong

You will need to document what is wrong with the content to get started. The most common issues with content are:

  • Weak calls to action
  • The content is not speaking to the audience you are trying to reach
  • Voice or tone is off brand
  • Content is not directed to what you want them to do or their need
  • Content is not updated
  • Content is too long

You may use a combination of methods to review the site’s content to come up with a hypothesis of what is wrong with the current content.

  • Conducting an audit of the site will allow you to examine the content. This will help you review the audience, broken links, accessibility and how easy it is to scan for the key message.
  • To focus on the issues, you can conduct an analytics review which takes a look at the user experience. This includes pageview, user paths through content, search terms, how it was accessed and traffic sources. Understanding how the user experiences the site will help determine how the content should be written and placed.
  • Another way to see how the content is working is to conduct user testing. Actual user feedback will help you empathize with the user and how they felt during their experience. This will include readability and being able to key word search.

Selling the need

Once you have identified the problems, the data and the solutions pulled together, you will need to get the budget approved to move forward. Compile your results and include it in your proposal and speak from the heart including any previous experience with results of using a content strategy.

  • Claim – The statement you are asking them to accept
  • Grounds – The data and facts that support your claim
  • Warrant – How the data is relevant to your claim
  • Backing – Information that supports your warrant
  • Qualifier – The data that supports the warrant
  • Rebuttal – The response to anticipated challenges to your claim

If you are not able to obtain approval for the budget in order to proceed, don’t feel discouraged. Business objectives change and there are several small changes that can be made in the meantime. Continue to collect data and revisit at a later date.

Preparing for success

Getting started you will need to identify the key stakeholders and project manage every step of the strategy to keep everyone on task. Set project objectives, expectations and timeframes for what you will need to complete. It’s important that you have this content prepared and ready to go well ahead of the timeline. In addition, you’ll need to know which type of content performs well in different contexts, that is, with different audiences and also across platforms. Using the data, you have prepared will help you plan out the content needed.

Possessing the ability to continually problem-solve and learn new things will help you be successful. It does take some patience, creativity and an analytical review; as well as, to some extent at least, experimentation. Have a clear vision of your goals, and a business plan in place as well as up-to-date tools to continue to review results.

Conclusion

The importance of content marketing is going to increase tremendously in coming years. Keeping up to date on trends, utilizing tools for data collection and analysis, conducting testing and updating content will lead to successful content strategy.

 

References:

Talk Business. (n.d.). 5 essential factors for a successful content marketing strategy. Retrieved from http://www.talk-business.co.uk: https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2015/04/23/5-essential-factors-successful-content-marketing-strategy/

Verblio. (n.d.). How Agencies Should Sell Content Marketing Strategy to Clients. Retrieved from http://www.verblio.comhttps://www.verblio.com/sell-content-marketing-strategy

Digital Marketing Institute. (n.d.). How Agencies Should Sell Content Marketing Strategy to Clients. Retrieved from http://www.digitalmarektinginstitute.com: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/blog/5-essential-tips-for-a-successful-content-marketing-strategy

Casey, M. (2015). The Content Strategy Toolkit
     Peachpit, a division of Pearson Education.

I am my content

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I work in Healthcare communications creating customized solutions for clients to meet their member’s needs.  The content is the heart of the message whether it is digital or print. Whatever the main message is, the content will provide the member with the information they need to be successful in their wellness journey utilizing the resources and tools available to them. For my industry, the main issue is that members don’t understand their benefits or the additional tools that have ben provided. In order to clarify communications, it has to be in easy to understand content that delivers keep points with clear directions on how to access tools.

In order to keep the members attention in multiple communications, the subject has to change giving new information to keep their interest. Deciding how much content is needed can be tricky. While you want to give the member important information, you have to consider the method of delivery being used.

  • Email – Keep the content short and precise making sure important call to actions remain above the folder.
  • Mailers – Designed according to the amount of space needed. Postcards will be short, while self-mailers can be a few pages/panels.
  • Website – House many different content pieces and articles past as well as present. The site can also be linked to from other communications such as mailers or emails.

“Very best content strategy is one that mirrors the users’ mixed diet. There’s no reason to limit yourself to only one content type.”

In order to make a communication successful, the content has to be written after a thoughtful outline has been developed. The outline will pull all of your thoughts together providing direction to a writer as well as the client if needed. You need to understand your audience, what the issue or main topic is and most importantly how you intend to offer a solution. This doesn’t just apply to healthcare; this concept can be used in other industries such as fashion, vacation and technology. For example, if you are targeting a male audience for watches in an email campaign, you will want to design towards a male demographic. The content has to have a masculine tone and a solution as to why he must have this watch.

Additionally, I have worked within content management systems. I managed the content for well-being campaigns within a mobile app. To get started, it was important to understand the audience and break the content down into sections or content mapping. Once this mapping had been established, further planning was done to ensure that all of the content was making sense as it led into the next topic. The mobile app was designed to give the user access to health and wellbeing content while earning incentives to continue through the program. The content was written to make sure the user was engaged and continually given the opportunity to learn more. The user would choose a weekly topic to work on, and as they completed an activity, they earned incentives. The campaign has proven successful and continues to grow while helping the members live a healthier life.

I have learned a lot about content working in print, web, email and mobile. Every scenario has a different solution, but the backbone of a successful campaign lies within the content. The most successful designs I have been a part of were due to working closely with a copy writer from the start. As the design progressed, having the copy writer by my side to edit and adjust content ensured the objective was being met. It is important in the beginning of any project, large or small, to have a clear plan on how to tackle the content needed. Outlines and content mapping are essential in staying organized and visualizing where you intend the project to go before even starting. Content is part of everything we do and see. To understand how to develop a successful campaign or project, you must first understand the importance of content.

 

 

References:

Nielsen, J. (2007 November 11). Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.nngroup.com: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/content-strategy-long-vs-short/?lm=content-strategy&pt=course

Rampton, J. (2016 October 2). 5 Key Components To A Successful Content Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/10/02/5-key-components-to-a-successful-content-marketing-campaign/#551090655ebc

(n.d.). What Is a Content Map? The Definitive Guide. Retrieved from http://www.conductor.com: https://www.conductor.com/learning-center/content-map-guide/

How has content changed?

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When I hear the term decade, it sounds like a lot of time; but when I say 2010, it feels like yesterday. Ten years ago, I was getting married, our daughter was 5 years old and we had a lot of plans ahead of us. Social media was a big part of our wedding, showing pictures of the events leading up to the big day and then sharing pictures of our wedding with our loved ones. If you step back in time and look at how content strategy has changed in the last decade, you will realize how significantly it has evolved.

To drive traffic ten years ago, companies would just keep pushing content out to reach as many people as they could hoping volume increased traffic to their sites. Within the last decade, the strategy has become much more fine-tuned. Marketers are looking to identity and satisfy the needs of those they want to reach. This requires research and data in order to define the needs of the customers they wish to influence.

According to Brian Dean, in order to keep up with successful content marketing, you need to understand SEO, know how to promote content and be able to use analytics to measure the success. The outcome will influence the future strategy.

“I’m mapping out what I want to say relative to the goals I’ve set, so that every article contributes to my overarching business objectives in some way. It’s more work for sure, but it’s necessary these days.”

Understanding the audience

In order to create successful content, you must understand to whom you are writing. This research can include creating personas. Content is no longer about key words but rather about finding the pain points of your customers and creating solutions to their needs. Once you’ve identified the problem or need, you can start brainstorming keywords that are relevant to building your content. Content is no longer just about traffic – it is about conversions. Content that is built around keywords that demonstrate zero empathy – don’t work.

“So it’s important to create content that caters to your goals.”

Summary

While I may no longer share photos of getting ready for our wedding, I do share the kids’ milestones and our yearly family vacation. As my life continues to change, so too has my use of social media changed in regard to the subject matter I choose to share.

For content strategy in marketing, a lot has evolved and influenced the direction of how marketers generate what they write. The research involves learning who the audience is, how to address their needs and finding solutions to drive traffic back to a site.

It is not just a one stop shopping to see traffic increase. It’s an evolving process that requires learning from mistakes and improving how to connect with the customers.

 

 

References:

Cullinan, F. (2013, June 24th). A brief history of content strategy | Firehead. Retrieved from firehead.net: https://firehead.net/2013/06/a-brief-history-of-content-strategy/

Gillen, P. (2019, January 14). Content Strategy Answers. Retrieved from contentstrategyanswers.com: https://contentstrategyanswers.com/

Halvorson, K. (2018, December 18). Ten Years Later: The Discipline of Content Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.braintraffic.com: https://www.braintraffic.com/blog/ten-years-later-the-discipline-of-content-strategy

Patel, S. (2019, April 1). 10 Years of Content: How My Approach Has Changed from 2009 to 2019. Retrieved from http://www.sujanpatel.com: https://sujanpatel.com/content-marketing/10-years/

Dean, B. (2019, February 19). We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.backlinko.com: https://backlinko.com/content-study

Discovering Abstract Art

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An abstract painting does not depict a person, place, or thing. With abstract art, the subject of the work is what you see: color, shapes, brushstrokes, size, scale, and, in some cases, the process itself. The painting may access your imagination where you may see an environment or it may bring on an emotion specific to you.

Abstract art is one of my favorite forms of art to view. I love that it will make me think and invoke an emotion. While looking at an abstract painting, I find myself falling into the layers of colors and shapes. I try to imagine what the artist was trying to share with the world and come up with my own interpretations. Painting is an art form I have never been able to master; I struggle with perfection instead of going with my heart.

Replicating a work of art

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Photo: Abstract Art Gallery. Artist: Mira Zupljanin

This week I used Photoshop to replicate an abstract painting by Mira Zupljanin. I chose Photoshop because I wanted to explore the brushes and explore the colors that were used. There are so many aspects that I love about this painting. The choice of colors that seem to highlight off of one another. The perspective of the line from which the colors grow and the choice of bold colors that layer onto one another. It almost at times looks as though it is a reflection under the horizontal line. My eyes initially focus on the middle of the painting then move back and forth between the colors on each end.

Photoshop brushes

This was not easy and although my attempt does not look pretty, I feel like I was able to experience the levels of colors within the painting. I knew that I would not be able to duplicate the painting but rather focused on the design of the colors using the brushes to build on each stroke. I don’t have very much experience in using brushes for effects, and hope to explore them further within this class.

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“It is an art style that breaks away from drawing art as it is represented in real life. Abstract art is about exploring form and color.”

The group of complex shapes makes a wave of parallel lines. Even with my ghastly attempt at recreating the design, my eyes continually move back and forth, never leaving the design. The contrast of using bold primary colors in a variation of shades gives depth to the painting creating a movement. The lighter colors are in the distance while the louder bold colors are up front.

Summary

My favorite part of this assignment was exploring not only the brushes within Photoshop but the colors layering onto one another. The colors are what bring dimension and depth to the painting by Zupljanin. I have learned how the placement of colors and textures create depth within the painting. I have also found that I have a lot to learn about the brushes within Photoshop and look forward to exploring how to use these going forward.

I encourage you to take a trip to an art museum. Find a painting that catches your eye, take a deep breath and let yourself escape into what you see. Feel the colors and the shadows while letting the different layers within pop out. What does it remind you of? How does it make you feel? Art is the door to finding your creativity.

 

References:

Cleveland, Colleen. (n.d.) What is Abstract Art? – Definition, Techniques, Types & Paintings. Retrieved from http://www.study.com: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-abstract-art-definition-techniques-types-paintings.html

Lepore, Jennifer. (n.d.) 6 Key Elements to Abstract Art Success. Retrieved from http://www.artistsnetwork.com: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-subjects/abstract/6-key-elements-abstract-art-success/

Executive Summary – Usability testing

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Connecticut Family Orthopedics offers a variety of orthopedic care to its patients including urgent care, surgery and physical therapy. The website provides patient information about the practice to existing patients as well as potential patients. The current site offers access to the patient portal, request an appointment and information about the team. There are a lot of useful resources but needs updating for a better user experience. Usability testing was conducted taking a deep look into the design, functionality, navigation, and content. Recommendations for a website redesign are included. The analysis concludes that several improvements can be made to meet the users’ needs.

Methods of Evaluation

The executive summary contains the following items that show where the current website design can improve and analysis on users’ wants, needs and expectations:

·       Competitor analysis

·       Personas and scenarios

·       A proposed interview study

·       A proposed website user survey

·       A card sorting study

·       A proposed diary study

·       Heuristic website evaluation

·       Usability testing sessions report

Analysis Results

The competitive analysis shows that the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website is similar to the other practice’s websites from a content perspective. From a design perspective, there are some areas which the other sites are doing better, such as how the competitors sites have subtle tones such as grey with blue headings and a much smaller heading image. Connecticut Family Orthopedics had the longest navigation bar with 8 drop down categories with several sub topics under each. These should be consolidated with stronger categories to make them easier to navigate and moving the main navigation up to the top of the page. With the main phone number up top, there is no need for the large buttons in the top of the page as most of the information can be easily found in the navigation.

The participants in the card sorting study found the navigation to be lengthy as well as feeling there were too many separate options located at the top of the site. They found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to their frustration. Each participant grouped the topics in 5-6 categories verse the current site having 7 navigation tabs and 6 separate links at the top of the page. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Participants in the usability study stated that the website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. Too much going on created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in smaller navigation with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The content throughout the site is simply written but without specific information related to each category. Organizing the site with relevant information for each category or topic will create a smoother experience for the user.

Recommendations

Suggestions include reducing the clutter on the home page, adding a search function and making the site responsive. Well defined categories, easier to read content with bulleted lists and condensed images to bring the relevant content above the fold. A cohesive, clean design will need to be deployed across all the website’s pages. Existing content should be reviewed and amended to adhere to digital best practices including accessibility.

  • Accessibility
  • Responsive design
  • Create clean overall design with subtle color variations of blue and grey
  • Condense image size to move content above fold
  • Remove top buttons and place in navigation which will be moved up
  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation
  • Search function to find key topics easily
  • Email sign up for newsletter

Competitor Analysis

A competitive analysis is the analysis of competitors and how the businesses compare. By evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of competition, we are able to find a competitive advantage. The Connecticut Family Orthopedic website was compared to competitive practices to assess what is working and what can be improved.  View full analysis

Business and marketing requirements are that the user should be able to easily view the specialties, doctors and access the patient portal for their records as well as to pay their bill. The site needs to be responsive to be viewed easily on laptop, mobile and tablet. They should be able to navigate the site easily to find the different pages and research the facility before visiting. Outpatient services such as therapy should be easy to access and if questions arise, be able to find the contact information quickly.

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website is similar to the other practice’s websites from a content perspective. From a design perspective, there are some areas which the other sites are doing better, such as how the competitors sites have subtle tones such as grey with blue and a much smaller heading image. Connecticut Family Orthopedics had the longest navigation bar with 8 drop down categories with several sub topics under each. These should be consolidated with stronger categories to make them easier to navigate and moving the main navigation up to the top of the page. With the main phone number up top, there is no need for the large buttons in the top of the page as most of the information can be easily found in the navigation.

Personas and Scenarios

A Persona is a fictional representation of an actual user or perspective patient of Connecticut Family Orthopedics website. These personas will help drive design decisions by viewing common user needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning before design has actually started. In this study, three personas of potential Connecticut Family Orthopedics users were analyzed. The three personas ranged in age and life stages to gain insight of who the user of the website is and what their needs are. View Personas

Interview

Interviews are essential to having a better understanding of the users’ needs. Interview users with a script and questions will help to gain insight in how clients of Connecticut Family Orthopedics interact with the site and what their needs are.

  1. Which features are most important to visitors of Connecticut Family Orthopedics?
  2. How can Connecticut Family Orthopedics improve the navigation and experience for its users?
  3. What would make the website a helpful resource for patients going through orthopedics needs?

View introduction and questions here.

Survey

Surveys were conducted in order to obtain qualitative and quantitative research about Connecticut Family Orthopedics website visitors and how they feel about their experience. This is to get a better understanding of how they interact with the site as well as what they feel is needed for an easier user experience.

View survey questions here.

Diary Study

A Diary Study is important to better understand how users interact with the site. Participants will document their experiences throughout the study rather than a one-time interaction. This useful information from visitors will show what the users’ needs are when visiting the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website.

Questions the study will attempt to answer

  1. What reasons are the users visiting the site and are they finding their needs met?
  2. How easy or difficult do users find the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website to navigate?

Questions and tasks for the participants

Users will be asked a series of questions each week that will help understand the users experience when interacting with the site. Expected questions:

  • Did you visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics office this week?
  • If so, did you visit the website prior to your appointment?
    • What information were you searching for on the website?
    • Were you able to find this information?
    • What could have been better about this experience?
  • If you did not visit the site this week, is there something that would have been helpful for you on the site prior to your visit?

Amount of people for the study

There will be 15 participants for this study. This would allow for diversity of users, including people of all ages, website ability, and expectations.

How the participants will be chosen

There will be two ways for participates to sign up. One will be in person when they check in at the front desk in office. There will be a flyer with information and fields to fill out for signing up if they are site users. The second will be a pop-up box on the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website when visitors open the website. This pop-up box will invite users to take part in the study, as active users of the site are more likely to participate. As an incentive, participants will be given a $50 Visa gift card at the end of the study.

Additionally, at the end of the study all participates will be invited to part take in a one-time open conversation with other participates as well as office staff. This will help each participant to add to one another’s feedback. Including the office staff will open new conversations about the users’ needs within their care as well as the use of the website in general. Since the site is about the user’s overall heath it will be beneficial to hear from them about their entire experience which leads them to the site. The onetime session will include food and a $25 gift card to an area restaurant.

Methods to be used
The best option to use for this study will be email. The email will remind the participant to engage and answer the questions given for each prompt. The email will have a link that will take them to a landing page with the questions to be easily answered. This can easily be completed from a laptop or mobile device and the answers will be collected.

Potential benefits and drawbacks to this method

Benefit – A benefit to email is many users check their email continuously throughout the day. They can easily click on the link to answer the questions from the email straight from their phone or from the laptop. It’s a quick way to gather data from each user once they respond to the questions on the landing page.

Drawback – A drawback may be if a user does not use email regularly or is easily frustrated by online surveys.

Length of Study

This study will last for six weeks. This will give several entries from the participants each week during the six-week study.

Analysis of Results
The results will be collected and analyzed signal-contingently. The Affinity Diagram will be used to help analyze the data to determine if there are trends in the results. A service provider such as Hyperquality, who is an independent quality assurance firm that provide unbiased monitoring and analysis of customer interactions, can help manage entries. They will provide a platform where the data can be analyzed.

Email sample:

Dear <PARTICIPANT NAME>,

Thank you for taking part in this study to help us improve your online experience with Connecticut Family Orthopedics . You will receive an email at the email address you have provided every week reminding you to submit your answers for the week through a link within the email. Your answers will be analyzed to help Connecticut Family Orthopedics enhance your online visit. The first prompt will begin on Sunday, MONTH XX, 20XX and end when you submit your last entry starting on Sunday, MONTH XX, 20XX. If you have any questions, you may contact us at any time at email@email.com.

Thank you again for your participation,

Connecticut Family Orthopedics

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. In a card sorting session, participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them and they may also help you label these groups.

Introduction

Total of three participants were used for this study. Participants completed the activity remotely using Optimal Workshop as we viewed the activity together through WebEx.

To begin, was asked two questions related to Connecticut Family Orthopedics and then they will see 30 topics to begin sorting. They are asked to group the topics together in the most natural way to them. Then name the groups in a way that makes sense. Each session is recorded and the participant is asked to read and sign the agreement.

Participants will be directed to the welcome screen:

Welcome to the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website study
Welcome to this study for Connecticut Family Orthopedics, and thank you for agreeing to participate!

This activity shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes to complete. Your response will help us to organize the content on Connecticut Family Orthopedics. Find out how on the next page…

Participant questions

Before a planned office appointment, do you visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website?

  • Yes
  • No

How many times have you visited the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website this year?

  • More than once a week
  • Once a Month
  • Several Times a Year
  • Once a year or less

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Connecticut Family Orthopedics Card Sorting Data Analysis

Test dates 29 – 30 November 2019

This analysis was based on a remote activity study of 3 participants. The participants were asked to visit the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website before the study. Each participant was given 30 topic cards (pulled from the existing home page) and asked to place the cards in groups. This was conducted through Optimal Workshop and the resulting data was done using similarity matrix.

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The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. The card sorting allowed the participant to choose what they felt made sense when they were looking through the topics. Each participant grouped the topics in 5-6 categories verse the current site having 7 navigation tabs and 6 separate links at the top of the page. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Usability Inspection – Heuristic Evaluation

Heuristic evaluation is a key part of designing a great product that users can easily engage with and find value in their interaction. It is a thorough assessment of a product’s user interface, and its purpose is to detect usability issues that may occur when users interact with a product, and identify ways to resolve them. The heuristic evaluation process is conducted against a predetermined set of usability principles known as heuristics. The process relies on in-depth tests run by several usability experts at a time.

This heuristic evaluation on the Connecticut Family Orthopedics website was to review specific areas of the website. This evaluation helped to review what is a successful experience for the users. Each heuristic principle is graded on severity.

View Heuristic evaluation

Website Usability Testing Sessions

Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website is to use to better understand the users experience. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. This testing allows the researcher to observe users go through preset tasks to gather information about experience and length to complete. The information is then used to identify issues and recommend changes for a better overall experience.

Introduction

Three participants were asked to complete five standard website tasks and their experience was viewed using Webex. The usability testing was conducted on the current Connecticut Family Orthopedics website provide data and recommendations for a redesign. Before the usability testing started, they were given an introduction and background questions. Participants were also asked for verbal feedback during and after the meeting. Just before the session began, the participants were emailed the list of tasks and a consent form. A few initial questions were asked of each participant to get them comfortable before starting.

Participants

Participant 1

  • Female
  • Retired – Technology Director
  • 74 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 10-15 hours per week using the Internet
  • Types of sites usually browsed: travel, shopping
  • Favorite websites: CVS, WebMD, MSN

Participant 2

  • Male
  • Service Director
  • 39 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 10-15 hours per week using the Internet (not work related)
  • Types of sites usually browsed: Social, entertainment, shopping
  • Favorite websites: Facebook, Amazon

Participant 3

  • Female
  • Communications Director
  • 44 years old
  • College Graduate
  • Spends about 15-20 hours per week using the Internet (not work related)
  • Types of sites usually browsed: Social, news, shopping
  • Favorite websites: Facebook, Sephora, Amazon

Evaluation tasks

  1. You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.
  2. You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is opened today.
  3. For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. You need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download.
  4. You would like to request and appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.
  5. You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Analysis

Task 1: You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.

Results: Minor difficultly. All participants were looking for a tab in the navigation for location. Two participants went to contact us while the third went to the bottom of the page. The address is located on the bottom of the page and the contact us tab will bring you to a page that has the hours and phone number. This page is shorter in content so the bottom of the page is brought up for the user to see the location. All three participants commented that the location should be clearly marked on the contact us as well as possibly at the top of the page. One participant commented that a search function would help locate hard to find topics.

Task 2: You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is opened today.

Results: Moderate difficulty. The participants did not know that the urgent care was called OrthoPrompt. They were looking for either urgent care or walk in within the navigation. Once they started clicking around, out of frustration, they were able to figure out that the OrthoPrompt tab was for the urgent care. They were able to locate the hours easily once on the page. The comment was that this should be labeled as urgent care for people in emergency need.

Task 3: For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. First, you need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download. 

Results: Mild difficulty. The participants all went directly to the insurance and billing but hesitated with the dropdown as patient forms. They would look around before heading back to this election and clicking on the patient forms. Once on the page they located the form quickly. The comment was that there should be a billing dropdown for billing specific forms. The page that they were brought to had disclosures, patient forms as well as the authorization form for credit cards.

Task 4: You would like to request and appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.

Results: Easy. All three participates found this at the top of the page. There are two locations on the page to make an appointment, one at the top and the other is in the main navigation. They did question why it was located in two places.

Task 5: You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Results: Easy. All three participants found the social media links with ease. They are located on the bottom of page as seen in most websites. There were no additional comments on this task.

Issues found:

  • Difficulty finding office details
  • Content on pages is lengthy and relevant to current topic
  • Navigation is confusing do to organization, duplications and relevant category topics
  • Address is only located at the footer

Recommendations:

  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Create clean overall design
  • Responsive design
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation

Recommended navigation:

  • Stay connected
  • Patient Portal
  • Resources
  • Services
  • About us
  • Additionally, at the bottom links for:
    • Newsletter Sign up
    • Social Media links

Conclusion

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. Too much going on created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in smaller navigation with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

 

Usability Testing Session

Usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website is to use from a users’ perspective in order to better understand the users experience. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals. This testing allows the researcher to observe users preforming preset tasks to gather information about user experience and length of time to complete each task. The information is then used to identify issues and recommend changes for a better overall experience.

Why is Usability Important?

The goal of usability testing is to identify any usability problems, collect data on participants’ experience such as the time it took to complete the task as well as determine overall user satisfaction on the website. If a website is too difficult to navigate or does not articulate a clear purpose, users will become frustrated and leave the site. Testing websites is an important task in order to eliminate user frustration and quickly provide the user with the desired information.

Testing and Results

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website provides patient information about the practice to existing patients as well as potential patients. The current site offers access to the patient portal, request an appointment and information about the team. There are a lot of useful resources but the site needs updating for a better user experience.

Three participants were asked to complete five standard website tasks and their experience was viewed using WebEx. The usability testing was conducted by me on the current Connecticut Family Orthopedics website to provide data and recommendations for a redesign. Before the usability testing started, participants were given an introduction and background questions. Participants were also asked for verbal feedback during and after the meeting.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 1.43.53 PM

Methodology

The three participants were friends/family and their names are confidential. Each participant was given an overview and informed that their tasks within the website would be recorded. All three participants had never visited the site prior to this study.

The testing sessions were administered remotely. Through WebEx, each participant had access and control of the screen while they were being recorded. The website was accessed through Chrome. Just before the session began, the participants were emailed the list of tasks and a consent form. A few initial questions were asked of each participant to get them comfortable before starting.

During testing, participants were asked their thoughts about each task and how difficult or easy they found it. At the end, participants were asked to summarize their experience and how they thought it could have been improved.

Evaluation tasks

  1. You have an appointment with Dr. Gray this week. Locate the office address.
  2. You have just twisted your ankle and need emergency care. Locate the hours the walk in is open today.
  3. For this task, you want to set up a payment plan. You need to fill out a credit card authorization form. Locate this form for download.
  4. You would like to request an appointment. Locate the area to do this and fill out the contact form.
  5. You are very active on social media and are interested to see if there are any recommendations posted on their pages. Find the Facebook link.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 1.45.42 PM.png

Analysis

Task 1 results: Minor difficultly. All participants were looking for a tab in the navigation for location. Two participants went to the Contact Us tab while the third went to the bottom of the page. The address is located on the bottom of the page and the Contact Us tab will bring you to a page that has the hours and phone number. This page is shorter in content so the bottom of the page is brought up for the user to see the location. All three participants commented that the location should be clearly marked on the Contact Us as well as at the top of the page. One participant commented that a search function would help locate hard to find topics. 

Task 2 results: Moderate difficulty. The participants did not know that the urgent care was called OrthoPrompt. They were looking for either urgent care or walk in within the navigation. Once they started clicking around, out of frustration, they were able to figure out that the OrthoPrompt tab was for the urgent care. They were able to locate the hours easily once on the page. The comment was that this should be labeled as urgent care for people in emergency need.

Task 3 results: Mild difficulty. The participants all went directly to the insurance and billing tab but hesitated with the dropdown labeled patient forms. They would look around before heading back to this election and clicking on the patient forms. Once on the page they located the form quickly. The comment was that there should be a billing dropdown for billing specific forms. The page that they were brought to had disclosures, patient forms as well as the authorization form for credit cards.

Task 4 results: Easy. All three participants found this at the top of the page. There are two locations on the page to make an appointment, one at the top and the other is in the main navigation. They did question why it was located in two places.

Task 5 results: Easy. All three participants found the social media links with ease. They are located on the bottom of the page as seen in most websites. There were no additional comments on this task.

Conclusion

The Connecticut Family Orthopedics website has a lot of useful information for their patients on their site. However, the pages are very busy and unorganized. This created frustration for the participants. Pages need to be organized in shorter navigation paths with appropriate naming convention as seen in the card sorting exercise. The design needs to be cleaner and more consistent with a responsive design as well as a usable search function for the user.

The primary issue found was that the navigation was lengthy as well as several separate options were located at the top of the site. The participants found it overwhelming and confusing when looking for a particular topic. The lack of a search function also contributed to the frustration. Participants had similar suggestions for the categories although different views on topics beneath each category. Based on the results, Connecticut Family Orthopedics should consider consolidating the navigation and eliminating the separate links at the top. The separate links create confusion and overwhelm the user.

Issues found:

  • Difficulty finding office details
  • Content on pages is lengthy and not prioritized with relevant information on top
  • Navigation is confusing due to organization, duplications and relevant category topics
  • Address is only located at the footer

Recommendations:

  • Consolidate the navigation
  • Rename categories in navigation for ease of use
  • Create clean overall design
  • Use responsive design
  • Highlight 2-3 important information topics at top with remaining in condensed navigation

Recommended navigation:

  • Stay connected
  • Patient Portal
  • Resources
  • Services
  • About us
  • Additionally, at the bottom links for:
    • Newsletter Sign up
    • Social Media links

Always Be Testing

Websites need to be constantly evolving as user behavior can change depending on the age, experience and interest of the user. For a successful usability test you must first:

  • Decide what areas to concentrate on
  • Determine what tasks you want to test
  • Determine potential usability issues

Keep asking questions and looking for how to improve.

The RITE way

screen-shot-2019-11-24-at-9.34.21-am-e1574606104197.pngRITE stands Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation. The RITE Method is similar to a typical usability testing where participants are asked to complete tasks using think-aloud protocol. The big difference with this method is that rather than waiting for the end of the study to look at the findings and suggest improvements, the team iterates on the design as soon as issues are discovered by one or two participants. Designers are able to test and get feedback on new solutions and ideas quickly.

This method involves implementing changes as soon as a problem is identified and a solution is clear. That can mean within the day or a period of two hours. After each participant, time must be set aside to review results with decision-makers and decide if issues raised warrant changes for the next iteration of the prototype. In order to make changes quickly, the decision makers of the team need to be present.

Doing it RITE

The Nationwide UX team had been using the RITE method for a couple of years with a variety of financial services websites and applications. One project centered around pages on a 401(k) management site. As the project went into a new redesign phase, the UX team suggested RITE as an approach for quick results and feedback at an early stage. This would allow the team to continually make changes based on user feedback.

9-1-douglass_fig1

The prototype tested consisted of easily modifiable wireframes. They had two participant sessions per day for five days, with a three-day gap after the third day. This gave the team time between tests to make quick changes to the prototypes. With the RITE methodology, the project team was able to make several recommendations from the results of the testing. These recommendations were then applied as the project progressed.

Tips for Using the RITE Method

Here are some tips for getting started with the RITE method, according to UX Magazine.

  • Schedule 30 minutes after each session to discuss what people observed, form hypotheses about why users were confused or stuck on certain parts and come up with ideas for improvements.
  • Designate one person as the ultimate decision-maker on what changes should be implemented before the next participant.
  • Have someone on-site who is willing and able to make quick iterations.
  • Be willing to fail early and often. Making decisions quickly before the next participant can help in overcoming any lingering fears.

Conclusion

RITE works best for projects in the early concept phase. The findings can help the team to review and explore new ideas. The RITE method allows the team to examine alternatives quickly resulting in a better user experience more quickly than other traditional usability testing methods.

The RITE method involves team collaboration and often involves the client, who leaves with a better understanding of the process and the value of the work. It can be fun and rewarding when doing it the RITE way with a collaborative team.

 

Conducting an Empathy Interview

Empathy interviews are the foundation of design thinking. By understanding someone’s thoughts and motivations, you have a better understanding of the choices that person will make. By understanding their behavior, you can better identify their needs. This will help the development team create successful products or services for the user.

interview-clipart-research-interview-3An empathy interview uses a human-centered approach to understand the feelings and experiences of others. Empathy interviews gather insights that may not be apparent without conducting this kind of interview. These insights can then be used to help identify problems or needs to further aid in developing potential solutions.

To create a product or service that is successful with its target audience, it’s important to know the story of the user. Stories help you connect and empathize. They reveal the inner insights and feelings that the development team could only understand by having an interaction with the user. An empathy interview should feel less like an interview, and more like a conversation with a friend or coworker. The goal is to understand the users. The interview will help you comprehend the users’ thought processes, decision triggers, and emotions. These insights will further assist you in making informed decisions based on their behavior, rather than their satisfaction level, purchase frequency, or brand loyalty.

Understanding the user

The user wants to feel like they are being heard and valued. As the interviewer, you need to be an active listener and encourage storytelling. Storytelling allows the interviewer to dig deeper while preventing generic responses. It helps build the conversation as the user talks about experiences rather than opinions. For example, instead of saying “Do you like your car?” try saying “Tell me about the last time you drove your car.” This lets the user know you are interested in what they have to say while telling you their story.

Empathy interviews allow the users to speak about what is important to them. It will help focus on the emotional and subconscious aspect of the user to gain insights on how the user behaves in given situations. The interview may reveal solutions you might not have discovered or help you see needs or challenges you might have overlooked. The interview should make the user feel at ease so they speak from the heart with honest feedback. Additionally, this will also give the interviewer an opportunity to view body language which allows for spontaneous questions base on observations.

Preparing for an Empathy Interview 

To conduct an interview, you should prepare a script as a guide. During the interview, if something comes up that is not on the script, you can explore further beyond what you have prepared. A good opening script introduces a few key things quickly and succinctly:

  1. Yourself / Yourselves
  2. The date, location, and purpose of the workshop
  3. Why you’re the one performing this interview and what role people are playing
  4. The conditions of privacy and anonymity surrounding the event
  5. A request for their permission/comfort to continue the interview

The questions that you prepare beforehand should induce useful and thoughtful responses. You don’t want to ask yes or no questions as these will not give you insight as to why they feel this way. Your questions should be part of a conversation asking them to tell you more about how they feel and why they feel this way. Interviewers should be doing more than just listening and recording. They should be observing their users’ body language, tone and following up on responses that need further explanation.

If you get stuck, ask “why?” Asking why digs deeper into emotion and motivation. This will help you understand user behavior and identify needs.

  • “Why?”
  • “Why did you do/say/think that?”
  • “Really? And why was that?”
  • “Can you say more about that?”
  • “Tell me more.”
  • “And what were you feeling then?”

Three important things to remember as you think about your script:

  • Immerse: experience what users experience.
  • Observe: view users and their behaviors in the contexts of their lives.
  • Engage: interact with and interview users through schedules and “intercept” encounters.

Conclusion

Remember to be fully present and truly there. Have a way to record the interview so that you can focus all of your attention on what they are saying. Always ask “why?” Their answer may reveal aspects that you had not considered. This can lead to solutions you did not anticipate.

Empathy interviews are about having an authentic conversation with the user. This allows you to understand emotions, motivation and the choices the user makes. The findings will help you understand what their needs are and aide in your design to create a better user experience.

And always: Observe, engage, immerse.

 

Always be testing

There’s a joke in the marketing world that A/B testing actually stands for “Always Be Testing.” It’s a good way to remember that you can’t get the best results until you compare one strategy to another. A/B testing can help you visualize a strategy in order to obtain the best results. The importance of A/B testing is to understand the user behavior and how to use that behavior to drive traffic to a site. This will generate more leads and profitability. A/B tests can reveal weaknesses in your marketing strategy, but they can also show you what you’re doing right and confirm your hypotheses.

Without data, you won’t know how effective your marketing assets truly are. Using only a few small tweaks to a form or call-to-action may have a huge impact on the number of leads your company attracts.

Understanding A/B testing

An A/B test is a comparison between two versions of the same marketing asset, such as a web page or email, which you expose to equal halves of your audience. Based on conversion rates or other metrics, you can decide which one performs best. For example, you change the call to action on a landing page. You can A/B test variations of the CTA content by incorporating different verbs and adjectives, or changing the font style and size. An A/B test runs until you have enough data to make a solid decision.

If you’re testing the headline on a landing page, you might also want to test the subject line for your latest email. Changing just one variable at a time ensures that you know what had an impact on your audience’s responses.

Keep testing

You might want to test the same variable multiple times. As the audience evolves and the business grows, you’ll discover that you will have new needs to meet. It’s an ever-changing process that can result in a huge impact on your bottom line.

the-importance-of-ab-testing-3
Source: LinkedIn

Testing

Making aesthetic changes to your landing pages, emails or display ads can have a huge impact on conversions.

For email campaigns you can set up two variations of the campaign and send them to a small percentage of the subscribers. The success is measured by the open or click through rate. This determines the right campaign to send to the remaining subscribers.

  • Subject lines – Test two different subject lines against each other to increase your open rates.
  • CTA – Testing two calls-to-action will help you determine which version increases conversion rates.

On landing pages there are several areas that you can begin testing to see how they impact conversion. You can change around the layout, adjust the color or font and try different navigations to determine how users prefer to interact with your website. These last-minute edits can affect your conversation rate both negatively or positively. Testing is the only way to see the effect of these changes.

Additional edits to consider for testing:

  • Images – Images can have a huge impact on the way a user feels. Testing two completely different images can help you determine which image resonates with the audience.
  • Content – If the content is too lengthy, users may be overwhelmed before reaching the CTA. On the other hand, if the content is too short, the user may be left confused without the necessary information. Testing the length will help determine which will be more successful.

It is important to note that you don’t have to test everything – focus on what elements you think will make a difference. You may not receive the results you were hoping for and that is ok. Learn from the testing and try again with a new strategy.

What to measure

There are a few elements that you should be monitoring. After you deploy your A/B testing you will want to review the results. These metrics include:

  • Conversion rate: Most important metric in testing. Measure conversions per unique visit.
  • Time spent on page: Measuring the amount of time spent on a page will give insight into the user’s interest in the product.
  • Bounce rate: If you have a high bounce rate, you will need to review why.
  • Unique visitors: This shows you how many new people are visiting the page.

A/B testing is a crucial part of any marketing campaign. It will help ensure you run the best possible version to achieve the highest results.

Case studies

Example 1: Humana

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Humana created an A/B test on a banner with a simple headline and CTA as well as an image. After two rounds of A/B testing, they saw that they needed to adjust a couple of elements.

The initial banner had a lot of text while the second variation reduced the copy significantly. Additionally, the CTA changed from “Shop Medicare Plans” to “Get Started Now.” A couple other changes included the image and color scheme.

These small changes led to a 433 percent increase in CTR. After changing the CTA text, the company experienced an additional 192 percent boost.

Example 2: Highrise

Picture2.png
Highrise tested different headline and sub headline combinations to see if this affected the sign up. The testing showed that the variation that said the sign up was quick, produced a 30% increase in click through rates.

Example 3: Groove

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Groove spoke to their customers to find out what wording speaks to them as well as setting up a questionnaire to find out why they signed up. Using this feedback, they developed a landing page test changing up the content with their findings. The conversion rate with this test increased from 2.3% to 4.3%.

Conclusion

To increase conversion and ultimately sales, you need the data to make informed decisions on how to change the marketing. Using the results obtained from A/B testing, you know what elements within the campaign contribute to conversions.  You will have an understanding on what changes will positively affect the audience and affect conversion rates. And remember “Always be testing”.

 

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