Alternative Keyboards for iOS

Around the office, we’ve been experimenting with alternative keyboards inside iOS (something Android users have been able to do for years). Our current favorite? The just-released Gboard, which makes it easy to type by “swiping,” and also allows you to directly access Google Search from any text entry field. For all of those who are as reliant on Google as we are, the tool makes multitasking much easier and eliminates the need to jump back and forth between applications.

We also rely on animated GIFs for self-expression (sometimes exclusively), which makes the Giphy keyboard, Giphy Keys, an interesting tool as well.

Simpsons GIF Re Technology

We think these custom keyboards are interesting tools and distribution channels for a few key players like search engines and media companies. But does your service need to create one? Probably not.

Make Sure that Your Application Meets Accessibility Guidelines

There are 60 million people with disabilities in the United States, so making sure they can all use your website easily isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also good business.

Virtually all businesses can be sued if their website or application does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How well does your site do? Try this validator to find out some basics.

For a good overview of guidelines and resources, see this brief presentation that one of our team members recently put together here.

As a basis, just remember the simple acronym “POUR“:

Perceivable

  • Provide text  alternatives for images, form elements
  • User good color contrast to make it easier for users to see content
  • Avoid nose, movement, and distractions on pages

Operable

  • All functionality should be accessible via keyboard (tabbing, opening links without the mouse, etc.)
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are in the system / application

Understandable

  • Use economical and plain use of language
  • Make pages operate in predictable ways
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes

Robust

  • Ensure that your application is functional across various technologies
  • Verify that syntax is correct – syntax errors may not affect visual presentation but may hamper assistive technology and accessibility valuation tools

1-800-PetMeds Launches Redesigned Website

Congratulations to our client, 1-800-PetMeds, who recently launched their redesigned website 1800PetMeds.com!

Early last year, the company asked Iteration Group to completely redesign and modernize their current e-commerce website (for desktop and mobile). The site is a leading online retailer of pet-related products and is responsible for the vast majority of the company’s revenue.  The project was led by Iteration Group UX Strategy expert, Jaime Levy, who carefully laid out and tested the new designs with the aim of improving important performance metrics.

1-800-PetMeds Director of Marketing, Alex Irvin stated that “The fresh, functional new responsive design was developed with ease-of-use for the customer as our top priority. […] Our customers will find great improvement in our navigation and check-out process, as well as a fresh presentation of all of our educational articles. ”

You can read the full press release here.

Know What Users are Thinking and Doing on Your Site or App

Many of you are familiar with UserTesting.com – a service that takes the pain out of recruiting users and allows you to see how users interact with your site or application.

At Iteration Group, we think UserTesting.com can be useful if you do a lot of homework upfront. Specifically, you need to understand precisely what you want to learn, set recruiting criteria very closely, and take qualitative opinions with a BIG grain of salt.

Working with UserTesting.com can be great for quick feedback, but it’s no substitute for thoughtful, in-depth, contextual inquiry sessions run by trained UX researchers.

For those who do need quick, general feedback, though, we recommend checking out Peek, a new service from UserTesting, that’s free.

Just type in the URL or application that you would like to get tested, and within 24 hours you will receive a short 2 to 5 minute video of someone using your site or app.

Clareity Security Releases New SSO Dashboard that has Customers Raving

Congratulations to our client, Clareity Security, who recently launched their new Single Sign-On Dashboard! Version 3.0 was released in October, and the feedback has been very positive with users raving that the new design is sleek, modern, mobile responsive and easy to navigate.

In their press release, Clareity states that:

With Iteration Group’s design expertise and Clareity’s knowledge of the real estate industry, the two teams collaborated to create the “dream dashboard” for agents, brokers and other real estate professionals.

Yossi Langer Presents “How to Uncover Your Next Million-Dollar Idea”

Iteration Group Principal and expert on product strategy and user experience design, Yossi Langer, was invited to speak at the 2015 ASI Power Summit this November in Dana Point, California where he presented “How to Uncover Your Next Million-Dollar Idea.”

The ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) Power Summit is an exclusive conference for influential business leaders and decision makers within the promotional products industry (a $20.5 billion dollar market here in the U.S.).

Following his presentation, Yossi led a workshop where executives and staff members from leading companies within the industry discussed how to create great ideas from scratch.

Special shoutout to the ASI Summit team who put together this fantastic event and allowed us to be a part of it.

Creating Products that are (Measurably) Great

We usually recommend a User Experience design process that involves ongoing user testing. We very much believe that we ought to involve users in the design process every step of the way.

Our aim is to prove that we’re designing a great interface by objectively measuring its performance. Not just “wow, the app looks great,” but actual user performance data (fewer clicks, fewer seconds required to complete a task, etc.) that indicates, objectively, that we’re moving in the right direction – that we have significantly improved the user experience for customers.

A Note About Initial UX Thoughts and Observations

Sometimes we are asked by clients to provide some initial thoughts, observations, and feedback regarding the user experience of their existing web site, web application, or mobile app.

Path of Least Resistance

Users have figured out a shortcut from one building to another – right through the plants! If it were time to re-do the landscaping, would you put up a sign (No Walking Here!) or install a set of stairs? Source: BadDesigns.com

In the spirit of imparting a sense of how we think and how we work, we’re happy to do so.  But, we always caveat our comments by saying that normally, we would first want to spend some time:

  • With you, the client, better understanding the situation, what users have told you about what they like and don’t like, what you think is working / not working, what is the business trying to accomplish, etc.
  • With users, listening to what they have to say about the application, what they like, what they dislike, how it fits into their life, how they think it can be improved, etc.
  • Looking at competing / similar / adjacent applications. What can we learn from the similar products that have been designed, built, released, and refined many times over many years? What do we think about them? What do these products tell us about what we want and what we don’t want? What do users tell us about these products? How do these similar products actually perform when presented to users?

While we are user experience design professionals who can apply web and mobile design best practices and also have strong intuitions (due to our experience designing dozens of products over the years) around how to improve usability, we believe that domain expertise (e.g. knowing the business inside-and-out) and listening carefully to users is critical to designing a great tool to make the user’s life easier.

 

Creating Landing Pages That Work: Auto Insurance

How do you create landing pages that work?  Pages that ensnare users into your process of filling out a form, getting more information, getting a quote, etc.?

We believe that the auto insurance industry, in particular, offers many useful examples around how to create high-performing and persuasive website landing pages.

Let’s take a look.

If you go to Google and search for “get car insurance,” you’ll see something like this:

Google Results for Get Car Insurance Search

 

Notice that most of the screen is covered in advertisements:

Google Results for Get Car Insurance Search Showing Ads

 

In fact, 10 of the results are advertisements, and only 4 are “organic” (e.g. not directly paid for) results.  And this is just online!

Here in the US, we are constantly bombarded (online, on television, in print, via direct mail) with advertisements from Allstate, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive, and other leaders in the auto insurance industry.

One would have to assume that:

  • They’re spending incredible amounts of money advertising their products.
  • The space is massively competitive. We learned, anecdotally, that some auto insurance companies are paying up to $150 USD per click for Google Adwords online advertising, for example (that’s just for a raw lead – not a person that has converted to being a customer!).
  • They’ve worked very hard to optimize their landing pages and their funnels (e.g. convincing and ensnaring folks to “get a quote”) to maximize conversion rates.

Now, back to those Google Search results.  When you click on one of those ads, you’ll see a page that looks like this:

Geico Landing Page for Web

 

Or this:

Allstate Landing Page for Web

 

Or this:

Progressive Landing Page for Web

 

Or, if you’re on mobile, something like this:

Geico Landing Page for Mobile

 

We believe that there’s a lot to learn here:

  • How to create a persuasive and effective landing page, using typography, photographs, social proof, and other mechanisms to elicit a certain response and encourage certain behavior.
  • How to get folks started in the process.
  • How to easily enable folks to resume from where they left off (if they do indeed leave).
  • How not to distract folks with other content and information that might unintentionally encourage them to fall out of the funnel.
  • How to ask questions in a way that is not overwhelming or intimidating (e.g. perhaps in an iterative, one-step-at-a-time fashion).

 

UX Designer

Looking for a UX Designer?

Iteration Group is a “boutique” firm that works with a small number of clients, helping them with expert UI / UX Design and App Development for web and mobile.

We work closely with large consumer and enterprise brands to help them nail their product vision, distill their rough product ideas into concrete product designs, create wireframes, create final designs, build prototypes, build-out their products, and more.

Our clients are in Financial Services, E-commerce, Healthcare, Education, Ad Tech, Loyalty, Food Service, Entertainment, and other industries.