New Director of Quantitative Research Leads Competitive Initiatives

KLI couldn’t be happier to welcome Dana Bishop to our team as our new Director of Quantitative Research. Dana has been working in the field of user research for 20 years and flaunts extensive experience with a variety of research methods. Above all, Dana has perfected the art and science of creating simple, yet highly-informative large-scale online user experience research studies. Her graceful orchestration of traditional scaled questions and directed tasks for users results in detailed feedback, thoughtful analysis and poignant evidence that informs design for clients far and wide.
Prior to joining Key Lime Interactive, Dana was lead researcher and manager of Keynote Systems’ Competitive Research group. While at Keynote, Dana led longitudinal quantitative research studies across numerous verticals and global markets for companies such as Carnival, Expedia, Travelocity, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Yahoo!, and State Farm Insurance. Dana began her career in the 1990s in San Francisco where she spent 3 years at Charles Schwab & Co conducting a nationwide field study and weekly in-lab sessions with customers; as well as time spent running usability testing for edu-tainment software in school environments.
After just three short months as part of the KLI team, Dana’s expertise is in high-demand! Custom studies are exceeding client expectations and all the while, Dana and other Key Limers are preparing the following types of reports for incremental release:
KLI Competitive Research. Naturally, with the addition of Dana to the Key Lime team, we’ve both expanded and refined our competitive research. Dana is spearheading several existing and new reports that fall under the following categories:
Competitive Index:
Currently our Auto Insurance Competitive Index and our Mobile Banking Competitive Index are widely used by nearly all top players in their respective industries. For this research KLI runs a survey to deeply understand the perceptions, beliefs, needs and desires of users when using their mobile devices (both web and apps) in context of a given industry and then indexes and compares capabilities across major players; ultimately ranking them and revealing strengths and opportunities for the industry and individual companies to move ahead. Inquire about the purchase of either of these reports, or suggest an index for your industry…
Competitive Benchmark Studies
Additionally, KLI publishes annual Cruise Competitive Benchmark results in June each year. This is a task-based assessment of the leading cruise industry websites by users (a mix of first-time and experienced users). The study analyzes the user experience in trying to learn about the cruise line, find a cruise of interest, and book online. It measures the user experience in terms of satisfaction, site reliability and performance, as well as NPS and likelihood to return and purchase. Dana’s keen understanding of what the cruise industry needs and pays attention to when executing sound design changes is part of what makes this benchmark study novel and desired. The study capitalizes on the value proposition offered by the various brands: Are they selling the ratio of cost to experience well to their digital consumers? Are they painting a clear picture that informs decisions and promotes action? At present, leaders in the industry are working with Dana to refine the June release to include exactly what they’ve been missing. Want to be involved in that conversation? Have ideas for a similar study in a different vertical? Learn more…
Custom Competitive Benchmark Studies
To take this one-step farther and truly meet the demands of KLI clients, Dana is leading the development of Custom Competitive Benchmark studies for several clients in the retail, travel, medical and financial industries. These studies are quite similar to the general Competitive Benchmark studies in that they are also task-based assessments of sites within a given industry by users. They also focus on which site(s) are providing the best user experience; but differ in that they allow companies to custom design aspects of the study along with KLI researchers. Companies can “ customize” by selecting the competitors they are most interested in benchmarking themselves against, as well as having input about the tasks users complete, and timing of when the study fields. Need to benchmark yourself against competitors in your industry? Learn more…

HTML5 or Native OS: Which is Right for Your Business?

by Phil McGuinness
A hot topic right now in mobile user experience is the debate between providing an HTML5 web app versus a more traditional Native OS app. Simply put, HTML5 is a method of programming a mobile website to behave like an app (think which can be accessed through any modern tablet or smartphone browser. Conversely, apps written for a Native OS are  developed to run directly on Android or iOS smartphones (they are designed for each native platform), and must be downloaded through the GooglePlay Store or Apple App Store. Both approaches are a great way to provide web content to smartphone and tablet users, and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Which of these approaches is right for your business? At Key Lime Interactive, we are exploring this question in depth, and have key information to help you make the right decision.
From a development standpoint, HTML5 is the clear winner in both cost and flexibility. If your business has a website, it’s a given that you already have programmers on hand who can write HTML5 code.  In addition, your programmers will only have to program the basic code once.  Of course, during QA testing some minor edits will need to be made in order to support different browsers and browser versions in the marketplace such as Chrome, Safari, Explorer and more. It’s also important to note that since your code lives on the web rather than on a user’s device, you can make changes on the fly without having to roll out a new application update via an App Store update every time you make a change.
If you decide to make a Native OS app, you will need to hire  a team  who know the specific language for each operating system, or a jack-of-all-trades programmer who knows all of the relevant languages. These programming skills are much less common, and therefore, can be more expensive, than HTML5-only developers.  In order to provide a robust and compelling experience for each OS, you’ll need someone who understands the nuances of each platform. This requires a developer who can write for each operating system, and that’s no small task. If you decide to go the path of a a Native OS app then you’re developing for both Android and iOS and that means you’re now doubling every step of the cycle, including programming, testing/QA, and maintaining the code. When it comes time to update your apps, you’ll also need to release an update two versions via the GooglePlay Store or the Apple App Store.Publishing via either store requires approval before your app can be made available for download.
So why use the Native OS app approach at all you might ask? It sounds expensive AND time consuming. We would submit that developing for a Native OS platform is the right choice.  This approach excels at something that we at KLI hold near and dear to our hearts: you guessed it, user experience! Currently, an HTML5 mobile site compete to a Native OS app in look, feel, functionality, and overall speed. Of course, Android and iOS platforms have quirks which make for a unique user experience on each device but the robust and rich UX is worth the price of admission. See our previous article for a detailed discussion about  how Android users can be alienated by seemingly insignificant design choices. When building an HTML5 web app to be standardized across all devices, you lose the custom feel ofa Native OS app.
The functionality advantage for Native OS apps comes partially from a better support system – not only from Apple and Google – but from the online community of app programmers – and also from the apps being installed directly on the device.  This allows easy access to smartphone features such as the camera, calendar, or contacts. HTML5 web apps are starting to add these functionalities as programmers begin to develop clever new approaches, but equivalency is a long way off at this point in time. Finally, it is well known throughout the industry that the HTML5 web apps react significantly slower than Native OS apps in both UI and load speed. These factors combine to create a smoother, faster, and more intuitive user experience for a Native OS app.
The other main areas differences  between these two approaches relate to  security, monetization, and accessibility, which will vary in importance can be depending on what you want from your app. Native OS apps have better security since the code and URL strings are not accessible like they are in an HTML5 web app. If you happen to want your app to be accessible online, you’ll need to stick with Native OS.  To rely on an existing app store for monetization, you’ll need to either build a Native OS app, or use a program like PhoneGap to “wrap” your HTML5 web app to make it appear as an app in the app store that users can download, although it only behaves as a link to the web app itself.  Of course, selling your app through an app store means giving away a cut of the profit to the owner of that store/ HTML5 web apps allows you to create your own monetization strategy and avoid the App Store fees.
In conclusion, it takes careful consideration of your business, and knowledge of each approach to make the right decision for you. Do you need a less expensive, low-frills, dynamic experience? If so, an HTML5 web app would be the best approach for you. However, if your major concerns are usability, performance, and security, and you have a little room in your development budget, then a  Native OS approach is the way to go.  In our opinion, until HTML5 can catch up to the user experience provided by Native OS apps, enterprise companies will almost always want to represent themselves with Native OS apps for the enhanced usability and unparaelleled user experience. In the coming months, Key Lime Interactive will be conducting a study to measure the current user experience of HTML5 web apps, so stay tuned for more detailed information in a future newsletter.


Mobile Words of Wisdom

Last month we attended the Mobile Marketing Summit in NYC. Speakers included folks from GE Healthcare, Citibank, InterContinental Hotels, Gilt Groupe and others. We walked away with new insight on how companies are shaping and preparing their mobile solutions.
It’s important for our research team to consider the business stakeholder perspective as we offer opportunities to improve tested solutions. We’ve highlighted a few points from the summit that the team is keeping in mind along with key concepts for moving solutions to the next level.
Mobile Words of Wisdom:

  • Time Spent” has historically been a KPI of engagement with a product.  In mobile, this is not exactly the best metric.  You’re really looking to create excellent experience in 1-2 minutes, even 30 seconds.  We want users to spend their “snack size” or “snackable” found time to use our product and go on their way.
    – Sol Masch, Director of Mobile Sales & Strategy, Time Inc.

“Thirty second snacks.”  Nice summation, we agree.

  • 73% of Shoppers prefer their phone over a real live sales associate.
    – Martin Lange, Executive Marketing Director of Digital Strategy and Global Head of Mobile at Ogilvy & Mather

SEVENTY-THREE PERCENT!  We believe it.  In fact, we’ve confirmed this estimate in our research.

  • B2B Mobile Engagement has so many creative outlets these days and General Electric is capitalizing on this with Instagram and even better with Vine and their #6secondscience and #gravityday campaigns.
    – Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing at GE

The #gravityday vine can be seen here: Gravity Day in action. We love this.

  • The Holiday season is proven to be the most expensive season to win a LOYAL user.   Folks are willing to try out new apps during the holiday season, but those engagements are shorter.  Historical data shows that device releases create a better opportunity to acquire mobile app users.  “October may be a good month for you.”
    – Christian Galvin, US Director of Mobile Apps at Fiksu
  • “Wouldn’t we all LOVE to deliver an experience that grosses the whole digital ecosystem!?”  Example: You begin a transaction on your mobile phone as you wait for the subway, something distracts you and you don’t complete it, but later when you login on your iPad at home the status of that transaction is exactly where you left it.
    – Melissa Stevens, Head of Internet and Mobile, Citi Consumer Banking

Melissa isn’t alone.  This concept can be applied to retail, entertainment, recipe searches, etc.
Have anything to add?  What else can we consider important notes, goals or concepts to keep in mind as we move forward in the development and improvement of mobile interfaces?  Share your thoughts with your team.  We’d love to hear.

Many Shades of Grey: Responsive Design vs. Adaptive Layout

Once upon a time…
In the first century of the 3rd millennium (aka the 21st century) the world was full of websites designed and developed with high-speed internet access in mind.  Then one day, mobile feature phones were introduced: Palm, Inc. (remember them?), Kyocera 6035 and the HP iPaq h6315 look. Today they look like something from the dark ages! It wasn’t until 2009 that a few companies started noting mobile phone usage rising and started to develop their own mobile initiatives. At that time, data networks had far slower speeds.   Designers were faced with a problem:  they needed to allow the small screen carrying “on-the-go” user access to their content without frustration.
The solution:  Native apps and m.sites were born.   Brilliant.  Limited function to be viewed in this mobile context.  It made complete sense.  Traditional websites and mobile solutions lived independently and happily One of our clients said then “all we want is a mobile site that looks like our contemporary [then mid-90s!] website.”.
But, then one day the K48 (the iPad) and other tablets joined the list of available offerings for both home and on-the-go users.  Android and more recently Win8 tablets followed suit and here we are on the edge of a holiday season where the tablet is the number one gift. The tablets that were introduced had screen sizes that weren’t quite as large as a super-sized widescreen monitor and weren’t quite as tiny as a smartphone.  Designers stopped in their tracks and considered a new challenge:  Do we continue to design a solution for every form factor that emerges or is it possible to try to find a way to make our websites accessible AND user friendly across all form factors?
Ethan Marcotte, a thought-leader for the design industry published a concept and coined the phrase “responsive web design” (RWD) as a viable solution.  His solution was not simply a response to varying display sizes, browsers, speeds (also known as “adaptive web layout”), it was a response by using a particular approach involving three critical components:  fluid grids, flexible images and media queries.
For companies ready to start from the very beginning and make their content available across all devices, Marcotte’s RWD approach made perfect sense.  They could follow his steps to build a somewhat one-size-fits-most solution.
However the companies who had already spent a great deal of time and energy creating those separate independent solutions scratched their heads – do we start from the very beginning and develop a truly responsive web design OR do we work to use what we’ve developed to date and create an adaptive web layout?   The debate began and designers began to grapple with the advantages and disadvantages, they presented them to business stakeholders and business goals and budgets became part of the decision making process.
Eventually, the conversation got louder and more complex.  We started to be brought in as consumer insight and usability experts to advise on the best way to make the end users happy.
Key Lime Interactive’s considerations.
So what advice do we give?  In short, we agree with some of the others that there is no one-sized fits all solution.  Every project has to be evaluated individually and the most effective techniques need to be applied accordingly.  We can see the strengths of adaptive design for established groups and responsive design for folks starting fresh, who have the resources and budget.
Most importantly, from a user perspective:  It doesn’t always matter!  Jeffrey Zeldman proposed in mid-2011 that the design community should broaden the term “responsive design” “to cover any approach that delivers elegant visual experiences regardless of the size of the user’s display and the limitations or capabilities of the device.”    The key phrase: “elegant visual experience” resonates with us as we advise our clients.
A quick quiz:
If you’re in a position to determine which direction your company should go, start by taking this short quiz as you begin the conversation.  Keep your score!
1) My Current Properties:
a) I already have both a traditional and mobile site and satisfaction metrics are high for each
b) I’m starting fresh/early stages because I have no properties in place at present and/or I’m looking for something new or my satisfaction metrics are low.
2) My Support:
a) I have the capacity to hire out or to self-maintain a few different website versions.
b) I have the expertise in house (or the funds to hire out) to utilize the necessary toolkits (fluid grids, flexible images, media queries) and I prefer to maintain one site once it’s been built.
3) KEY QUESTION – The Context:
a) My user’s experience through mobile or tablets should be different than the experience they encounter via the traditional web because the context of mobile use demands different features and/or I need for my users to have a really amazing desktop experience that cannot be reduced by the least common denominators.
b) Reformatting our traditional site to fit the mobile web or tablets will work quite nicely for my offering.  I understand when I resize to fit all, compromises are occasionally made, and this is ok!
If you answered mostly “a’s” you’re leaning toward Adaptive Layout Design
If you answered mostly “b’s” you’re leaning toward Responsive Web Design
As a consumer and user research consultancy, we weigh question 3 far more heavily than the others – so ultimately, the direction that you choose for question 3 should be the direction that you investigate most.

E-Retailers Pin Their Attention on Pinterest

As we’ve all discovered by now, Pinterest is the hottest new social sharing site boasting an enormous following as its popularity has increased exponentially in recent months. Exceeding 10 million unique visitors each month, Pinterest will likely take center stage as the future of e-commerce social media marketing efforts plays out.
After some observation and discussion with pinners of all ages, we credit its growth to a few specific things:

Visual Appeal – A strong visual network is created by pinning dream houses, bucket lists, outfits, inspirational images, quotations, the results of yummy recipes, and more.  Pinterest has the visual appeal of a gigantic coffee table book – it’s easy to get caught up in the images contained and spend unexpected amounts of time engaged in this network.
Ease of Use – Pinterest lists some obvious categories such as “Food & Drink”, “My Life” and “Travel” and naturally, without instruction, educates users to participate in pinning and repining activities with simple icons.  We “pin” something and it magically appears in both our stream and relevant “board” and becomes part of our collection. We can easily search for items or concepts of interest.  We can browse the collections of those who inspire us.  The architecture is easy.
Acknowledgement/Link to Source Library – Since Pinterest preserves the link where the item originated and acknowledgement we have a library of where to buy or find the items we pin. Organized for us, but GOLD for e-retailers! What can be easier than user-generated links back to your site that are shared via social media and trend passively?
This combination of success points creates an ideal platform for retailers to generate attention and entice followers and fans.
Why is KLI taking note?
As our e-retail clients seek our suggestions for the improvement of their web and mobile experiences, we can look to the success of Pinterest for inspiration and as a tool; both serve us food for thought as they aim to stay current, or ahead, and find ways to increase conversion.
Specifically, our pinboard of noteworthy thoughts around Pinterest includes:

  • Organization Considerations: Pinboards are an obvious way for companies to take advantage of this social phenomenon.  These pinboards can take one of two paths – retailers can opt to use pinboards to mimic the categories presented on their site, or instead they can utilize a new information architecture that might bundle products together to cross-sell.  We’ve seen success in the later as consumers seek an alternative to traditional catalog shopping and respond more favorably to immersive visual storytelling that outlines how the products can fit their current lifestyle or the one they daydream about.  Perhaps these categories could also be used for things like targeting a specific audience, maybe a bride, or identifying seasonal sale items, etc.  Thinking beyond standard categorical organization is an area in which we’ve witnessed success.
  • Rich, Bold and Creative Imagery & Visualizations: We’ve seen the images that trend on Pinterest.  They stray from the typical woman wearing a summer dress with a white background and instead show the detail of the neckline up close, or the woman giggling her way through an enchanted forest.  Creative images, interesting perspectives, etc. first enrich your retail site, but also have the capacity to trend farther and wider on social media sites like Pinterest.  KLI research has concluded that consumers respond to images that impress them or mirror themselves above all.  Use the success of Pinterest as incentive to enhance your e-commerce imagery.
  • “Pin-It”:  Add the pin-it button near your other social media icons.  Now that people can link their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, we’re seeing a trend in using Pinterest as a method of choice to announce to their community that they dig a particular product because they can comment, classify and tag it all from the Pinterest interface.  E-retailers benefit because the original URL pins with the image, and to all the social networks linked.  A single pin creates a ripple, or if your pinner is wildly socially connected, a wave – and it’s free for you.The added bonus: In a way, Pinterest behaves as a shopping cart.  The pinner identifies to themselves that they have an interest in this product and rather than having to email it to themselves, bookmark it or simply remember it, they can see it and can revisit it easily when they review their carefully created boards.

  • Pay Attention: Overall, the best you can do is jump into this latest form of social webbing with two feet.  Maybe you don’t “get it” or your stakeholders have some hesitation about “all this social media stuff” – but when KLI researchers recommend a Pin-It icon in a specific (often eyetracking supported) location on your site, there’s no time to wait and see if it’s going to pay off.  TAMBA, a UK based group of smarty pants digital strategists reported that Pinterest is projected to account for 40% of all social media driven purchases by the end of this quarter… that’s an amazingly quick catch up to Facebook. Further, buyers are 10% more likely to buy something and spend 10% more money if they’ve reached a product via a pin vs. alternative pathways in social media.

Pinterest is Here to Stay
Our current clients in the retail space agree that if they’re not already integrating Pinterest in their roadmap for future work, they’ve got some catching up to do because the return on investment is predicted to be fantastic.

Industry Study: Today’s Retail Customers Report Their Needs and Expectations of a Mobile Shopping Experience

Key Lime Interactive conducted a study aimed at understanding mobile shopping behavior. The results reveal key features users require, at-home and in-store mobile shopping behavior, and more.
In today’s consumer landscape we see retailers expanding and spending time to enhance their mobile offering in an effort to increase conversion on their mCommerce sites and apps.  Often times, as they aim to keep up with the rapid pace of mobile growth, retailers fail to align their business objectives with their target end-user’s mindset, behaviors and preferences.   To mitigate this problem Key Lime Interactive (KLI), a leader in mobile consumer experience testing and design, conducts frequent surveys to understand usage, trends, expectations, needs and preferences of retail consumers so that they may offer their clients current and relevant actionable recommendations for innovative, consumer-driven interfaces.
Mobile Retail Study
Last month, in KLI’s most recent mobile study, three hundred mobile retail consumers were surveyed.  The results revealed a prioritized list of consumer preferences and validated the assumptions that many of us would make:  the most important features for a successful mobile shopping experience included the ability to seek out pricing information, quality product images and specifications and to arrive at such information via a streamlined search tool.  Additionally, users reported that they can’t live without an easy way to “find deals” offered by a given retailer – this serves as food for thought as said retailers consider the importance of a clearance section or discount offer placement on their mobile interface.
Surprising to some retailers, though, was the discovery that the ability to purchase a product ranked as a second tier need in the survey.  “This validates a trend we’ve observed, particularly among consumers shopping the mobile optimized site offered by a brick and mortar retailer” says Eugene Santiago, Director of Research at KLI “77% of consumers report that they are likely to browse products on a mobile site to purchase in-store at a later time.  Further, 79% of consumers use the m-site to compare rival store’s prices while they’re in store executing a purchasing decision.”
The report also stated that “many mobile sites still leave customers with unanswered questions” and product comparison tools are among the three things consumers would change if they were responsible for the m-site design.
“Information, such as usage information and preferences helps us shape our expert recommendations as we assist with mobile site strategic development.  For example, knowing that most consumers are using their mobile tools to learn as much as they can about products, and less to purchase them, helps us validate prioritizing focus on building strong product interfaces ahead of refining a checkout process for a given client.” says Ania Rodriguez, CEO of KLI  “Similarly, if we find that product comparison tools are the missing piece to the puzzle, we can encourage this feature and resurvey to demonstrate the increase in consumer sentiment – combine that with sales statistics through the mobile channel and we identify the source of an increase in conversion .”
Additional Report Information
These results, along with additional details, were presented in a webinar by KLI on January 25th.  Participants learned answers to questions such as Do we know which features are a catalyst for the transition from mobile browsing to mobile shopping?  Do we have a list of recommendations from the mouths of our consumers to enhance our mobile offering?  and more.  The entire webinar/results are available free of charge.
Slide Deck from Webinar
Full Webinar with Audio
For additional information, or to conduct a similar study or evaluation on your website, contact