By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Attractions should ensure that every aspect of their digital engagement works simply and intuitively in order to minimise drop out and maximise conversion rates.
One of the main recommendations I made in our recent DREAM day out report was that attractions should be constantly evaluating and refining the usability of their websites in order to maximise conversion opportunities. In truth it was difficult to find examples of effective ticket booking interfaces in all but a few of the 200 odd websites I looked at to compile the report, and there was little evidence of considered user-journey mapping, or UX design principles.
Jakob Nielsen a renowned usability guru has maintained for many years that 10% of any digital design project’s budget should be spent on usability. He contends that such expenditure will result in an average improvement in key performance indicators of 83% (see http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/). Of course this is for a new project, but having looked at so many attraction sites recently it strikes me that the vast majority could benefit significantly from improved usability.
I was struck yesterday by a massive promotion of the new ride at Alton Towers in the Sun newspaper. Around four pages of the red top was dedicated to an offer encouraging readers to collect tokens from the paper to secure a couple of free tickets to the Towers.
Now I am sure that such activity increases awareness and to an extent footfall in the real and virtual attraction worlds, but I am convinced that attractions, particularly Alton Towers, would benefit by forsaking one or two of their traditional marketing activities and using the money saved on increasing the effectiveness of their websites in order to ensure conversion and actual ticket purchases.
As Dan Baker, our Head of UX says in the report “A philosophy of measurement and continual improvement needs to be adopted which, if fully embraced, is guaranteed to deliver digital success”
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Recently I have been researching and writing a report looking into how attractions use digital to promote and enhance the visitor experience of their venues. The report’s central premise is that today, more than ever, digital communications and engagement plays a crucial role in not just recruiting visitors to an attraction, but also in ensuring that they have a satisfying and rewarding experience at it; one that they will want to talk about and share with their family, friends and peers.
To this end the report is framed around the DREAM model. The implication of which is that attractions need to look at their digital landscape holistically in order to complete the engagement cycle. The tricky parts of this are the stages at which the visitor actually attends and after they have left. However, in terms of word of mouth recommendation, and attracting the next tranche of visitors there is no stage more important, get this bit right and marketing efforts have the potential to be less scatter-gun and more targeted and personal.
With this in mind I was intrigued to see an article last week describing Disney’s new initiative aimed at making their visitors’ experience of their parks seamless and cash-free http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671616/a-1-billion-project-to-remake-the-disney-world-experience-using-rfid#1 The idea is that visitors have an RFID wristband, which allows them to eat, drink, buy souvenirs, and potentially interact with Disney characters hassle-free. Disney will be able to collect data on their visitors’ habits from the time they enter their parks to the time they leave. Monetisation of the experience must be front of mind for Disney, but so too must be the enhancement and improvement of the experience, identifying pain points and remedying them as best possible.
This is all fantastic of course, but other than visitors not having to get their wallet out, how does it enhance the visitor’s experience, and could it actually add to the apprehension of a family on a limited budget? There is of course an app that can be downloaded from the Disney site that helps visitors plan their day, see queue times etc, but a look at what it offers suggest that there is little attempt by Disney to include in the app tools to allow people to share their experiences as they happen, or to encourage visitors to interact with the ‘Disney community’ subsequently.
Maybe with a brand like Disney’s it is all about the experience, and ongoing user-generated marketing material and word of mouth recommendations come naturally due to the aspirational nature of their attractions. For the less well resourced there are any number of digital approaches that will help them close the circle and use their satisfied customers to generate real digital assets and goodwill contained in our report – The DREAM day out – Digitally enhancing and promoting the attraction experience. To find out more download a copy of our free report.
By Rob van Tol, Senior Consultant
Once upon a time an organisation could be reasonably clear what they were: if you provided pensions or raised money for kids or offered higher education courses, you could be reasonably certain you were a financial services company, charity or university.
You certainly didn’t think you were a publisher as well.
You could steal yourself for that one big important paper document you published each year: the brochure, the annual report, or prospectus. Perhaps with a clutch of flimsier short leaflets too and maybe a newsletter, run off the photocopier.
And then the web came along.
Now any significant organisation will have thousands, if not tens of thousands of web pages. Add to that hundreds or thousands of images and scores of podcasts and videos. Not to mention social media adding a further few thousand tweets and Facebook messages.
The maths rack up pretty quickly. Assume you have 10,000 with a modest 250 words per page, that’s 2.5 million words.
Few organisations have the resources to contain or control this deluge. In our experience, most organisations only have one, two, or at most a handful of people to look after their site. Most of these don’t come from either an editing or writing background. But these aren’t the people generating the bulk of the content.
The vast bulk of contributors are diligent office workers who only write for the web on an occasional, best endeavours basis, often as an aside from their day job. Naturally, they tackle the task in much the same way that they tackle their other writing tasks: by writing information as clearly as they can, just as they would in any other word processed document.
Now, there are worse content sins than writing information clearly (e.g. vanity content, internally-focused content, duplicated content, confused content, dead-end content, out-of-date content etc.).
As monsters go, a mass of clearly written information doesn’t sound that scary. Quantity, however, has a quality all of its own. As the number of web pages climbs past the few thousand, the ability of the web team to control it evaporates.
One morning you wake up and realise that the content has grown monstrous. Too big to audit; it would take too long, be too expensive. Too big to cut back down to size; it would take too many painful internal stakeholder battles resisting cuts to “their content” (it’s not theirs, it’s the users, but that’s another topic).
Your organisation doesn’t think of itself as a publisher, even though it has published 2.5 million words (equivalent to 25 novels), not to mention pictures, video, blogs and microblogs. So it is not going to give you the resources or budget to tackle it.
This is all a great shame. You come to us to design and build a beautiful new website, with elegant interactions, lovely designs, and clear and focused information architectures. Then you realise you don’t have the time or budget or political will to audit the old content. So the raging content monster duplicates into your new site because, however horrible it might be to migrate it all, it is a less horrible job than cutting it down to size.
Of course, it’s important not to despair. Just because you can’t easily slay the monster, doesn’t mean you can’t imprison it to the lower dungeons of the information architecture, or work hard at your content marketing to use your SEO and social media to point to the good stuff, or craft your most important user journeys, or make sure that your top – most popular – pages of your site are well controlled and well written.
Sure, you’ll know that there will be plenty of places you wish you could put up a “there be dragons” notice, but your site can still have a good heart and a beautiful face, and only a few brave souls need ever venture down to the depths of the content monster.
With many structural changes, mergers and service changes within the NHS, it can be a challenge to communicate these successfully to your audiences. However digital can be the perfect way to not only keep your audiences informed about these changes but also help them to embrace new ways of delivering services.
We’ve recently been working with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust to help them with their digital communications following their mergers. Together we’ve learnt some important lessons and would like to share some tips with you.
1. Make practical information easy to find
No matter how important a new brand, partnership, department or building is to your organisation, your service users’ priorities will still be access to information about practical services and care. Ensure they can quickly find this without having to figure out your internal restructuring to do so.
This practical approach can also be extended to GPs and referral information. This can be as simple as providing downloadable referral forms.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (shown below) do a great job of providing clear practical information aimed at different audiences.
2. Provide reassurance
With the news full of headlines about NHS cuts, bear in mind you are talking to a suspicious audience who now more than ever need reassurance they are getting top quality care. Show them how delivering familiar services in new ways, for example through integrated teams or at home can actually be a better experience for them. Consider using video to explain new services; having staff or even patients explain changes will help you instil trust in your users.
In this, the third of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, considers why content is indeed king.
As a content specialist, I often meet communications teams who are really scratching their heads about their content strategy. Why is it so hard to get new content up on our website in a timely fashion? Why do we struggle to agree on what we should publish in the first place? Essentially, it’s because we’re all more than a little bit self-centred when it comes to our websites.
I spent one (particularly painful) writing for the web training session banging my head against the desk as my client insisted that every page must begin within a brand positioning statement. I’m all for being distinctive, but if your customer is looking to find out about your services or simply looking for contact information, they really don’t care that you’re a ‘friendly group of professionals with a flexible approach and a reputation for results’. Your customers are driven online to seek out information or to complete a task and while messaging should guide and be reassuring, your content must put their needs first.
In this, the second of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, looks at the best way of learning from you users and their needs.
You know that Friday afternoon feeling, when the To do’ list has been completed (or moved to Monday) but there are still a couple of hours left in the day? Do you get the guilty temptation to nosey on Facebook, Twitter etc? Well go right ahead – in fact make this part of your weekly routine! When your boss asks what you are doing, it’s ‘Digital Ethnography’; the art of hanging out with your customers and prospects online.
Many professional service firms obsess about the design of their site without building any real understanding of their users. Firms expend disproportionate energy on their home page, ignoring the fact that only 25% of users who arrive at their site see this, whilst the rest deep-link to content direct from search. In fact, a user may be making decisions about whether to hire you or your competitor without ever reaching your website.
So how do you better acquaint yourself with your users? Monitor the ‘buzz’; at its simplest this means visiting key forums and social communities regularly and seeing what’s being talked about. Ideally, it means structured review. Free tools such as Social Mention, Social Seek , Boardreader and Klout allow you to monitor keywords across a wide range of social networks and measure your current influence, or deploy one of the heavy hitting enterprise tools such as Sentimetrics or Radian6.