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 George Evans, Head of Melbourne office
Cities such as New York and Palo Alto have begun to strategise their development by considering the merging of the physical and the digital, also called ‘phygital’ if you like a trendy portmanteau.
The City of Melbourne has also taken on this approach. The City seeks to explore how digital technology can help keep Melbourne one of the greatest places to be today — at work, at play and at home. Have a look yourself!
Some of the Precedent team including myself were invited to kick this off with an event last month: CoMConnect. We quickly realised this event developed into a collaborative forum. All partaking groups united to help figure out ways digital technology can improve Melbourne at work, play and home.
In other words, CoMConnect was an open discussion between the City and certain key audiences: community leaders, thinkers, designers, technologists, researchers, urbanists and makers. This format is known as ‘unconference’, meaning a loosely structured conference emphasising the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants. It was great fun and I highly recommend the format for anyone interested in trying out variations on the ‘open space’ method.
I facilitated a discussion on the topic “UX, Community engagement, and experience mapping”. The discussion suggested methods the city could use to engage with their audiences, both digitally and in analogue forms, as ways of understanding the publics’ needs. I put forward recommendations such as more unconference style events, whiteboards in city squares, using existing communication channels. Another key for a better understanding of who the cities audiences are is to create personas. Like every story, you need characters; and characters, or personas, allow personalisation and prioritisation of short and long term actions.
Participants’ ideas were shared, recorded and developed over the event, and eventually made out for three separate themes:
- Theme 1 — Long-term projects: changing policy & infrastructure to be able to respond better to technological advancements, such as opening up the huge amounts of data sets a city possesses
- Theme 2 — Short-term projects: quick win projects and conversations which the council can pick up and move forward with
- Theme 3 — Tools: localised search, leveraging NBN, ethnography, gamification and crowd sourcing
Crucial to the success of this great venture is to combine the three themes. This will make open data and progressive policy allowing groups to collaborate and use tools to improve the lifestyle of Melbournians.
Over the last few weeks I’m keen to see how the city is moving forward, tackling the following goals:
Identify and prioritise the long and short term themes
Support short-term projects
Work towards long-term goals
Continue to engage, and with a wider audience
In short, I think the answer is to think big, start small and act quick.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
For reasons that will become apparent I found myself today looking for the origins of the phrase that forms the title of this blog. As is often the case I was distracted by an apparently unrelated news article, this time on the Boy Genius Report (BGR) website.
The item concerned the unveiling of Microsoft’s new tablet device and was titled ‘Microsoft Surface tablet is sincerest form of flattery for Apple’. I was intrigued.
The article quoted Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White writing in a note to investors:
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night. At the same time, this event indicates to us that Microsoft is still searching for its own identity in the post-PC era, something that has come naturally for Apple with the rise of the mobile internet.”
Of course the question that everyone is asking is whether the Surface is a serious contender for the space that Apple has dominated in recent years. White’s assessment was quite blunt when he said; “we found little in yesterday’s presentation that would convince us that a consumer would prefer Surface over an iPad”. (more…)
By , Consultant
There has been much debate about Facebook’s timeline with an equal following of lovers and haters. Regardless, it looks set to stay, at least for a while. With many marketers still finding their feet, we’ve put together a short hit list to help you make the most the timeline’s features quickly and easily.
What does your cover image say about you?
The new cover image provides an opportunity to make an impact in an instant. Think about what you want to say about your brand and how you want to engage with your audience.
Below, the Ted cover shows a packed event instantly telling the user what they do, whilst Oxfam demonstrate the positive impact they are having with a photo of happy, smiley children.
Take note to adhere to Facebook’s brand guidelines which stipulate that the cover image cannot include prices, offers, calls to action or contact information.
By Craig Cartwright, Technical Architect
Well it’s the end of an era for Google Analytics: come end of January 2012 they plan to replace the current interface we have all learnt to love and use with the new dashboard and features that they’ve been promoting for a while (Some may have already jumped shipped to the new interface as we’ve all had the chance for a while to change to the new!).
So what does this actually mean for all of us? And is it time to panic? Well I’d like to think that it’s nothing too serious to worry about, and for most, it will all be fine. But for some of the regular users like me that use some of the more obscure reports, it does mean some annoyance as they are being laid to rest (RIP).
But before running for the hills (or the likes of other great analytics packages such as Mint, etc.) be aware that some of these reports can still be found – but in the strangest of places – namely as “secondary dimensions” or via “advanced segments” for some of the traditional reports. As per the old interface these act as additional “parameters” for filtering reports. For example, the great old screen resolutions reports is now stored/shown as a secondary dimension in the browser report.
So what’s the hype or moan about? Well, with my like for spaghetti westerns – here’s my take on the good, the bad and the plain ugly….
By , Head of Research
It is with a sense of relief, and not a little gratitude to my colleagues, that I can formally announce the launch of our latest sector report: Integration or isolation? – The digital landscape for UK financial services.
I have been producing big reports into various sector websites for over ten years and the title of this one had me reflecting on the process that we undertake to get these reports ‘to press’.
As always the research and data collection is really the easy bit. It can be done in isolation. Just put me in front of a computer, leave me alone for a few weeks with a spreadsheet and ‘the job’s a good ‘un’!
It’s the concept, design, proofing and coordination of the people who help me bring the reports together that presents the biggest challenge – the integration.
By , Consultant
At our recent #UsabilityFail seminar Mark Russell and I spoke about why you should stop wasting your marketing budgets on bad usability, covering the functional and organisation barriers that inhibit organisations from providing good online customer experience.
According to a recent report by e-Marketer by 2015 an estimated $51b will be being spent on online marketing each year.
So much money is spent and so much hard work is involved in getting people to your site which is fundamentally wasted if the experiences customers have on your site are poor. You should also be concerned that bad user experiences hurt your brand.
It’s easy to look at sales figures (or whatever success means for you) to quantify how well you are doing. With pride these figures get marched (well, sent) off to the senior management team where everyone pats themselves on the back for a job well done and left with the impression everything is going to plan.
But while this tells a usability story of sorts does this really indicate anything about the usability of the site and how satisfied your customers are with their experience on it?
For many years I worked for a website that failed to address the usability flaws in one of the most popular areas of the site because it provided the “least profit”. Investment was instead piled into those areas that were on paper the “most profitable” even though they were less visited.
This lack of investment where a larger percentage of visitors were most engaged ultimately turned people away from the profitable areas of the site. Why? Does a bad experience resonate with users much more than a good one? You can be certain of it!
We as website users take good usability and experiences for granted and so we should if you want your business to succeed online. Poor usability resonates with us and makes us more likely therefore to leave, complain and never return.
This is the first in a series of profiles we’re pulling together from across the company covering all disciplines, to give you an idea of what Precedent’s about, how we work as a company and the opportunities that come from joining our team.
Amy Sansom, junior developer, Precedent Edinburgh
Having spent several years playing with web design as a hobby, I decided to go on and do a conversion course in multimedia and web authoring. I was lucky enough to land a junior developer job with Precedent almost straight afterwards.
Since starting with Precedent I have learnt a great deal: we use a variety of CMSs and develop in a mixture of languages. I’ve had a chance to develop with new and emerging technologies while working so closely with the other departments has increased my understanding of the whole process from start to finish.