User Research Methods & Measuring UX (NYC pt. 2)

The User Research Methods course was about the many different ways of measuring the User Experience (UX). Any method from qualitative (“it feels wrong”) to quantitative measurements (“31% of people click on this button”). The course showed us how to differentiate between self-reported data (what people say they do) vs. behavioural data (what people actually do). A short list of the different research methods includes:

  • Usability lab studies
  • Ethnographic field studies
  • Eye tracking / Click tracking
  • Remote usability studies
  • A/B testing
  • True intent studies
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Card sorting
  • Customer feedback
  • Surveys

Each of these has its own pros and cons, and each has its own best time to be used.  The ones we use the most at Red Carpet Web Promotion tend to be A/B testing, Remote and In-lab usability studies, Click tracking, and Surveys.

The Measuring User Experience course was about when to measure a website, and how to know if the data you have is significant or not.  The course taught us when to use formative testing (early in the design) or summative testing (to compare a final product with previous versions or with the competition); How many tests and subjects to use, and how to account for errors, either random or systematic.  All of these put together allows us to do superior and more appropriate testing, and to sort through the data to get to the good stuff.

The result of these courses was to bring much more vigilance to significant errors when Red Carpet Web Promotion runs tests.  We also have expanded the types of tests we can do.

Our goal is to maximize your ROI, and this can’t be done if people don’t have a good user experience.  A quick first test is usually simple, and will bring in oodles of high-quality data that might never have occurred to you.

So sign up quick for your UX testing, because the longer you wait, the more conversions you are missing out on.

See part 1: UX Basic Training in NYC

UX Basic Training in NYC (pt. 1)

Last September, I attended some usability training courses in New York City offered by the Nielsen Norman Group (  I took UX Basic Training, Measuring User Experience, and User Research Methods.  In my own experiences, I have found that a site with a poor UX will not do as well in the search engine results.  This comes as a result of people not liking the site, and thus not linking to it.  This in turn informs the search engines that the site is poor, and thus the search engines drop its rankings in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

  • An excellent UX is thus REQUIRED for your website to achieve higher rankings in the SERPs.

In taking these courses I have become UX Certified and may now be addressed as: Shawn Campbell UXC (Ha!).  With one more course, I will become a UX Research Specialist (probably next September).

The first course, UX Basic Training, explained UX beyond the website and into everyday life. Problems like a bathroom scale that is too complex to use, or a teapot that drips every time you pour it, these are usability problems that affect the user experience.  We learnt which research methods to use and how to analyse the data we acquired.  We learnt how to use the data to improve the user experience, and how to make UX an important part of any service or product.  With this knowledge, we can now properly evaluate how to measure their usability.

A great take away from this course was to always make sure that your core service was easy to use, and that the peripherals did not interfere with the usability of that core service.

See part 2: User Research Methods & Measuring UX

Google Roadshow

I attended a Conference at Google’s Montreal office yesterday. I got an excellent refresher on all the of the advertising opportunities in YouTube and with the Google Display Network. A few things stood out as I learnt about some great new features, some of which are still in the beta stage, and also more about Gmail ads which have been available for about 1 month. Any advertiser can now use Gmail ads to target the user based on keywords or domain names that appear in email messages as well as Google search queries on the Web, sites visited and Google Profile information.

Another interesting feature for display ads and YouTube ads is Brand Lift. Brand Lift uses one question surveys to measure the effectiveness of your ads and how they affect awareness and branding.

Overall it was a conference worth attending and will help me to offer the most appropriate Google ad opportunities to my clients.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Changes

This week Google added mobile friendliness as a factor in search engine ranking. Some of the factors in determining mobile friendliness are the text size, button size and the amount of space between links. A good solution is to have a mobile responsive site which means that as you adjust the screen size the layout changes to accommodate. This avoids having to zoom in and scroll side-to-side when viewing a site on a smaller device. See this site for example: and drag your window size smaller to see how the page adjusts. Notice that the menu also becomes a drop down menu which is easier to use on mobile.

We have been converting many sites to mobile responsive so that sites are easier to use on mobiles. If your website is not mobile responsive, please contact us to help with this transition.

A Google representative said mobile friendliness was “one of many” factors used by the search engine to rank results.  In a blog post the company said it would have “a significant impact”.

You can check this link to see how your site scores for mobile friendliness: The plumbing site I linked to above scored “Awesome”.


How the Doorway Page Penalty can affect Landing Pages.

doorway-pagesOn March 16, 2015 Google announced that they will adjust their algorithm which will strongly impact websites using doorway pages. The explanation behind this change is that Google believes that doorway pages negatively impact a user’s search experience. This is especially true for pages with similar content but only keyword changes or for websites created with the sole purpose to lead traffic to another website.

Landing pages

Landing pages can be set up on a website as a destination page for specific ads or even to bring in traffic from search engines. These two uses must be treated differently especially after this latest algorithm change.

If it is a landing page for ads, there are good reasons for customizing pages that would not be SEO-friendly. For example you might want to create several pages with very similar content except for keywords which match the ads bringing in traffic. The keyword focus would improve your quality score and improve conversions. There is no need to integrate these pages in your site menu or from links on other pages since the landing pages are meant specifically to convert visitors who come in from ads.  To avoid penalties to your site you must inform search engine robots not to index these pages. Use either the meta tag <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”> or use a separate robots.txt file to tell robots which pages not to index.

Will a NOINDEX also block the AdsBot-Google

Blocking all robots in your meta tag or robots.txt file will not block the AdWords bot unless you explicitly block AdsBot-Google. AdWords will assume that you want the page to be spidered since you put it as a destination for a paid ad. Google Adwords support confirmed this with us with the following email:

“If we are ever unable to crawl a site for any reason, we will manually review the landing page before giving it a quality score. We do not automatically give you a bad quality score if the ads bot is unable to crawl the site.”

If it is a landing page for SEO meaning that you want to attract visitors from regular search results, it must have original, useful content and have links from menus and other pages on the site. Think of it in every way as new content to be properly integrated with your website.

Building doorway pages is a technique that we stopped using many years ago for exactly the reasons mentioned by Google. Ironically, doorway pages are what launched our company in 2000! Building landing pages for Google AdWords campaigns on the other hand is still a very good idea as long as you block search engine robots from pages with duplicate content.

Google Business View – Inside Your Business.

Why add Google Street View for your business?
Quite simply, it provides additional visibility for your company on Google Search, Google+ and Google Maps. It invites your potential customers to a virtual sneak peek of your place of business. High resolution, 360 degree images are taken by a professional photographer in your city, at a convenient time for you. You can discuss what your needs are with the photographer and what images you want of the exterior and interior of your establishment. Once approved, the images are posted after only a few weeks and the photo rights belong to your business, not the photographer. Google Street View can also be easily embedded on your website via Google Maps API or HTML. Numerous case studies have demonstrated that Street View has substantially increased foot traffic to businesses. Read more about Google Street

9 statistics about SEO

Read this convincing article that gives some teeth to the importance of SEO.

Here is a glimpse:

“Leads generated through SEO close at around 14.6 percent while leads from other channels close at an average of 1.7 percent. -HubSpot”

“The #1 organic result gets nearly twice as many clicks as the #2 result. –Chitika/ Search Engine Land”

See the full article here