Puzzling Pogby

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental. For a refresher of the Quick-UX Credibility Rubric visit: Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

Today, we will look at the first of a set of two products that achieved a solidly Low Credibility value of 0.325.

Low Credibility

Each of these 0.325 scored websites leave a varied resultant feeling of Credibility, in-part due to design, marking, color choices, etc. But, overall this set of products with solidly Low Credibility were assessed low values due to a lack of fulfilling some of the most basic, and easiest to achieve, fundamental elements inherent to any quick assessment of a product’s Credibility.

Example 1: Pogby

Pogby is an event planning and venue booking product that presents a welcoming experience.

00_pogby_homepage

But, while there are clearly…

  • No obvious typos and
  • Contact methods are provided,

01_pogby_contact

…many other elements are absent, most importantly those …

  • Showing the real people behind this organization, and
  • Establishing other characteristics that cement the "realness" of the organization (e.g. physical address).

The content and function of the site is presented fairly well.

02_pogby_content

But, when it comes to the content of ‘About Us,’ there is a clear disconnect in expectation.

03_pogby_aboutus

The ‘About Us’ page goes far in describing the intricacies of the product, but misses on the ‘us.’ They leave one central question unanswered..

Who is/are us?

Awk Ad

Pogby has a nice color scheme. This color scheme is strangely very well coordinated with the single advertisement of the product.

04_pogby_ad

The position of the ad, coupled with its color scheme, brings up questions of ulterior motives and inherent biases. While not having a direct impact on the Quick-UX Credibility value, this does hurt the product’s Credibility.

Is this website run by American Express?

Is there a bias towards venues that work exclusively with American Express?

These questions may be "nonsense" to the individuals behind the product, but the are nonetheless fueled by these poor decisions of matching color schemes coupled with the advertisement’s placement and persistence.

Furthermore, just by placing the ad within the page header, on a level of importance to the product’s name and logo, is much too forward an advertising strategy for the average user. When websites are too aggressive with their presentation of ads, they wear away at their own Credibility.

Should Do

Pogby presents a user experience with a very solidly Low Credibility. In the near term, to improve their Credibility, they should focus…

  • Show the living, breathing people behind the product. Talk about them and bring some authenticity to the product.
  • Provide a broader array of contact methods. (for example: direct to team members, telephone, address, etc.)

… and very importantly…

  • Move the ad. Label the ad as an ad. Or if it is not an ad, and this site is more tightly tied to American Express, don’t obfuscate, provide greater transparency into this relationship and how it impacts the overall user experience.

Quick & Useful

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility …

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

UPDATE: Resulting from an analysis that took minutes, Pogby was able to take focused action, over 1 night, and implement changes with a significant impact on this product and its Credibility. (Read more)

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About these ads

IndyBudget’s Deficit

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental. For a refresher of the Quick-UX Credibility Rubric visit: Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

Today, we will look at the third of a set of three products that just barely (and almost) achieved a Low Credibility value of 0.325.

Low Credibility

In the set of examples of Low Credibility, that we are exploring, each demonstrates a severe lack in fundamentals. Interesting to this group is the fact each just barely (or almost) achieved the Quick-UX Credibility value of 0.325, resulting from…

No obvious typos, and

Some form (some very minimal) method of contact provided.

Example 3: IndyBudget

IndyBudget looks like it may be a really handy online financial product.

06_indybudget_homepage

07_indybudget_free-account

But, it is a financial product in need of a stimulus, an injection of Credibility. All products need to have a level of Credibility, and within a financial product this is even more true.

On the plus side, there are screenshots of the product and a prominently placed contact tab on the homepage that brings the user to the contact form.

07.5_indybudget_screenshots

However, while this contact form is already more robust than Convert Files, its dearth of information too barely counts as an instantly trustworthy method of contact.

08_indybudget_contact

It Takes Money

Unique to IndyBudget, amongst its peers within this set of borderline 0.325 Low Credibility products, is that it has a paid subscription component.

09_indybudget_subscribe

IndyBudget is a web product, with weak fundamentals of Credibility, that wants your money. At the current level of Credibility establishment, this is a good deal to be asking of any user.

The basis of IndyBudget’s Credibility resides in a lack of typos and having a contact form. With Low Credibility, asking for any amount of money, asking for any credit card information, is a tremendous hurdle over which to coax your consumers.

Should Do

This is a product with exciting upside potential. But, it must firmly establish its Credibility within the competitive market of online financial products. A financial product must aim higher when establishing and growing its Credibility; even more critical for a product that wants your money.

To create the needed Credibility, IndyBudget needs to lay crucial cornerstones. Such as…

  • Provide both email and telephone contact information,
  • Display your physical address, and
  • Show the people that stand behind this product (and how to speak with them).

IndyBudget should definitely go beyond these basics in building up its Credibility; as should any product hoping to be a repository for such critically sensitive information as an individual’s finances or requesting any credit card payments. Additional constructive steps IndyBudget should consider are…

  • Provide details about the security of the environment within which this data is stored
  • Present a simplified explanation of the treatment of financial, as well as credit card, data
  • Better convey why IndyBudget exists, its long- and short-term goals for the company and for the consumer
  • Launch a blog that keeps users up-to-date on relevant events and goals
    • Note: This blog should not sound nor feel like a robot writing. Make it real; enable your consumers to connect and feel connected to the real individuals behind IndyBudget.

Quick & Useful

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Unforward ToRSS

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental. For a refresher of the Quick-UX Credibility Rubric visit: Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

Today, we will look at the second of a set of three products that just barely (and almost) achieved a Low Credibility value of 0.325.

Low Credibility

In the set of examples of Low Credibility, that we are exploring, each demonstrates a severe lack in fundamentals. Interesting to this group is the fact each just barely (or almost) achieved the Quick-UX Credibility value of 0.325, resulting from…

No obvious typos, and
Some form (some very minimal) method of contact provided.

Example 2: ToRSS

ToRSS is a product that enables users to receive their email via RSS.

04_torss_homepage

This is a nifty product for those with non-personal email within non-personal email accounts.

What? You say you don’t get much non-personal email.

Another likely reaction of any user to this product is…

What?! You want me to enter my email address and password? And, who are you? LOL

Credibility is always important. And, in this case, Credibility is critical. ToRSS is requiring their users trust them enough to provide an email address, an email password and full access to all the user’s email.

The good news is that there is an email address provided to contact the product’s creators.

05_torss_contact

However, this very non-descript means of contact is surrounded by no context clues as to who or what is being emailed.

The only other link that may provide some basic information is the link…

"Thanks for desing"

Possibly mistaken as thanking the individual(s) who created this page, it merely links to another template website. And, upon a bit of word un-jumbling, one is likely to realize that ‘desing’ is not the name of the individual, nor the group, responsible for the creation or look-and-feel, but rather a typo for the word ‘design.’ Until this realization, this was a product with a Low Credibility value of 0.325, but when a product, that already has very few ties to anything from without, goes about trying to thank another organization, and fumbles the attempt with a typo, any meager credit held along that element of Credibility vanishes, resulting in an adjusted Credibility value of 0.175. It’s too bad that even in ToRSS’s attempt to connect to something potentially more real than themselves, achieving some Credibility by association, falls flat since they misspelled the link.

Should Do

Prior to the typo adjustment, the Credibility value was already very low. The elements that contributed to the Credibility value were already a very weak foundation, especially when taken together with the necessity of High Credibility associated with sharing an email account and its password.

ToRSS has a high requirement for Credibility and, therefore, has a good deal more to do to build it up and maintain it. After fixing the silly, careless typo, the product needs to go about establishing the facts that not only are there real people behind this real organization, and they are reachable, but that all this confidentially sensitive email information is treated with the utmost of care within a secured environment.

Quick & Useful

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Skeptical Convert

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental. For a refresher of the Quick-UX Credibility Rubric visit: Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

Today, we will look at the first of a set of three products that just barely (and almost) achieved a Low Credibility value of 0.325.

Low Credibility

In the set of examples of Low Credibility, that we are exploring, each demonstrates a severe lack in fundamentals. Interesting to this group is the fact each just barely (or almost) achieved the Quick-UX Credibility value of 0.325, resulting from…

No obvious typos, and
Some form (some very minimal) method of contact provided.

Example 1: Convert Files

This professional looking product appears to have it all, from features to simplicity. But, the most important thing Convert Files lacks is Credibility.

00_convertfiles_homepage

There is little information of any sort that would allow an individual to trust this product with anything personal or sensitive. Most everything that the site has to say is said on the homepage. There is nothing personal, or otherwise, that exists to convince people that there may not be some ulterior motive.

Form of Contact

Convert Files does get positive credit for having a contact form. Barely.

01_convertfiles_contact

This means of contacting the product’s owner(s) is the most generic, barest minimum of contact forms. I was initially inclined to not count the contact form due to the lack of overall Credibility and utter lack of language used in describing it. This form is so under represented it is a wonder that anyone would even dare enter the minimal information (name, email address, message) required to try to establish a credible conversation.

Slightly Ad-ed

Ads don’t help the Credibility issues here. But, for this product, with this function and layout, the advertisements do not nearly have as damaging an impact on the site’s Credibility as those ads found at Likexo.

02_convertfiles_ads

Tricky "Tabs"

The page layout, too, is very deceptive. Many of the tabs on the top of the page merely link to sections within the page body.

03_convertfiles_tabs

The top navigation of the page follows a very standard user experience design pattern of tabbed page navigation. However, the behavior exhibited is not the expected behavior of tabs. This implementation creates an experience that just doesn’t feel right. And if there were ever a contest for the best example of dishonest design and user interaction, this product’s navigation would be in the running.

This sort of interaction damages a product’s Credibility, if not overtly, then often on a more subconscious level. Those behind this product would benefit from choosing to either present all of the information indicated by the ‘tabs’ on separate pages, or change the interactive design for intra-page navigation.

Should Do

After establishing a (much) more credible experience, Convert Files could make great strides in consumer value by building upon the trust and making individuals comfortable with using this service for ANY file. But, before that value can be found, let’s start with some bios and a more robust means by which to contact this organization.

Quick & Useful

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Unbelievable Likexo

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental. For a refresher of the Quick-UX Credibility Rubric visit: Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

Today, we will look at an example of a product with No Credibility, with a value of 0.0.

No Credibility

On many fronts, from concept to style, Likexo has many things going for it. But, in the area of Credibility, it falls very flat.

00_likexo_homepage

On first blush, the site starts out OK. The design is fairly clean, not overly complex. As with any website, the new user approaches with skepticism and some very basic questions,

Who is behind it?
What is their motive?
Where are they located?
Is this for real?
etc.

The most common place to start is by taking a quick peek at the ‘About Us’ page.

01_likexo_aboutus

Once arriving, it can be quickly concluded there may be something to learn about the product, but very little to learn ‘about us,’ the team that stands behind this product. As a matter of fact, there is nothing to learn about the individuals…

who they are,
where they are, or
how to contact them (by email and/or by phone).

This is a great way to sow the seeds of distrust — creating more disconcerting questions.

Is the team embarrassed by the product?
Are they unwilling to stand behind their product? Why?
Is their an ulterior motive? a nefarious relationship?

Obvious Typos

As with all products, the consumers of these products want to see that you take the time and care in both the creation and presentation of your own product. As the creator of a product, you can only hope that your users care about your product as much as you do.

However, when you demonstrate a lake of attention to detail, through typos, poor grammar, bad formatting, etc., the visitors to this product can only ask…

If the people behind this product don’t care about it, WHY SHOULD I?

Indeed, this very appropriate question raises some very large concerns on the product’s Credibility (even larger when taken into account with all the other foundational Credibility misses already discussed).

On the lesser of the typographical issues, a visitor can observe poor paragraph formatting and missing periods littered throughout the FAQ page.

02_likexo_faq

Perhaps the most egregious of the form of typo that can occur within any product that will always have a detrimental impact on Credibility are those that have to do with the company’s name. The company name is inconsistently formatted on the About Us page. In one instance, within adjacent sentences, the duality of capitalization can be seen as…

"Likexo is a social network oriented to the likes of the people. Therefore, the profile of a person for likexo is not his/her career, the school attended or if he/she has a girlfriend/boyfriend: your profile is your likes."

On the About Us page, the formatting of ‘likexo’ is used heavily, while back on the FAQ page, ‘Likexo’ is the predominant spelling, with the occasional ‘likexo’. If you want people to believe in you, demonstrate that you have taken the care to know who you are, and that you know how to format your own product’s name.

Other Hand

On the positive side, it is great that they have blog and twitter accounts.

03_likexo_twitter 04_likexo_blog

These represent a slight bend in the right direction. However, even on these fronts there are no obvious ways to reach out with any sense of connecting with a real person. There are no names of real people, nor any sense of personalized discussion — just very corporate, non-informal speak.

Should Do

As the Likexo/likexo user starts to investigate, and check on the trustworthiness of the organization, attempting to understand who or what is behind it, they are left with every single question that existed at the beginning of their search for Credibility.

Some very basic steps can be taken in laying the foundation for this product’s Credibility. They are:

  • Clean up the typos and formatting. Be consistent in the usage of language and grammar.
  • Provide methods to be contacted, by email, by phone.
  • Provide the company’s physical address. Prove that this is a real company.
  • Show that there are real people behind this product, that care about this product, that are working on this product. Display bio’s and pictures of these real people. Provide ways for users to reach out to these real people.

Altogether, these simple tips can move this product from a Credibility value of 0 (No Credibility) to a 1 (High Credibility).

Another bit of advice, regarding the product’s ever present advertising. While advertising does not impact the Quick-UX Credibility value, its use throughout Likexo is excessive and poorly integrated in the design and flow of the site, negatively impacting the overall User Experience, and, in-turn, the overall Credibility of a serious website.

05_likexo_ads

This implementation of advertising begs the question, are they trying to provide a value-added service, or simply exist as yet another vehicle whose primary purpose is to cram down as much advertising as possible in this new format. — Not a question a new product, seeking to credibly establish itself within the hyper-competitive online world wants on the table, but one which can also be rapidly addressed.

Quick & Useful

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

UPDATE: Likexo recently contacted me to let me know that this article lead to very meaningful improvements in their product. And they are right. (Read more)

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Quick-UX & Credibility: Do you believe?

The Credibility of a product is absolutely critical, whether it is coming from a brand-new startup, or an established corporation. There is a great deal that goes into the Credibility of a product, from the people that hype it, to its visual presentation. However, there are a few basic elements that go directly to the foundational aspects of product Credibility upon which the rest of the product’s truthfulness is built.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usefulness, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Credibility is one in the frequent discussion of cautious engagement, especially in the ever increasing, in both frequency and size, waves of introductions of online products.

For Example

Many different types of company products present their own issues of Credibility and the questions that they immediately invoke in visitors.

Some questions that come to mind in a…

…startup’s product are…

  • Is this company going to be around? Are they still around?
  • Can they be trusted with my personal info?
  • Can I trust them to pay as much, or more, or less, attention to me as they did their own product? (especially relevant if there are mistakes, typos, etc.)
  • Will someone be there if I have a problem?

…news / opinion product are…

  • How do I know if the opinion is, or is not, coming from the organization that owns the product being recommended?
  • Do I have the information necessary to assess any potential site / author bias?

…e-commerce product are…

  • Can I trust them with my credit card and home address?

…financial product are…

  • Is this information (e.g. numbers, quotes, values) accurate?
  • Can they be trusted with my money?
  • If there is a problem can I contact someone? Can I speak with someone?

…non-profit’s product are…

  • Is this company legitimate?
  • Can I speak with them?
  • Who represents this organization?
  • What is the reputation of this nonprofit (as well as the reputations of the people behind it)?

Care & Verify

Basically, in an evaluation of a product’s Credibility

  • with what care have the product’s claims been made, and
  • how many of those claims am I empowered and / or able to independently verify.

Establishing and maintaining Credibility is the removal, or minimization of concerns arising from these types of questions. Many elements (design, accuracy, usability, timeliness, advertising, etc.) contribute to the positive, or negative, perception of overall product Credibility, but for Quick-UX’s evaluation we assess only the most elemental.

Rubric

There are some very basic measures of Credibility that can be easily and quickly determined for Quick-UX, as well as in the broader and ever changing world of online products. The Credibility variable is assigned its value via summation. The minimum value of Credibility is 0, or none. The Credibility variable adds…

  • 0.15 if no obvious typos are found throughout the product,
  • 0.175 if email contact information is provided,
  • 0.175 if telephone contact information is provided,
  • 0.25 if a physical address for the location of the business is provided,
  • 0.125 if there is an “About Us” page that contains bios about the members of the team behind the product, and
  • 0.125 if, on the “About Us” page, alongside the Bios, direct contact information to each of the individuals listed can be found.

Quick & Useful

Taken all together, these variables (Functional Expectations, Error Management, Product Differentiation, Findability, and Credibility) represent the Usefulness category of Quick-UX for the evaluated product. When looking at an entire product, the question “Should I use it?” represents only 1 of the 3 core components (Usability, Usefulness, Desirability) of a Quick-UX evaluation – a sure-fire, rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring and ins-and-outs of Credibility, walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Credibility

No Credibility
Barely Low Credibility (part 1, 2, 3)
Solidly Low Credibility (part 1, 2)
Average Credibility & Tech News (part 1, 2, 3)
More Average Credibility (part 1, 2)
High Credibility

Update: Renewed Pogby
Update: Likexo

Quick-UX Credibility, In Conclusion

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Somewhat Less Del.icio.us

deliciouslogo_thumb3…because Delicious is synonymous with tagging online. With all of the improvements made within the latest upgrade to Delicious, the functionality and procedures surrounding tagging remain minimally and indirectly altered. Primarily, the changes to Delicious (its domain name included) were limited to desirability and usability (discussed last week), with its usefulness marginally augmented.

Lacking

There were no improvements nor innovations of any parts related to tagging. I look forward to seeing a more innovative stance from Delicious and seeing resolute efforts made to…

  • Encourage and facilitate more tagging,
  • Add structure and order to the tagging process, and
  • Improve the searching, exploration, and discovery process.

By no means are any of these (Delicious) next steps trivial, but rather they are steps (most specifically related to the Usefulness of the product) that will need to be continually presented and refined, by whichever company that desires to be a leader in describing the context and content of the web.

Encourage

Tagging is critical to Delicious. Central to success for a user and to the Delicious community- at- large, is the frequent and descriptive usage of tags. With less tagging, or less accurate tagging, users will have a more difficult time locating older content. With more tagging, users are able to better organize, filter, and find saved and new information. With more tagging, the community will be able to better understand the extent of the existing system-wide knowledge, and how it is evolving, as well as the potential it has for impacting themselves.

Today, Delicious encourages tagging by way of simple user interface presentations, inline editing…

01_inline_edit

…and the display of Popular tags and Recommended tags within the full-screen edit of new content…

02_recommended

In addition, the new Sidebars, by allowing for easier, to both modify and view, access of tags, also facilitate their bundling and usage.

03_sidebars

In some sense Delicious has made tagging a little bit easier to understand, read, and do. Substantial in encouraging any sort of online activity is the simplification of that activity. In this sense, there are many avenues to explore. Some of them being…

Make tag suggestions based on the actual content of the new destination page being submitted to Delicious. Then, let the user select tags they feel are appropriate — it is much easier to click a suggestion, than think up a word and type it (e.g. corrected spelling, finer-tuned additions, alternate similar tags). More information can be coaxed from the user with the simple encouragement via intelligent suggestions, which can be appended to a new (or existing) entry with the click of the mouse.

Infer deeper meta information, again based, on the context of the target page or tags already typed. For example, if the user is typing “New York, ” suggest “state” and “city.” Continuing this example, should the user select “city,” additional geo-tags can then be automatically appended.

Identify potential sub-tags based on the context of the already entered tags, leveraging the power of the crowd, and offer suggestions of tags that are frequently related. If an individual enters the tag “person,” suggest some common types of people. If someone types “person” and “moon,” Delicious may identify the other related tags like “scientist,” “astronaut,” and “astronomer.”

Encourage alternate or corrected tags (spelling, more common or specific descriptors)

Add

The most obvious injection of structure is introduced to the tagging process within the latest update via the orderless tags of the Tag Bar…

04_tagbar

From more structure comes a reduction in the information / content noise. Presenting just a little bit of structure, or means of organization, has a significant impact on the system utility – from the introduction of a minimally common way of thinking and organizing to helping people focus their tagging descriptions and find new information within different, and possibly foreign, domains.

Simple personal structure, like folders and private tags, would have a greater impact upon this goal — and for those people, and there are more than a handful that use multiple Delicious accounts to organize their bookmarks, they would be able to use a single account to accomplish everything (and probably more, especially without the burden of maintaining multiple accounts).

On the non-personal, i.e. public, additions of increased structure, merely a level or two of hierarchical guidance (e.g. tag categories) could exist to help the user quickly zero in on an accurate description of the new content directly resulting in reducing the “strain” on the user to figure out the right tags to assign, as well as letting them come back later and add more details as they occur to the user, all while still being able to filter and zero back in on the item in the future.

Improve

The latest upgrade added the ability for context-based searching and Tag Bar usability enhancements in an effort to improve the searching, exploration, and knowledge discovery processes.

05_search

In the end, this upgrade was quite incremental in nature in so far as the purpose of exploration and discovery are concerned. Here too, knowledge discovery and searching can greatly benefit from an increase in simplification.

Instead of entering, or guessing, one tag at a time, to browse or find content, semi-hierarchical tag clusters, representing concepts and groups of varying scope, could be automatically generated. Individuals would be able to gain broader understanding of the current state of the Delicious environment, the coalescing of tags and ideas, and use them as an alternate means of drilling down.

Another method of simplifying the discovery and search actions can be done through the offering of suggestions for alternate and additional words related to the tags being entered for the search (just like those suggestions that can be made when submitting new content).

Improving the exploration and discovery processes will directly lead to the increased utility and usefulness of Delicious.

…and…

Since Delicious had been acquired by Yahoo (Dec. 2005) change has come very slowly to the product and created a plethora of opportunities within the tagging (and semantic tagging) space that have yet to be fully taken advantage of — but, eventually, either Delicious will choose to lead or other companies, like flickr or twine.

Delicious accomplished a good deal in the way of improving the tagging experience. Now they need to continue, and evolve the functionality of Delicious, (the tagging) and improve the usefulness — lest the mantel for tagging leadership be taken up by other innovators, like flickr, twine, or another up-and-comer.

Share & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Somewhat More Del.icio.us

delicious-logo With the delivery of the Delicious version 2.0, 9 months after everyone received the initial sneak peak, also came the formal changing of the product name from del.icio.us to delicious.com (no more funny period punctuation) — making the domain name easier to remember, type, and use.

And this is the theme that enjoyably permeates all aspects of the Delicious upgrade – improving the usability and desirability of everything Delicious. Delicious has made wonderful use of color, contrast, flow, and balance. All this results in simplifying all aspects of interaction, providing more intuitive control, as well as bringing to light features that many, including myself, never knew existed.

As part of bringing to light these “secret” or lesser used features, Delicious has made a serious effort in raising the level of social interaction and sense of community. Wherever you look and interact, there is always a sense of connectedness to other people, from the new look of the bookmarks…

…to more intuitive access to other people’s tags and notes on your bookmarks…

other-peoples-tags

…and the priority level navigation to people…

navigation

… and their networks…

network

Throughout the new UX, from the tag bar to context-based searching to editing bookmarks, everything is zippier (also with less page loading and more ajax) and the interactions much more enjoyable.

Known for tagging

The improvements don’t introduce much in the way of new features or enhancements to the concepts of tagging — but, as I continue to find out, these improvements have brought to light many features that always existed and makes others easier to notice and use. That is why, as I denote in the title, the long awaited upgrade is tagged with ‘somewhat.’ Delicious has been known for its leadership in the tagging of the Internet. Will this leadership continue? Has the mantel already been wrested by fresher upstarts?

Next week, I will continue with part 2 (of 2) of our discussion of Delicious, this latest product update, and look further at how Delicious 2.0 has taken tagging to the next level.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring Delicious 2.0 as well as other upcoming, insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Do I want to use it? Evaluating Desirability through Quick-UX.

desirability Desirability is a very real component of a product’s User eXperience. The feelings that a product invokes in an individual are often difficult for that individual to elaborate upon, beyond such feelings like those of a sense of pleasantness, happiness, awkwardness, or one of frustration.

While quantifying Desirability can, in many cases, prove to be quite challenging, those emotions that relate to the Desirability of a product can be quantified via Quick-UX as one of its three core categories (the other two core categories being Usability and Usefulness).

The minimal representative subset of variables for Desirability that adhere to the primary goals of Quick-UX (quick assessment for summary, direction guidance, and quantitative comparison) are…

  • Aesthetics (and minimal design),
  • Layout (including the visual hierarchy, flow and grouping of elements of the product)
  • Color Scheme (and Contrast), and
  • Typography.

Aesthetics

Information overload negatively impacts, hence the word ‘overload,’ the actual Desirability of a product. Any more, or supplemental, information and functionality than is needed contributes to the erosion of a pleasing and enjoyable experience.

Content, mouse-interactions, and transitional animations should be kept short and to the point. Do not explain a feature with a paragraph of information where a brief 3 word phrase would do, nor use a 3 word phrase when a clearly identifiable button can, itself, clearly convey the underlying message or functionality.

I have found that the product’s Aesthetics contribute most significantly to its overall Desirability. For this reason, unlike the other variables that make up Quick-UX, the Aesthetics variable can be assigned a value from 0 through 2 (as opposed to the typical maximum value of 1).

The value assigned to the Aesthetics variable in determining Desirability within Quick-UX is…

  • 2 if the product presents a clean, sharp, pleasing and enjoyable product environment where interaction is a pleasure. In addition, the product consistently makes good use of mouse-overs and animated transitions.
  • 1 if the product presents generally “OK” Aesthetics. The product may have some mouse-over states and other beneficial transitions, but these states and transitions are found to be incomplete and would benefit from a more comprehensive and consistent implementation.
  • 0 if the product suffers from information and graphical (transitions, interactions, etc.) overload. In this case, the content and graphical aspects of the site continually get in the way of getting the desired task completed quickly, efficiently, and enjoyably.

Layout

The Layout of a page is about more than just Usability. The Layout of a page, the visual hierarchy, its flow, as well as grouping and alignment of its elements, is the environment within which the user works and interacts with the product — it sets the tone and, in turn, shapes the product’s Desirability.

The value of the Layout variable is the sum of the decisions…

…regarding the product’s visual hierarchy…

If the most important content of the page

  • Stands out clearly (the user’s eyes are instantly drawn to these elements), add 0.4, or
  • Takes at least a few seconds to become apparent, add 0.2, or
  • Takes more than a few seconds to become apparent, don’t add anything.

…regarding the interface’s visual flow…

The visual flow can be described as the interface/page forces that guide the users’ eyes about the page. If a page has a negative visual flow, then it contributes to guiding the eyes away from the critical sections that need to be looked at and used to take primary actions and make decisions.

If the overall visual flow provides a non-negative impact on the page hierarchy,

then add 0.3,
otherwise do not add anything.

Furthermore, if the interfaces of the product require / recommend a specific sequence of steps be taken to accomplish a task, and the visual flow has a negative impact, guiding the user in the non-desired order, then subtract 0.15 from the Layout variable.

…regarding the grouping and alignment of the page / product elements…

A good product has clearly defined ‘regions’ within its interface. For example, a search engine may have one region for entering the search parameters, and another region for viewing the search results.

If the interfaces of the product present UI elements that appear to be scattered, placed without association or relevance to neighboring or distant elements that possess similar or different functionality, then no additional value is added to the Layout variable.

Otherwise, if most page elements appear to form logical, related groups or clusters, where perhaps not all of the clusters are neighboring or some of the clusters have redundant logic and functionality, then add 0.15 to the Layout variable.

However, if the relationships between like and dissimilar elements and groups are clearly presented, with no apparent inconsistencies, then the Layout variable is, instead, incremented by 0.3.

Color Scheme / Contrast

The Color Scheme of a product sets the mood and appeal. Color schemes can be simple, with only one or two colors, to very complex, with many complementary and varying levels of contrasting colors.

For example, red’s, yellow’s and orange’s are warm colors and, as a Color Scheme, could, very appropriately, be paired with products that wish to intuitively convey concepts or themes of warming or heating, like FeedBurner (as a theme derived from the name) or portable space heaters (products that keep you warm in the cold of winter).

The Color Scheme variable is assigned the value of…

  • 1 if approximately one to three primary hues are present within the product and those selected hues accurately reflect the message and theme of the product (some examples: warm colors = energy, cool colors = respectable, etc.).
  • 0.5 if the color palette is cluttered, there are some extraneous color selections or a mismatch of color temperature, Contrast, or saturation with respect to the messaging and tone. For example, an air conditioning website would probably want to stay away from the warm colors (red, yellow, orange), even if aesthetically pleasing.
  • 0 if the Contrast and color selections that comprise the product’s Color Scheme make some or all of the product’s information and/or functionality difficult or impossible to read or understand.

Typography

Some people do not fully appreciate the degree of impact that Typography can have on a product’s overall User eXperience, and especially its Desirability. Different fonts, different font sizes, and how they are arranged and laid out to interact with one another and other product elements, do more than present readable, or unreadable, content, but frame many of the emotional aspects of the product.

Typography decisions control the ranges of voice from loud and shouting to gentle and whispering, from serious to comical. When products are presented with too many fonts, they increase the likelihood of conveying the information with too many, and inconsistent, voices; as opposed to a pleasing, guiding conversation about the product.

  • If the Typography from page to page, interface to interface, functionality type to functionality type, is clean, readable, and consistent in usage then the Typography variable is assigned a value of 1.
  • Otherwise, if minor to major inconsistencies are apparent, or an overloading of Typography ‘voices’ are present, but all remain readable, the Typography variable becomes 0.5.
  • However, if the inconsistencies are tremendous, and make understanding the content difficult or bewildering, or even if only some of the content is unreadable, the Typography variable equals 0.

So… Do I want to use it?

While this question within the Quick-UX framework provides for the rapid assessment of Desirability, it represents only one of the three ‘questions’ that, when combined with…

Can I use it? (Usability)

Should I use it? (Usefulness)

…provide for an easy, consistent, and expeditious means by which to determine a product’s overall User eXperience.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Should I use it? Evaluating Usefulness through Quick-UX.

useful Usability and Usefulness are also two of the three (the third being Desirability) primary categories involved in Quick-UX and the rapid evaluation of User eXperience.

It takes more than good Usability to have a good product. Another of the key factors in evaluating the overall User eXperience, and, in this case, the Quick-UX rating of a product is Usefulness. The question that naturally follows the Usability question of “Can I use it?” is…

Should I use it?

Again, as in the quick assessment of the Usability variables, and still adhering to the goals of Quick-UX (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables that constitute the minimal representative subset for Usefulness are…

  • Functional Expectations,
  • Error Management (how they are handled and prevented),
  • Product Differentiation (including the question, “is it Memorable?”),
  • Findability (aka search engine and bookmark “friendliness”), and
  • Credibility.

Functional Expectations

A product’s marketing, website content, branding, language and layout combine to set the consumer’s expectations of the what they should anticipate to ‘get out of’ the product. As in many broader areas of life, expectation is critical. For example, if the user is lead to believe that they will be receiving factual numbers with interactive analysis tools about a topic, but instead receive highly subjective opinions, then expectations are sorely mismatched.

To assess the value for Functional Expectations ask the question, “Is this what the target user for this site is going to expect?” The value assigned to the Functional Expectations variable is…

  • 1 if all, major and minor, Functional Expectations are met.
  • 0.5 if some of the core expectations are met. The core expectations consist of the primary implied or promised functionality of the product.
  • 0 if the overall Functional Expectations are missed. The average user will find that the behavior and content of the product is 100% not aligned with any level of expectation set by the product.

Error Management

Ideally, the user can be provided with sufficient guidance to be prevented from making Errors or choosing mistaken, time consuming, paths. Error prevention can be, for example, helpful mouse-overs with timely assistance or real-time checking of the user’s inputs (an email address for example) and making sure it is correctly entered before allowing the user to submit and proceed with their information. However, in places where Error prevention does not suffice, a product should provide clear and simple messaging that allows the user to get back on the correct path, quickly and easily.

A product that does little to mitigate errors or one that frequently churns out thorny error messages, weakens its potential Usefulness.

In evaluating, the Error Management variable is assigned the value of…

  • 1 if the chance of making a mistake is rare, resulting from broadly implemented Error prevention measures. And, should an error occur, the messaging is always easily understood, clear about how to avoid in the future, and will rapidly allow the average user to get back to their desired actions.
  • 0.5 if a few to many Errors are encountered, but can be recovered from in a straightforward manner whereby the same user will also be able to learn to avoid the same Errors in the future.
  • 0 if the same Errors are made frequently and the average user will most likely find them to be difficult to avoid.

Product Differentiation

Assessment of the Product Differentiation variable benefits from at least a minimal level of experience and knowledge of other products similar to the one being assessed. If the product undergoing Quick-UX has a unique solution it is important to understand the scope of this memorable distinction.

I recommend that when determining the value for Product Differentiation to clearly identify and state the universe of products within which this current product is being evaluated. This will allow for more consistent and repeatable results.

Computed a little bit differently than many of the other Quick-UX variables, Product Differentiation’s final value is represented by the sum of the identified differentiating elements. If there are found to be no memorable aspects to the product, the variable is assigned the value of 0, otherwise…

  • 0.2 is added if one of the points of Product Differentiation can be found to be its user interface
  • 0.2 is added if the product distinguishes itself through its product-user interactions
  • 0.6 is added if the product provides a unique and innovative functionality / solution to the problem at hand.

Findability

Findability, within the scope of Quick-UX, values the extent to which a product can be indexed by search engines, as well as bookmarked by its users. Somewhat common with many “ajax-y” websites, the user can interact with the product, the content changes, details are loaded, but the URL stays the same as it was when the user first arrived at the site, or right after logging in. The content presented to the user, in this described scenario, is not only impossible to bookmark, but search engines are not going to be able to uncover the data if they cannot easily associate the found content with its own unique URL.

  • If a website provides an experience that simply cannot be bookmarked, where the URL stays constant throughout the experience, its Findability value is 0.
  • The Findability variable is assigned the value of 0.5 if at least part of the primary functionality of the product allows for bookmarking and search engine indexing.
  • The product achieves a value of 1 for the Findability variable if the ability to bookmark, and distinct URLs, are found to be pervasive.

Credibility

Credibility is critical within an online product. If there is no trust between the user and the product, then the Usefulness of that information becomes questionable. For example, if I am using a product that helps me choose the best bank for my money — the product must clearly communicate its veracity in the matter. In choosing the bank, I not only want to know the facts being provided to me are coming from a reputable source; I want to have confidence, through verification, that the advice is not coming from the very bank that is being recommended.

There are some very basic measures of Credibility that can be easily and quickly determined for Quick-UX, as well as in the broader and ever changing world of online products. The Credibility variable is assigned its value much like the Product Differentiation variable – via summation. The minimum value of Credibility is 0, or none. The Credibility variable adds…

  • 0.15 if no obvious typos are found throughout the product,
  • 0.175 if email contact information is provided,
  • 0.175 if telephone contact information is provided,
  • 0.25 if a physical address for the location of the business is provided,
  • 0.125 if there is an “About Us” page that contains bios about the members of the team behind the product, and
  • 0.125 if, on the “About Us” page, alongside the Bios, direct contact information to each of the individuals listed can be found.

Quick & Useful

Taken all together, these variables (Functional Expectations, Error Management, Product Differentiation, Findability, and Credibility) represent the Usefulness category of Quick-UX for the evaluated product. When looking at an entire product, the question “Should I use it?” represents only 1 of the 3 core components (Usability, Usefulness, Desirability) of a Quick-UX evaluation – a sure-fire, rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy