Lucy has years of experience, both from agency side and client side in the development and improvement of not only e-commerce sites, but also SaaS platforms. She uses this background to create experiences that inspire confidence from users and aids them, in a seamless way, to follow digital journeys and get the most out of each digital interaction.
You'll hear Lucy talk about the importance of design when creating exceptional customer experiences and how the rise of mobile has changed the customer expectation plus how it's our job to meet what the customer is looking for.
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On this episode of 15 minutes with we're talking to Lucy Aitken, UI UX designer with booking.com. Lucy has years of experience, both from agency side and client side in the development and improvement of not only ecommerce sites, but also saas platforms. You'll hear Lucy talk about the importance of design when creating exceptional customer experiences and how the rise of mobile has changed the customer expectation and how it's our job to meet what the customer is looking for. Hey, Lucy, welcome to the podcast.Lucy Aitken:
Hi, Graham, hi, Shelly. Nice to speak to you today.Graham:
Yeah, and you. So can you tell us a little bit about how important is design to the customer experience.Lucy Aitken:
So I am obviously a designer. So I'm going to say it's hugely important to customer experience, it's quite often the first thing that users see, or the last thing that they remember, whenever they have an interaction with a website or your product, it's very visual, something that can evoke a bit of an emotional reaction sometimes. So yeah, it's super important, not just how it looks, but also how it functions and everything that kind of backs that up. But that design is the first thing that they're really going to interact with, when your brand is kind of putting themselves out there.Graham:
So when we talk about digital design, what are the different types or what are the things that you need to consider when you're putting together design for a digital experience?Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, so I think one of the big things to think about is how and what medium your users are going to be interacting with your websites and products through? So is it going to be a desktop? Is it a mobile device, a tablet? Or is it potentially you know, like the dashboard of a car, it really is that broad of a range of sort of interfaces that users interact with. And I think most importantly, in sort of ecommerce and sales world at the moment is that mobile interface, it's just been increasing in popularity of how many users like are using mobile devices and smaller screens to access websites. So it's a real area that you should be focusing your design and experience on.Graham:
And that is interesting, because we've seen or we've heard that there's going to be a large uptake, in live commerce and live commerce essentially, is really using social in a way to put the purchasing journey into a video. And I've seen really good versions of that, where it happens all within itself. And I've seen really terrible versions of that, where you're watching the video, you click Buy and sends you to a website and you lose the video that you're watching. So yeah, it is it's incredibly important to kind of understand, like you say, where the person is doing, what they're doing, and ultimately what you want them to do.Shelley:
Lucy, you were talking about the various different devices that experiences now need to adapt to. And it's varied. You know, what you said about car screens? I mean, that makes so much sense. Increasingly, we're seeing people engaging with brands and digital experiences through car screens. It's not just mobile, it's not just desktop, how do you, as a designer, adapt these experiences to fit on all of these different devices to fit on all of these different screens?Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, so there's a few different ways that it can be done. So I think traditionally, and probably the most common way of working that most people have heard of is that responsive design. So taking what you have on your website, and making sure that each component, each section responds down to smaller and smaller screen sizes, until you have it potentially in a stacked view or something like that on a mobile device. But I think as we've seen that shift away from desktop, and into these smaller devices, what's really important when you think about that experience now is looking at your data, how many customers are accessing, they're accessing your site on a mobile device, I think like Graham mentioned, talking about like social selling people coming straight through from Instagram or Facebook ads, whether we're looking at ads potentially on their mobile device and coming straight through to your website on a mobile. Once you know that that traffic is maybe something like 70% mobile 30% desktop, you want to start thinking about something called progressive enhancement, also known as adaptive design. And what that basically means is starting with the small screens, the mobile devices first and scaling up that experience to a desktop device. And you can do that in a few different ways. You could do it by focusing about what the most important needs of those mobile users are and making sure that you have all of the features and all of the experiences and the content that they want to see on the screen. And then as you scale that up if there's anything additional that you wanted to add that wasn't important at a mobile level, you can begin to add those additional details to the desktop designs as you move up the screen size. But really, the main thing is to focus all of your attention on those mobile devices. And if that means potentially something like a shopping cart looks entirely different on a mobile device, it's not just a small version of the desktop device actually has a different functionality. Maybe it scrolls vertically, it doesn't have anything next to it, you know, the layout could be entirely different. And after it gets to a certain screen size that changes completely, rather than being those traditional same components just laid out in a different order that we've we've seen more commonly.Shelley:
That makes perfect sense, because when I think of responsive design, whether it's the right, you know, definition, I suppose but when I think of it, that's exactly what I think of as when you you know, you make it you minimise a little tab, and it sort of is the same thing that you're seeing, it just gets smaller. But it makes perfect sense that we need to think about design now in new ways that actually completely changes, depending on what what device that you're using. And does that link in with the whole accessibility conversation, you know, how different people are using different devices in different ways, because actually, their needs as an individual are completely different.Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, definitely. I think one thing that we often think about is the touch points that we have on mobile devices. So you know, if you're accessing a desktop, you're maybe using a trackpad or a mouse to do that, with a very precise point that you can click on different buttons, different fields, whereas when you're on a mobile, you've got your fingers and your thumbs. And we go a little bit further than that, even and think about actually the size of those people's hands. Where can they reach? Are they holding their phone in one hand? Do they have a coffee in the other hand? You know, there's so many variables. And that's why really drilling down to understand your users. So if you know that actually, this is something that's going to be accessed by children, or it's something that's predominantly accessed by women or men or somewhere you can break that down, you can start to then think about, can these people reach that top right hand corner of the screen? Or should we make sure that anything that needs to be touched is lower down towards the bottom of the screen?Graham:
So that's all great stuff. And for companies that are wanting to look at that and change and take some of these things on? Is it a throw everything out and start again? Or is there a way to kind of do it in a piecemeal approach and which is better for your for the end user? Really,Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, so especially if you've got a quite a loyal base of customers, you know that you've got a lot of returning visitors to your website, and you make a big bang change on to your mobile experience, it's more than likely that it's not going to go down too well, with your users, people are a little bit resistant to change, even if it is something that you think is going to benefit them in the long term, if they've been used to using something a certain way. And now they have to relearn it all at once, that can cause a lot of friction. So the best approach is to do small, iterative changes. The other great thing about this is you're going to get a lot of insight from actually which change worked, which changed didn't and that's just going to build and build till you have this experience that is constantly evolving. And you can keep and discard those changes and in how well they work.Graham:
And I guess the real advice here is don't be afraid to try new things, right? Because as you say, if it doesn't work, you can always turn it back.Lucy Aitken:
Exactly, definitely. And there's no such thing as like a failing test. If you are doing like A/B experiments, they are all just learnings. They're all insight. So from doing that, you're going to constantly be getting great insights from your users that you can bring into the next sort of experience that you want to put out there.Shelley:
So it's all about constant refinement, then I guess you could say. Intuitive design Lucy, is it safe to say that that actually isn't always the case that it's necessarily intuitive, but perhaps it's just what people are used to?Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, so I think there's a really sort of strong argument for using what users are familiar with. I think as creatives we always want to push outside of the box, do something new, something that other competitors aren't doing. But actually what might be the best experience for your users is using something that they're familiar with, so that they don't have to relearn how to fill out a form or make a payment. If it's something that they know how to do. They've already spent the time learning and understanding that process. If you throw in a curveball, even though you think it may be a better experience, ultimately, it can start to fall down because it's just not what users are used to seeing. And I think that just touches again on the idea of testing and doing those small, iterative changes. Just so that if you have really tested and worked really hard and think that you found a solution that is better than what's out there at the moment, there's a little bit of a learning curve to get the users on board with this new idea. And yeah, and getting used to this new and better experience, I think, to think of like mobiles, for example, when we are when we all first had mobile phones, we were very used to actual physical buttons to click everything. And there was a real transition period where we moved over into touchscreens. And I remember there was back before the iPhone came around those the touchscreens where you actually had to physically apply pressure to sort of generate interactions on the device that was a little bit sticky had quite a lot of friction with it. And it didn't at one point, it didn't seem like it was going to take off people were like, Nah, I'll stick to my Blackberry. But now I don't think I know a single person who doesn't have a sort of touchscreen mobile device.Graham:
And I guess some of the things you also need to consider is what other companies are doing, for instance, Apple Pay, right? You don't want to try and reinvent that experience, because Apple have defined what that experience is. And your job as a designer, it should be to integrate it in and make it familiar, because it's what people are expecting.Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, definitely. And I think unless you are potentially like Microsoft, or Google and you are at that level, where they are a direct competitor, the best thing for you is to use those integrations, the users are familiar with it, they trust those brands, it's already there, it's on their phone, and it just makes a nice smooth process. When you're making payments.Shelley:
How do businesses tread that line? How do they know? Alright, these are the bits that we copy, we mimic like you said, if it's a really big company, then obviously you just integrate it. But on a smaller level. How do they know when it comes to peer to peer competition? Do we recreate this and we go down the creative route, which has its attractions, but also it has its risks? How do you walk that line?Lucy Aitken:
Yeah. So I mean, you'll get bored of me saying that I sound like a broken record. But I think doing A/B testing and finding out those insights with real users or doing user testing and speaking to your users with maybe one or two solutions to sort of test the waters, see how that's working. But there's also loads of great resources out there already. So there's a website that I quite often like to take a look at called GoodUI. And on there, they will do reviews of tests that large organisations like Airbnb, Amazon, those big names, they'll publish results of tests that they've tried. So you can look at common design patterns and see what's one, what's worked for them. So you can use that as inspiration for your designs and your website.Shelley:
That is fantastic. So actually businesses and to anyone listening you they can use that resource to actually go and have a look at what current best practices based on what other companies are reporting in their experimentation. I think that is fabulous. And your advice is actually to dip a toe in the water to try these things. But to do it on a smaller scale.Lucy Aitken:
Yeah, definitely. So go out there, especially if you have got competitors that you think aren't doing as well as you in the digital space. Or maybe they are and you want to go and see what they're doing. See how you can apply that for your business. I mean, nothing is just a copy and paste because the people that are visiting your website are probably going to be different to the users on another site at but as long as you test those ideas, get some ideas of best practice, then you can't go wrong.Graham:
So are you noticing any trends or anything that's kind of coming up that you think people should kind of be looking at a little bit deeper?Lucy Aitken:
I think mobile trends is something to definitely keep an eye on. Just a kind of interesting thing that I've been looking at over the sort of the last two years now, I suppose is how that desktop and mobile market share has changed. So sort of for the last 10 years, when iPhones were released, we just saw a constant upwards trend for more and more users using mobiles. But around March, April in 2020, actually, for the first time we saw in the UK that just completely dipped and desktop actually started increasing in the number of users using that again, it was still up on the year before, but it had kind of had a big impact what was going on in the world. And we did see more and more users switching back to desktop as they were spending more time at home. And then if you follow the graph, that's really interesting, because you'll see that when the lockdowns end, we see users picking their mobile phones back up, they're out and about and then subsequently, when another lockdown came into play. We saw that kind of switch over again, it's quite a small amount really, in terms of the overall numbers but it is just something interesting to keep an eye on. And then in terms of other technology that's out there. I think searching by voice, a lot of like voice interactions and searching by image and the sort of new technologies coming out around those spaces is something to watch out for. So yeah, Google's obviously been doing search by voice for a long time. But I think it's becoming quite familiar with users now. So is that time where you can start to think about can I put VR on my website is there's some sort of AR that I could be doing or searching by voice or some sort of image recognition.Shelley:
Thank you so much for your time, Lucy, it has been an absolute pleasure and an eye opener and we can't wait to have you back to answer all of the questions that I'm sure will come out of today's podcast.Lucy Aitken:
Great. Thank you for having me. That was Lucy Aitkin, UI UX designer with booking.com.Graham:
Thank you. Creating an experience that adapts to the user's device, rather than adjusting to the size of their screen creates an exceptional customer experience that allows you to stand out from the crowd. Small iterative change allows your users to adapt with a new design at a pace that suits them, rather than forcing them to have to relearn the entire customer journey. It also gives your business the opportunity to gather insights and continuously learn to understand exactly what changes you're making work for your customer base. Thanks for joining us for this episode of 15 minutes with and we look forward to having you along on the next one.