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All You Need to Know About UX Research

March 5th, 2018 by

Research is a crucial aspect in any industry that offers products, services and/or applications. As user experience (UX) designers, we should ask questions, take notes, learn everything about our target audience and then repeatedly test our work during the design process to ensure we create something that is fit for purpose.

UX research helps us to accept or reject our hypotheses and find similarities across our target audience members. Moreover, recognising their needs, goals and mental models, research helps the designer to understand and endorses their decisions.

A Deeper Insight

UX research or design research includes a variety of analytical methods used to add context and vision to the design process. Research in UX is not exclusive to its field, however, it usually transforms from other forms of research. Thus, UX designers and practitioners use many techniques from market researchers, academics and others, while there is research unique to the UX world as well.

We can divide UX research methods into two different categories of quantitative and qualitative:

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is the form of research that we use to measure aspects numerically. For example, you should ask questions such as: “How many people clicked on this element?” or “What percentage of users are able to find call to action?” This helps us to understand what is happening on a website or app.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research, on the other hand, is also known as “soft research”. It quite simply helps us to understand why people do the things they do. The common question here is; why did users not see or interact with the call to action and what else did people notice on the page instead?

Useful Methodologies

There are different types of UX research ranging from in-person interviews to unmoderated A/B tests which originate from observation, understanding and analysis.

Observation

Observing the world is the first step in the research process. Inexperienced researchers need to learn how to see the world around them.

You may think that observation is a simple task but in reality, it can be very subjective. Hence why the good designer always takes notes so that they can find interesting trends across diverse groups.

Understanding

Understanding is very similar to observation, it is something that we do all of the time in our daily lives. We try to understand our families, friends and colleagues, and sometimes we even try to find the point of debate or unfamiliar concepts. However, for UX designers, understanding is more related to mental models rather than disagreements.

Analysis

Finally, we must look at the analysis, this is where we must delve deeper into our research as it can be very informative and valuable for the design. However, in order to derive an insight from the research in the design, it should be analysed and presented to a larger team. Analysis helps UX researchers to discover trends and find solutions while making recommendations on how to improve.

How Can We Help?

Ballyhoo have all the skills needed to help identify and improve UX issues and can work with you to improve your user interaction and experience. We are passionate about web design and have been working with companies big and small for nearly a decade to produce high-quality websites with a focus on design, function and accessibility.

If you’d like to discuss things further or find out more information, then please feel free to contact us on 0121 295 5352, email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk or fill out the contact form on our contact page.

Opening the Doors to Longbridge Device Lab

December 22nd, 2014 by

On 15th December 2014, Ballyhoo opened the doors to Longbridge Device Lab. We held a launch event to allow guests to see what the lab is all about and how beneficial it is for responsive design.

The Longbridge Device Lab is Birmingham’s first open device lab located in the Innovation Centre in Longbridge Technology Park. It holds many devices ranging from smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers and is the perfect place to test responsive websites so your clients can gain the very best outcome.

The Launch Event

The launch event was held in the lab itself, we had a large turnout of guests including local business owners and web developers as well as recognisable Longbridge faces like the senior development surveyor at St Modwen, Mike Murray, local Councillor Ian Cruise and the Innovation Centre assistant manager, Kimberly Pace.

A Short Presentation

Anthony, Ballyhoo’s Managing Director, carried out a short presentation to explain what the device lab is and its purpose for those who were unfamiliar with the concept. We followed this with a live demonstration of the lab in action, showing guests how responsive websites can be viewed across multiple devices. We then gave guests the opportunity to try using the lab to test their own websites and take a look at the smartphones and tablets that have been donated so far.

We are extremely pleased with how well the launch event went and we’re very proud to have brought you the first open device lab in Birmingham. 2015 will be an important year for us but hopefully in 12 months time we’ll be in a strong position with hundreds of devices and have many familiar faces using the device lab.

We Are Taking Appointments

As well as using the lab in-house to test the responsive websites we’re building, we also need bodies through the door to try the lab first-hand and let us know if there’s anything we can do to improve it and make it an essential asset to your team.

Whether you’re ready to test a website or are just curious as to what it’s all about, please make an appointment to visit the lab. We are currently open during standard working hours (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) but we can extend these if needed.

To make an appointment please visit the Longbridge Device Lab appointment page or contact Ballyhoo today on 0121 295 5352 or email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk.

Why We’ll Continue to Test in IE7

April 2nd, 2013 by

Or, to be more precise, perhaps that title should read Why We’ll Continue to Test in IE7… For the Moment.

IE7 (Internet Explorer 7) causes us more than a few headaches. It’s a buggy browser with it’s own way of doing things (which is probably why there are now no less than 3 newer versions of this browser!) and fixing issues inherent to IE7 alone costs us valuable time on nearly every project. Suffice to say we’d like to drop it sooner rather than later.

But we can’t. We have to pay attention to current browser statistics and consider who will be accessing the websites we build and through what browser.

There are many different browser statistic resources on the internet (unfortunately none of which will ever be a completely true representation of global browser usage) and every month we review the most recently published statistics to see how things currently stand. We take note of the trends and figures but typically there’s not much to talk about, we see each browser’s popularity waxing or waning (pretty much every browser is taking a back seat to Google Chrome at the moment) and we move on.

How The Browser Scene Has Changed

Internet Explorer Firefox Chrome Safari Opera
W3Schools 13.5% 29.6% 50.0% 4.1% 1.8%
StatCounter 29.8% 21.3% 37.0% 8.6% 1.2%
Wikimedia 23.4% 18.7% 41.9% 3.0% 3.4%
W3Counter 26.6% 19.7% 29.3% 15.4% 2.4%
Clicky 34.6% 21.4% 33.1% 9.5% 1.2%
NetApplications 55.8% 20.1% 16.3% 5.4% 1.8%
AVERAGE 30.6% 21.8% 34.6% 7.7% 2.0%

February 2013 Desktop Browser Statistics

It’s interesting to see how the habits of internet users are changing. It’s important to note that these statistics may not reflect the browsers used to access your website (you can see this data in your Google Analytics account, and ultimately the browsers used to access your website should be your priority) but, with more and more people aware that they have a choice of browser, they can be used as a benchmark.

W3Schools themselves have a small disclaimer on site, noting how the browser statistics they publish are a reflection of their visitors only:

Note: W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use the browser that comes pre-installed with their computer, and do not seek out other browser alternatives.

Tip: Global averages may not be relevant to your web site. Different sites attract different audiences. Some web sites attract professional developers using professional hardware, while other sites attract hobbyists using old computers.

If we take W3Schools as an example, they have been monitoring their global browser usage since 2002 so over a decade of statistics are available for our analysis. Way back in 2002 Internet Explorer was the main player, although there really wasn’t much choice for internet surfers at the time – anyone remember AOL or Netscape? With the introduction of newer, more reliable browsers over the years it’s been a downhill slide for IE who are now lumbering in with just a 13.5% share, and that’s divided across versions 6 through 10 of their browser.

Early versions of Internet Explorer were notoriously buggy (yes IE6, I mean you) so thank goodness for some new browsers arriving on the scene. Firefox, with a current share of 29.6%, started to gain prominence in 2005 with its popularity peaking at the notable figure of 47.9% in July 2009. Opera and Safari meanwhile were introduced to the market across 2006 and 2007 but have never really made much of a dent, hovering around 4% and 2% respectively for some years now.

The real success story here is Google Chrome though. Since it’s launch in late 2008 this browser has stormed up the charts, steadily pulling users away from other browsers, to impressively achieve a whopping 50% share of W3Schools browser access last month (coincidentally about the same share Internet Explorer had when Chrome was launched) and this dominance is also reflected in the other stat counters in the table above.

Annual Browser Statistics from W3Schools

To Test Or Not To Test

What mainly caught our attention in February 2013’s browser stats was the indication that Internet Explorer 7’s share has really started to dip (below 1% in W3Schools’ case).

February’s statistics also reveal that Internet Explorer 10’s share of the market is increasing rapidly. This browser’s share is only going to rise as people buy new PCs or upgrade their existing installations so adding IE10 to our testing procedure is a no-brainer.

The real dilemma is deciding when to take IE7 off the books.

It’s tough deciding when to drop a browser from your testing procedure and it’s a decision we don’t take lightly. After all, we want every site we build to be as accessible as possible and ultimately look and function the way it was intended to when it was designed.

Research into browser habits on some of the most popular sites we manage reveals that on many the proportion of visitors accessing the site through Internet Explorer 7 is as much as 2.1% – around Opera’s average.

Our Decision

In the end it’s been an incredibly tough decision – really, we’d like nothing more than to give IE7 the boot – but for the moment we’re going to continue to thoroughly test every website we build in Internet Explorer 7. If there’s any potential for our customers to lose business due to their site being poorly rendered in this browser then it’s important enough for us to go the extra mile.

We will, however, keep a close eye on the situation over 2013 until we can say without any doubt that it’s safe to drop IE7.

Sage Pay Test Credit Card Numbers

March 6th, 2013 by

This is a list of the SagePay test credit card numbers you can use to test transactions in SagePay Server test mode and SagePay Form test mode.

For all of our e-commerce website projects we always recommend SagePay as the payment gateway our customers should use. We have even integrated SagePay Server and SagePay Form with our e-commerce system Ballyhoo Commerce.

When we build a new e-commerce site, or we release a new version of our e-commerce system, we need to put through a test card transaction to ensure the payment process works seamlessly. We do this using the SagePay Test Server.

We’ve compiled the following list of SagePay test credit card numbers from the SagePay website. This is really for our own records as we use the SagePay credit card numbers frequently but feel free to use them yourself.

There are many different test credit card numbers available to use with the SagePay test server and at each stage you must ensure you enter the numbers and other details required correctly – failure to do so will return a Not Matched message.

SagePay Test Credit Cards

Card Type SagePay Card Name Card Number Issue Number
Visa VISA 4929000000006 n/a
Visa Delta (Debit) DELTA 4462000000000003 n/a
Visa Electron UK Debit UKE 4917300000000008 n/a
Mastercard MC 5404000000000001 n/a
UK Maestro MAESTRO 5641820000000005 n/a
International Maestro MAESTRO 300000000000000004 n/a
American Express AMEX 374200000000004 n/a
Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) JCB 3569990000000009 n/a
Diners Club DC 36000000000008 n/a
Laser Cards LASER 6304990000000000044 n/a
  • Expiry Date: any date in the future
  • CV2: 123
  • Billing Address: 88 (you only have to use this on the first line)
  • Billing Postcode: 412
  • 3D Secure Password: password

Please note that these Sage Pay test card numbers cannot be used on the live server, where a real debit or credit card must be used to put through a test transaction.

Web Design For The Playstation 3 Browser

August 26th, 2009 by

We recently received an enquiry from a client asking if their e-commerce store built on the Ballyhoo Commerce software would operate on the Playstation 3 browser. A little research gave very little insight into the specification of the browser distributed with the PS3 so we ran some tests of our own. We thought we’d share our findings as they may help others.

Internet Explorer 6 Behaviours

Firstly we noticed that the browser was not managing fixed positioning in CSS, a trait that is famously associated with Internet Explorer 6. We set up a test page which uses conditional statements

If you visit our test page on the PS3 browser, you will find it responds to the conditional statement for Internet Explorer 6. So, if you are keen for your site to render correctly on the PS3 you must work around all the peculiarities associated with Internet Explorer 6.

Javascript Support

There is a certain level of support for Javascript in the PS3 browser. Our e-commerce software uses AJAX requests in several areas and this functions perfectly on the PS3 as well as various simple scripts. However, we also used the Scriptaculous Javascript Library to provide some animation effects and drag-and-drop functionality in places. This does not work and at times has caused the PS3 to lock up completely. For now we have simply allowed our clients to disable this advanced functionality if they wish to support PS3 users.