Inside the Mind of Strategic Designer, Chase Farrell

Ever wondered who takes the big ideas at Roboboogie and makes them into real, living things? Meet Strategic Designer, Chase Farrell. This month, he was kind enough to sit down and tell us a little about what he does.

How do you describe what you do?

I like to view it as bringing our client experiences to life — whatever stage an idea is in. If a project is in the beginning strategic phase where it only exists as a concept, I help build out what that experience could look like using wireframes to represent a visual hierarchy. If a project already has a structure and we need to get it ready to live in the real world, I help create the design by applying brand aesthetics as well as using the latest trends and best practices to get it to where it needs to be.

Beyond being a talented strategic designer, Chase loves to get outside and explore the beautiful PNW in his free time.

What are the most satisfying parts of your role?

I love being able to apply my skills and experience to solve problems, but the magic for me is when a client or team member lights up with excitement over a solution I’ve provided. It feels super empowering to utilize modern tech to create best-in-class experiences (whether that’s a full landing page design or even something as simple as creating a custom emoji to add to our slack channel), so when the stars align and everyone is high-fiving over the final product, I’m a happy camper.

What made you want to work in design?

There’s a sweet spot with creativity that allows you to make something that feels just beyond what you theoretically should be able to do given the available resources — whether it’s tools, skills, or experience (i.e. fake it til you make it). I fell in love with design because for me it’s a continuous journey where I can keep improving while constantly trying to outpace myself along the way. When I intentionally challenge myself to create something that’s a step ahead of where I currently am, I end up learning something that moves me forward — just in time for me to set my sights on the next best thing.

What is a design-related skill you feel you’ve improved on the most recently?

The past few months I’ve felt a big improvement in my ability to deliver quality work in a shorter amount of time using systems-based thinking. A wise person once told me the difference between a professional and an amateur is that they both can arrive at a beautiful final product, but the professional does it in a fraction of the time. I’ve really focused on leveraging systems throughout the creative process which allows me to save an enormous amount of time in the end. A good example of this is setting up components in XD which allows me to make changes in one spot and have it automatically be applied to multiple other instances.

Utilizing systems-based thinking and standardizing similar objects saves a ton of time across the life of a project. When I do this I save time not only for myself by staying within the guardrails of my design, but I also have the added benefit of knowing when I hand off a design to development that I’ve already put in a little bit of thinking as to how the experience will be built. This tiny bit of effort helps make their job easier by eliminating guesswork and unnecessary redundancies. Work smarter not harder, y’all!

What are your favorite online resources (news, blogs, tools) and why?

For those leisurely strolls through inspiration alley, I like the Muzli chrome plugin. This converts your “New Tab” screen into a dashboard of curated content. Mine is loaded with everything from visual inspiration such as noteworthy projects on Behance or Dribble, to industry news about emerging technologies that have an impact on our industry or the tools I use on a daily basis.

For dedicated research into best-in-class experiences, I love taking a spin through Awwwards. Granted, there’s a heavy bias towards form-over-function which is a big no-no when it comes to proper user experience, but I love being able to read between the lines of what makes an experience great and using that insight to drive my creative approach for client experiences.

For those times I need to learn more about a given topic, I try googling the phrase and adding Medium.com in order to dive into long-form articles that may help me form a perspective around a new topic.

What is a key element of user-centric design that you would advise others to always look out for/pay attention to?

I think a critical piece of user-centric design is maintaining a consideration of convenience for the user throughout your design. Convenience is one of those things we intuitively seek out but don’t necessarily recognize until we encounter something inconvenient. With that in mind, designers should always be on the lookout for small ways to include convenience in order to reduce friction across the experience. A great example of this is with a popup modal. Give the user multiple options of closing out the modal such as the classic ‘X’ up in the corner, a decline / no thanks button underneath your primary CTA, and last but most important — make the surrounding area around the modal be clickable so the user can “click out of” the modal.

What is some advice you would have for someone who is new to letting data drive their design process?

Check your ego at the door and accept what message the data is trying to convey! Very rarely will a designer be an exact match for the target demographic, so that means any personal opinion about what needs to happen with the design should come secondary to what the data is telling you. In fact, you should get excited about the story the data is telling you — you’re being handed a cheat code for how to approach an experience because you have statistical data backing up the decisions you need to make.

Puppy tales. When he’s not delivering phenomenal strategic design, Chase values spending time with his pup and tending to his garden.

Why should people care about good design?

People should care about good design because truly good design should theoretically never be noticed. The design should be built and executed so well that the user is completely engulfed in the experience and doesn’t even notice anything outside the intention of the design. Sometimes a design can be too good — amazing — in which it pulls the user away from the actual intention of the design due to the spectacle and appreciation for the design itself. Ironically, for that reason, those “amazing design” experiences are actually not as great as good design.

What’s been your favorite part of working at an agency that focuses on customer-centric design?

I love working with customer-centric design because as an average Joe myself, I find the work relatable and rewarding when done correctly. We’ve all encountered frustrating user experiences so the idea that I can contribute in some small way that helps people achieve their goals faster, easier, and with more enjoyment is really exciting to me — whether those goals are starting a new fitness journey, saving the Earth, or simply ordering a can of dog food.

I also just love having the support network of an amazing team of talented individuals who share common values. For several years I’ve had a cheesy professional mantra that I live by which is, “Do good work for good people”, but after joining Roboboogie I officially amended that to be, “Do good work for good people, with good people.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but dang, it feels good.

Roboboogie: Looking Back on a Decade of Success

John Gentle had an idea. 

“I thought it would be cool to rent a space,” he said in a recent interview, “and bring together a talented group of freelancers who could collaborate on projects and create a business development engine, outsourcing work to the people in the space.”

“I think WeWork does have that model now,” John added, laughing. “But that was kind of the grandiose vision for an agency early on when I was still freelancing.”

Meet John Gentle, “Roboboogie’s visionary founder and fearless leader who runs on digital strategy and chocolate chip cookies”.

It was 2011 and WeWork was just getting off the ground on the other side of the country. In Portland, John was creating a person-centered collective that would soon transform into an agency with a focus on putting the customer at the forefront of the design narrative. In the 10 years since John, who grew up in Rochester, New York, decided to create the company, it has gone from a one-man operation to a consultancy with 20 employees and plans to hire more.

He named the company Roboboogie.

“I’m really fascinated with this idea of left and right brain thinking,” John said, of the sometimes inscrutable name. “Frankly it’s gotten mixed reviews at times,” he added. “It’s hard to say. There’s tension there which I like.” John continues, explaining the philosophy behind the name. “Robo is the technology and the boogie is the creative,” he explained. “So over time we’ve adapted it to our position now, which is more around bringing data and design together.”

“It also came from the opportunity that I saw for an agency to provide better customer service,” he said. “I wanted to do something memorable and a little more playful but still deliver best in class service to my clients.” With that, John got busy working out the kinks in his plan. For one thing, he was realizing that maybe they would need a team, specifically operationally-minded individuals to help organize the chaos. So in 2014, he hired Jedidiah Fugle, an entrepreneurial-minded freelance creative producer, and transplant from Northern California, to help put some processes and organization in place.

Meet Jedidiah Fugle, the “Operations mastermind and legendary team-builder with a habit of maximizing efficiency everywhere he goes (especially the airport).”

“I quickly loved the collaborative approach and this idea of bringing teams together to do big things in a people-centric way,” Jed said. He thought Roboboogie’s approach was different from the revolving door he saw at many Portland agencies. “This idea of, ‘Let’s really build around people,’” Jed said, “that was really what made me stick and go, ‘This is something I want to be a part of and help build.’”

John said that when Jed joined the team, he “really just drove it.”

“I was like, “Wow, this guy is partner-level material for sure,’” John recalls.

The two worked well together, agreeing on a people-driven approach when it came to clients and employees. They formalized a partnership in the year that followed, allowing each to lean into their strengths, while charting a path for growth.

From 2015 to 2017, the company grew from two employees to five. By 2019, the size had doubled to 10. By March of 2021, it had doubled again. “In the last two years, we’ve really found our identity,” Jed said. “We had this moment,” he continued, “where it just clicked. This combination of being really strategic and smart where the solutions we’re bringing are design-led, which we’re the best in, but we’re harnessing data and technology to bring a new way to think about solutions.” The market, Jed said, has gone more and more that way. But Roboboogie was a pioneer. 

Now, Roboboogie’s clients include household names like Adobe, NordicTrack, and Impossible Foods. But the same principle — what Jed calls “treating people like people” — guides the business.

John is now the Chief Experience Officer and Jed is the Chief Operating Officer. They both remain passionate about the idea of centering around people. “We have our cultural tenets,” John said. “You start with those values and you try to communicate them and live and breathe them as much as you can in the day to day and then you try to hire people who are comfortable aligning with those values.” For Roboboogie, those values are respect, creativity, passion and courage. Of those, said John, the respect tenant is the most important, for clients and each other.

“I do believe it’s core to that ‘treating people like people’ concept,” John said.

That means creating an environment that prioritizes work-life balance, where employees can excel.  During the pandemic, that hasn’t always been easy. The company has nearly doubled in size in the last year, and the culture has shifted from one of hanging out at their offices in Portland’s Revolution Hall, to remote working and many people who have never been into the office at all. “It’s easy to hide behind this digital wall,” John said. “People are struggling.” Still, they work to bring the playful spirit of Roboboogie to everyone’s homes. Whether it’s a virtual cooking class/magic show or building piñatas to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, John and Jed have not given up on the culture they want.

In the next 10 years, Jed and John see Roboboogie shifting to a premium, customer-centric digital transformation and optimization consultancy, where they pick the clients they want and make sure their employees still benefit from a culture of respect. And while they both plan to keep the company growing, they don’t imagine expanding beyond 50 employees. “We want to be really focused in what we do,” John said, “do a really good job and then provide a nice work-life balance for folks that are really tied into our success as much as we are.”

However the company changes, both agree that keeping people at the center of their mission will remain the same. It’s a mindset that they pioneered and, as they have seen, it works for clients and for employees. They believe it is here to stay and they’re both excited to share the Roboboogie approach with more partners and clients in the decade ahead.

Take a Tour of the Ultimate Holiday Experience

As we begin to slowly shift into spring, we wanted to take a look back at one of our favorite projects from this past holiday season! 

We love spreading cheer year-round here at Robo. The holidays are especially exciting because they give us a great opportunity to send a little fun to our amazing partners and clients

In December 2020, we revealed landing page experience to our clients and partners. The page allowed them to select their hoodie size, enter their mailing address, and select a charity so we could make a donation on their behalf. 

Then, in January, we sent out holiday packages to everyone, which featured our super comfy Roboboogie hoodies — a rare treasure that could once only be found in Portland, OR, but are now spread to various corners of the world, thanks to our partners and clients and their amazing flair for style.

Our Director of Design, Lacie Webb, sat down to take us through the landing page experience from beginning to end, and despite the page being adorned with small elves, it’s exciting to look at any time of the year!

Check out the video below:

Love is in the air: What you need to know before getting involved with an optimization agency

So, you’re exchanging glances with an optimization agency, eh? Flirting with the idea of starting a digital transformation journey? Looking to take your existing optimization or A/B testing program to the next level? 

Nice moves, Casanova!

Partnering with an optimization agency is a great way to jumpstart your digital heart. Engaging experts to get hands-on with optimization strategies,  UX/UI design efforts, A/B testing, and behavioral analytics is not only smart, it’s sexy. It puts the agency’s experience and brainpower by your side and gets your program swinging at a fraction of the time and resource it takes to hire, train and integrate a full optimization team. 

But before you start a vision board of idyllic homesteads, picket fences, and frolicking dogs in the yard, there are a few things you’ll want to examine. Like any good partner, the right agency will support you and help you achieve your goals, but committing to an optimization agency is a big step, worth some upfront conversations and careful considerations. 

Here’s what you should know before tying the knot. 

It’s important your family approves. 

The ups and downs of a strategic digital transformation are not for the faint at heart. You have to be committed to working through a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity as a cohesive team to uncover the real truths about your customer’s needs, and ultimately design what works best for them.

Shifting to a more data-backed, scientific approach requires determination and curiosity not found in every organization. Experimentation requires process changes and a willingness to let go of subjective decision making that might be years in the making and deeply rooted in company culture. 

While you will likely see some quick wins, A/B testing and conversion rate optimization aren’t just quick fixes or immediate solutions. It takes commitment over time and consistent close collaboration across all disciplines including brand, marketing, product, design, and engineering. 

There needs to be an openness to collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a willingness to support each other with the blend of talents that yields the best results. Find a partner who compliments your team.

So, call the family meeting, announce your intentions, let everyone voice their concerns, come up with an inclusive plan, and show off your ‘Never Stop Optimizing’ tattoo. 

You’re gonna need some help. 

Unlike a newly-married couple, you and your new agency partner are unlikely to be gifted a toaster, silverware, or something you’ll actually need, like a digital experience analytics platform. Until that becomes the norm, you’ll want to do some budgeting and due-diligence while selecting the necessary technologies. 

When it comes to A/B testing and optimization, there are a lot of options out there and you’ll likely have some very specific needs. If you haven’t identified an A/B testing tool yet, that should be the near top of your registry. Tools like AB Tasty, Google Optimize, and Optimizely are amongst the most popular and scale well as your needs expand. 

Along with a testing platform, you’ll also want to consider analytics tools, data visualization platforms, and logging tools to help ensure you have the best data available to make optimization decisions. There is a variety of tools and technologies available ranging widely in cost and complexity. 

Lean into the experience of your agency partner to help identify the best fit. They will likely have intimate knowledge of these tools, and most will be into having an open relationship. 

Set your intentions. 

Clear intentions and mutual goal setting are cornerstones of any successful relationship. With digital transformation, both agency and client need to be in it to win it. So, be open and clear about business goals, priorities and engagement needs, and logistics.

Any optimization agency worth partnering with should also come with clear intentions to make you successful. Their evaluation of your current digital experience should be objective and honest — a product of both data insights and experience design assessment. They should not only identify, but qualify opportunities and be intentional about an actionable plan to transform the experience with some quick wins and a clear path for long-term success. 

With clear goals and intentions, and a mutual commitment to the plan, together you will be unstoppable and your PDA uncomfortable to those around you. 

Look beyond the honeymoon phase.

It’s exciting to start a new relationship! During the first few months of your partnership, you’re likely to see improvements coming in big swings, addressing the glaring issues that might have been staring you in the face for weeks…or months…or years. So what do you do when the endorphins wear off and you’ve got to dig a little deeper to find those bigger wins? 

Frequent re-evaluations and goal resetting are critical to long-term success and getting to those harder to reach areas of your site. Leaning on your agency to uncover new opportunities in both your data and in your UX/UI design can reinvigorate your enthusiasm for testing, and unlock new potential. Whether it’s tactical improvements to a sales-generating experience, optimizing cross-sell, upsell, or related products, or testing into a whole new brand or site feature — the opportunities for ongoing optimization are endless for a dynamic digital experience.  

Expect and demand growth. 

Regardless of whether you intend to grow old together, or are looking for a short-term relationship to get your team up and running quickly, growth and accountability for driving success should be central to any agency partnership. 

At Roboboogie, we strive to deliver a 10X return on investment for our clients. When the chemistry is right with clients who are culturally ready for open-to-close collaboration and can bring us into business goal setting and planning conversations, achieving a 10X return is easy. 

So, swipe until you find the best agency fit for your organization, and then be prepared to be a bit vulnerable. Mind these considerations in those relationships and you’ll find reaching and exceeding your optimization goals is easy, rewarding and fun. 

Want to see how Roboboogie can help? Contact matt@teamroboboogie.com.

What digital trends from 2020 will live on into 2021?

It’s finally here — the new year we’ve been anticipating forever, or at least since life was upended by a global pandemic in March. Now, a vaccine is rolling out and maybe, just maybe, this will start to get back to some version of normalcy.

But when it all returns, and we can once again hug our friends or dine together indoors, what from these last tumultuous months will remain?

We asked the Roboboogie team to tell us what trends they think will live on once the pandemic recedes into memory.

Working remote is here to stay.

I’ve long been a believer that optional remote work allows us to be our most productive. Having the ability to go heads down on a large project, without distractions for a few hours produces the best work and no place can offer the isolation of our home office. The one caveat is that too much time away from a team can wreak havoc on company culture and make people feel isolated. There is a sweet spot and it differs for different people. – Jeremy Sell (Director of Technology)

Bye, Bye, Bye, ‘90s design.

No one wants to admit it, but the ‘90s are out, nostalgia-wise. Just like we’re seeing gaudy neons, tiny purses and (god forbid) low-rise jeans making their comebacks, I predict we’ll also see early 2000s web design trends like skeuomorphism, animation, and decidedly non-flat design make their reimagined reentrances in 2021. This year’s design trends will be a y2k-compliant blast from the past! – August Wanner (Jr. Designer)

Emojis. Tell us how you really feel.

One trend I’ve been noticing is the increased usage of emojis in the context of copywriting. Over the past few years, we’ve all drastically shifted the way we communicate (i.e. emojis, gifs, memes) and businesses are simply following suit. Emojis have a unique ability to communicate large amounts of information with a tiny footprint. Not only that, but they also come pre-packaged with additional context of all sorts of cultural connotations. While there are some lazier instances of this (looking at you, poop-emoji products), overall it makes sense that businesses have begun to use emojis and I look forward to seeing some more innovative ways they can be put to use! – Chase Farrell

Fresh produce delivered to your doorstep.

Pre-pandemic, I was in the grocery store every one to two days. I would plan meals one-at-a-time and buy just what I needed. Subscribing to grocery delivery services has changed not only the way I shop but how I cook and what I eat. With weekly groceries being delivered to my door, I have more left-overs that save time cooking and give me food to eat on the go. I am also discovering new foods and always have vegetables in the house, which means I am eating better. I imagine there are a lot of folks also making this shift and feeling the benefits of home grocery delivery. Thanks, COVID-19 and Imperfect Foods! – John

As we move on into 2021, the team at Roboboogie is here to help make sure your customers are having the best experience on your site possible. Even if there comes a point where they no longer need to shop online, they will still want to.

Want to find out what we can do for your business? Contact Matt.

Building an ROI-Driven Testing Plan at AB Tasty’s 2020 Virtual Summit

On December 10th, 2020, the Roboboogie team presented as part of AB Tasty’s US Digital Summit: The Future of Experience Optimization. This year’s event embraced the 2020 shift to virtual events and the host and presenters highlighted the acceleration of digital optimization. Topics included personalization, identifying growth opportunities, and of course, our topic, Building an ROI-Driven Testing Plan

Behind the scenes in preparation for the event, we worked with a fantastic team at AB Tasty including Matt Filios VP Global Alliances and Mary Kate Cash Senior Manager, Partner Marketing. At Roboboogie, we have a long history of hosting in-person events and love meeting with passionate data and design pros in real life, we couldn’t have been happier with the personal connection and professionalism with which they handled the entire event from preparation to day-of execution. 

Building an ROI-Driven Testing Plan

This event was an opportunity for us to share an actionable approach to building a smart testing and optimization plan where design and data work together. What better way to do that the bring an expert from our data team, Optimization Strategist Tyler Hudson and an expert from our design team, Design Director Lacie Webb. Tyler and Lacie have helped architect our approach to measuring the impact of great design with data, while also using qualitative and quantitative data to improve customer experiences. 

Joined by our moderator, founder, and CXO John Gentle, the team walked through a five-step process designed to create a data-backed and ROI driven approach to testing – looking at the design perspective, the data perspective, and the organizational perspective. As John put it in the presentation,we have made the shift from “Design and Hope ™”  to a data-backed “Test and Optimize” approach to design and digital transformation. 

  • Understand your audience
  • Define your CX vision
  • Audit your current CX
  • Prioritize opportunities
  • Evolve your program

Along with the presentations, we had great audience questions and participation at the close. For instance, you might be curious as to whether or not the whole process we outlined is specific to users of AB Tasty – the good news is that the approach and methodology are technology agnostic – though using great technology and having reliable data is crucial to your program’s success. 

Evolving your “Test and Optimize” Program

If you’re interested in learning more about taking a data-backed approach to your digital transformation, you can check out the full 30-minute presentation on LiveStorm by clicking the Register button on AB Tasty’s event page. If you’d like to discuss how Roboboogie can help you implement an ROI-Driven testing plan, send us an email. We’re looking forward to talking with you!

Four Checkout-Flow Problems that are Losing You Money

Fix these four checkout-flow problems and give yourself the gift of no more abandoned carts and lost sales this holiday season

We’ve all been there–browsing the internet aisles while listening in on a work meeting, you see a great holiday gift for Aunt Molly. You add it to your cart and, after a couple of hours debating if it’s the right gift, you decide to pull the trigger and checkout. She’s going to be so thrilled!

Only, there’s a hiccup and gift buying suddenly goes from a joyous occasion to a hassle. The next step isn’t loading, you don’t remember your password or don’t want to create an account, you also aren’t sure if you can ship to one address and bill to another… and where the heck is the complete purchase button?

You love your Aunt Molly but you don’t have all day to figure out a clunky checkout system, so you move on. You take your money to another retailer with a more customer-centric checkout design.

At Roboboogie, it is our mission to optimize eCommerce conversion rates. And one place we frequently start is at checkout. 

Why? Checkout flows contain shoppers who have shown a strong intent to purchase. They’ve added something (or many things) to the cart and have entered the virtual checkout line. We don’t want customers to abandon their carts with their wallets open.


Here are four common user experience issues we see that lead to cart abandonment, and how to fix them, just in time to make sure your products are under the tree.

Issue #1: Requiring users to create an account before checkout begins.

While you might think forcing customers to create an account before they make a purchase is a great opportunity to capture email addresses and gain return-users, for customers, it’s a massive deterrent.

For people trying to fill stockings as quickly as possible, creating an account is a huge time suck wrought with uncertainty around how hard it will be and how long it will take. .

Compound this with holiday cookies in the oven, organizing virtual holiday events, and tracking down a mint-in-box Cabbage Patch Kid and a Furby, and you’ll see your customers don’t have the time to mess around.

There are several other issues with this kind of gatekeeping–if any error happens in the account-making process, your customer could be locked out of their purchase.

Also, when you force a user to do something they don’t want to do, they are less likely to complete a purchase or return.

And finally, forcing users to give up personal information may give them the impression that your company wants to spam them with emails. Another possible reason to not buy from you.

Recommendations:

  • Offer a guest checkout out of the gate, and allow users to log-in if they already have an account.
  • Promote registration on the order confirmation page after they have made a purchase.
  • Instead of forcing the user to create an account, offer an incentive, a promo code or free shipping, these may convince them to happily spend their time creating an account.
This checkout experience forces users to create an account before moving forward with their purchase.
One solution is to start users in a guest checkout, giving them the option to sign in or create an account later in the process.


Issue #2: Asking for too much information.

Your site visitors just want things to be easy. Checkouts are often clunky and ask for a lot of information to complete a purchase. If you have a site that requires booking along with check-out (i.e. travel, appointments, scheduled delivery, etc.), or you offer a lot of payment options like financing or alternative payment methods such as PayPal and Google Pay, things start to feel even more daunting. Cramming all of this information into as few steps as possible to make it seem “shorter” will only make things worse.

As an alternative, you can segment the steps of your checkout to make the process feel manageable instead of daunting. It may feel counterintuitive to space your checkout into multiple steps, but the result can make the entire process much more pleasant and logical for your customer. 

Recommendations:

  • Split the information into categories and then use those categories to create multiple steps. This can even happen on single-page checkouts – space information out in meaningful, intentional ways.
  • Reduce the amount of information you require. Less is definitely more in the case of checkouts. Users want it to be as quick as possible. Edit out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary (Do you really need their middle initial?). You can always ask for additional options for information after the sale.
This experience presents A LOT of information all in a single view with little hierarchy. CX analysis shows that users are more likely to abandon this type of experience.
This experience separates the information in each step so users can focus on inputting information for shipping before moving on to delivery.


Issue #3: Your website isn’t optimized for mobile.

You need to imagine that many of your customers are shopping on their smartphones because they are! When the mobile checkout experience isn’t considered carefully in the design, customers are going to become frustrated by hard-to-use interfaces and eventually give up.

Here are some of the issues mobile users might experience if your checkout isn’t optimized for mobile. The order summary may not be easily visible, or it may be non-existent on mobile devices. The mobile layout may not account for the mobile keyboard, which can potentially take up 50% of the phone’s screen. Customers may not see a “checkout as guest” option presented below the fold and off of their screen. Customers may be unable to see changes to their total price due to additional costs, such as warranty or shipping and delivery costs. Your call-to-action to move forward to the next step might be below the fold preventing customers from completing checkout.

And while we rarely see ALL of these examples presented together, even one can have a dramatic impact on conversions and sales.

Recommendations:

  • Provide persistent navigation that leads customers to critical information when it is not currently visible.
  • Add progress calls to action at multiple points so the user doesn’t get lost.
  • Make sure to provide clear and visible progress indicators.
The keyboard in this experience takes up nearly 50% of the screen and uses a standard qwerty-style keyboard.
The keyboard in this optimized experience takes up less screen space and provides users with a customized keyboard specific to the content.

Issue 4: Checkout flow lacks navigation and the flexibility to go back in the process.

Not knowing how long it’s going to take to finish checking out is a frustrating user experience. Users want to get in and get out. Without an indication of how many steps they’ll have to complete, it can feel like the process is taking an eternity – even if it isn’t.

Providing users with a visual indicator of their progress and the ability to easily move back in the process as needed to make a change a better user experience, decreases user anxiety, and increases successful checkouts.

Providing the ability to modify the cart is often a crucial improvement. If users see their progress but are not allowed to return to previous steps to check or change the information they’ve already entered, you may be causing additional frustration. This is an opportunity to let customers easily go back and change their order.

Recommendations:

  • Make sure progress is always easily visible at each step, and users can return to previous steps.
  • Indicate visually when steps have been completed.
  • Allow users to return to previous steps to edit information.
This experience shows only the current step of the process, does not indicate the number of steps, and does not provide a way to move back in the process.
This experience adds a process indicator at the top and provides easy navigation for going back in the process to edit information.

Whether your checkout flow is feeling like a tangled mess of old holiday lights or you’re in a spot to test some subtle adjustments for further optimization, there’s still time to make revenue-generating improvements ahead of the holiday season, so every customer can get what’s on their gift list

We are here to help! Contact us or email hello@teamroboboogie, to start the conversation.

In the race between Trump and Biden, who wins for most user-friendly mobile campaign donation site?

Biden and Trump Presidential Election

The presidential election is less than a month away and as the candidates make their final pitches to the American people, they both need two things — votes and, of course, money, money, money.

Both candidates’ campaign websites are out in the wild ready to inform, persuade, solicit your donations and, yup…sell ya some swag. U! S! A!

While we recognize most people’s minds are already made up, blue or red, we couldn’t help but wonder just how influential these websites might be to someone who is on the fence and considering making a donation. We challenged our team to put our biases aside, for just a second, and take an objective look at each site’s effectiveness (side note, this proved to be a really difficult task).

We asked the question, what if, say, you were knocked on the head with a large pumpkin while decorating your house for Halloween. You woke to selective political amnesia and a sudden realization you had to donate $10,000 to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump or be forced to eat only candy corn for the rest of the year. Armed with only a smartphone, 10 minutes, and a link to each of their websites, who would get your money?

The winner, by a thin blonde hair, is the sitting president, Donald Trump.

But just like the debate fly on Mike Pence’s head, it was very close.

So, how did we get these results?

Five of our top UX design and digital experience experts evaluated each website’s mobile experience based on four experience categories: value proposition, donation call to action, navigation, and transaction. We broke these down into performance criteria and for each one we gave it a value from zero for “does not meet or is not present” to three for “is present and very effective.”

Five experts ran independent audits to score each site in these categories. To broaden our sample set, we then totaled and averaged our scores.

Want to see the whole heuristic audit? Scroll to the bottom for the full details.

Here are some result highlights: 

First, the bad news for both candidates — navigating through their sites on a mobile device is not easy. Both sites lack a clear value proposition, have too many competing calls to action, and navigation options and search is difficult if not impossible to find. So, while Trump is technically the winner here, both mobile websites have room for significant improvement.

For both sites, it appears that mobile design is not a priority. In 2020, that’s a huge oversight. From our perspective, this is a huge lost opportunity to reach a broader and younger audience ready and willing to engage.

Trump pulled ahead in the value proposition category. His website more clearly laid out his accomplishments and policies, though it lagged behind Biden’s in future planning.

When it came to the call to action to donate, Biden actually out-maneuvered Trump. Biden’s donation amounts started smaller — $15 to Trump’s $35 — and, according to one evaluator, were almost too prominent throughout the mobile experience.

But Trump’s calls to action were more consistent and a little less overwhelming. Unless you actually donated, at which point, the evaluator said, the CTAs became “absolutely unbearable in their persistence.”  

As far as that transaction itself, after you donated that $10,000 and moved on to a blissful, candy corn free 2020, neither was great. On Trump’s site, you have to sift through 14 screens before you reach a “thanks for donating” page. 

Trump’s pop-up ads felt like fake news, and Biden’s site was buggy in places. Neither full experience was very presidential from our perspective.

To summarize: 

First of all, we proved it’s really hard to put down biases to conduct an audit like this. Particularly when evaluating value propositions. We tried to stay objective and quantify our results as much as possible. While this is a small (statistically insignificant sample set) we still believe it provides valuable insights both camps could use to improve their sites and increase donations. 

Trump’s website is a clear winner in the usability category. But, it was a close (and certain to be a controversial race). 

For a website show-down in 2020 when user experience, navigation, and access to information is key, especially on mobile, we were surprised that both candidates’ sites were needing a lot of optimization. It seems shortsighted that both were primarily built for desktop. 

At this point, it’s probably too late for the candidates’ sites to be optimized. But hopefully not for you! Interested in seeing you how your website holds up to this kind of scrutiny? Contact Roboboogie at hello@teamroboboogie.com.

Regardless of who you are campaigning for, please get out and vote!

Assessment Disclaimers:

For this assessment, we decided to focus on the mobile experience but briefly viewed the desktop experience for comparison. Our assumption is that more than 50% of traffic to these sites is on small mobile devices but this has not been verified.

Also, please don’t get all fired up for a debate with us, we only have a small sample set here and we’re not intending to take a political stance. Our goal is simply to bring some levity to the election and demonstrate how a heuristic evaluation can be a helpful tool in identifying optimization opportunities and evaluating competitor experiences. 

Here’s our process:

To scorecard each website, we first needed to develop our evaluation criteria and assign a performance scale and value to each based on the following metrics

0 = does not meet/is not present 
1 = is present but not effective 
2 = is present and effective
3 = is present and very effective

THE EVALUATION: 

Category 1. 

Value Proposition (must be present within 1 click of home page)

These websites are largely intended to be informational. An online bio and portfolio of each candidate and their campaign platform.

The website clearly and concisely stated position on the following criteria:

  • Why/how they are fit to be president
  • Relevant accomplishments
  • What policies they stand for
  • Why these policies are important
  • What they plan to accomplish

Category 2. 

Donation call to action

For CTA’s we are going to focus on donations. We can assume that in addition to the informational side we evaluated above that donation solicitation is a primary site performance metric. 

  • Donation prompts are present and clear 
  • Donate CTA (button(s) is present
  • Donate CTA (button(s) is prominent 
  • Other CTAs are not competing with donations

Category 3.

Mobile Navigation:

  • Primary navigation options are 5 or less
  • Secondary navigation is clear and accessible
  • Contextual navigation is provided on the home screen to support primary content areas
  • Search is available and appropriately located

Category 4.

Transaction:

  • Steps to donate are clearly stated
  • Transaction forms and payment options are present and clear 
  • Error notice and recovery options are present and clear 
  • Confirmation of donation transaction completion is present and clear 
  • Post donation actions are present and clear

Turning data insights into record-breaking holiday sales with Roboboogie and FullStory

On Wednesday, September 30, Roboboogie joined up with our partners from FullStory and a group of excited UX and eCommerce professionals to share insights on optimizing eCommerce shopping experiences ahead of the 2020 holiday season. Along with the insights, Chris Zannotti from the FullStory team demonstrated how their digital experience analytics tool makes it possible. Oh, and we also ate pizza!

Meet John Gentle and Chris Zannotti

John Gentle is Roboboogie’s Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) and has spent most of his professional career in user experience design, digital strategy, and iterative, data-backed design. His relationship with data went next-level when Roboboogie partnered with FullStory two years ago, turbocharging Roboboogie’s work with notable eCommerce brands and leading them to the conversion rate promised land. For our event, John shifted his attention to a reflection on behavioral traits we have typically seen from holiday shoppers online, and how you can optimize your site to meet those shoppers with an optimal eCommerce experience.

Chris Zannotti is a seasoned sales engineer with FullStory who has mastered the ins-and-outs of understanding a business’s needs and demonstrating how FullStory can help them improve their digital experience. For our event, Chris focused his efforts on demonstrating how FullStory makes it easy for eCommerce, UX, and marketing teams to understand where in the conversion process users are experiencing frustration and identifying the contributing factors.

Evaluate and anticipate shoppers’ needs

The theme of this holiday season is: “Expect the unexpected.” 

Simply reviewing analytics from previous holiday seasons is not enough this year. There are too many external unknowns as a result of the pandemic that are influencing shopping behaviors, including; what people will buy, how they will shop, and how they are evaluating online shopping options. 

The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to find and fix potential problem areas that exist now, and anticipate how user behaviors will change on your site when shopping really ramps up.

The way we identify optimization opportunities is to bring data and design together.

Our analysts look for performance issues in the data, and then pass those to design to hypothesize potential cause from a design perspective. Simultaneously, design conducts user-centric heuristic evaluations and looks to the analyst to get data confirmation of the suspected problem area. 

In the past, these evaluations have been challenging, requiring teams to cobble together data and insights with focus groups, user tests, GA data and scroll maps. This is why we love FullStory – it plugs in quickly, instrumentation-free, and quickly gathers both qualitative and quantitative data, quickly surfacing issues and providing a forum for deeper discovery.

In regards to evaluating potential new needs, a helpful and easy exercise is to simply generate a list of questions customers might be looking to answer on your site. Then take that list and evaluate it against your current experience to see how effectively your site is answering those questions: 

What are shipping costs? Do they offer contactless store pick-up? Since this popular item is out of stock, is there a similar alternative that is available? If the world ends after the election, can I get my money back on all the items I purchased?

Identify and prioritize leaks

Weaknesses get amplified and expose underuse and stress. Things that are broken now or causing frustration for your users will be magnified under the increased traffic and shopping stress of the holiday season. And eCommerce managers often have an internal push vs. pull debate around where to start fixing UX issues (check-out vs. homepage).

We typically start in checkout since there is high intent for purchase being shown – recognizing that people might be evaluating final costs/doing cost comparisons. Resolving UX and technical blockers that are keeping them from completing their purchases has a direct impact on ROI for those customers, as well as new customers who may be driven to your checkout funnel.

While we recommend starting at the checkout funnel, we have also found instances where seriously blockers kept users from entering the checkout flow or finding the products they were looking for. Starting from the checkout funnel, you can work your way backward through individual products, to product categories, to your homepage, evaluating the UX opportunities through each step.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to optimize all phases of your site between now and the holiday season, so we recommend you quantify and triage. FullStory’s Conversions tool identifies drop-off points, user frustration metrics, and attributes revenue (!) to all stages of a conversion path. This allows you to quickly pinpoint areas where you are potentially losing the most money. That’s right, it shows you the potential lost revenue from every step of your funnel. As you might suspect, we recommend reviewing those areas first as you start prioritizing your fixes.

Optimize for behavioral differences

There are different types of shoppers and browsing habits for online shoppers, not unlike shoppers in a physical retail location. We recommend segmenting and observing the types of shoppers you have on your site and optimizing the ways they navigate through your site. We often observe users navigating in three ways: through your primary navigation, using your search functionality, or finding their products contextually.  

As you fix some leaks and start feeling good about the pending flood of shoppers and what they might need, it’s a good time to look a little deeper and consider the needs of your smaller audience segments based on traffic sources, device types, product affinities, brand loyalty, etc.

As a starting point for behavioral optimization, we recommend evaluating how effectively your site is supporting the three primary modes of moving around a website – search, navigation, and contextually (content). 

These modes can indicate user intent. For instance, many people who come to a website knowing what they want (make and model) enter from Google search or enter an onsite search. While it’s not a steadfast rule, this can help further segment and understand user behavior. It’s also important to recognize that many sessions will contain the use of two or three of these modes. 

One example is a shopper who may start with a list of very specific items they need to buy for friends, with known brands and models, but also has a list of people they need to buy for and knows what they like in general so they need to do some window shopping, but is not comfortable going to the local mall.

Assuming you have the items they know they need, how do you get them to not only purchase those items but also discover that you have awesome gifts for their friends?

In general, these are behaviors that would be difficult to understand and optimize for in Google Analytics. With a digital experience analytics tool like FullStory you are able to not only isolate user segments but also see exactly what they did and why it’s working or not working. You can watch real user session replays for any segmented group, as well as observe click maps, scroll maps, and heat maps, as well as frustration metrics, for each segment.

It’s not too late to start optimizing for this holiday season!

Here’s the good news. It’s not too late to start optimizing or continue optimizing for the 2020 holiday season. Our team firmly believes that nearly every eCommerce site can be continuously optimized to further improve user experience, increase conversion rate, and increase average order value. Deploying a new instrumentation-free DX analytics tool like FullStory can uncover opportunities large and small that could have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate and average order value. We’d love to chat with you about the potential for your site. Ready to get started?

Our Top 5 Favorite Insights from FullStory DX Maturity

FullStory recently released its “State of Digital Experience 2020” report, and this year’s focus is on mapping a path to digital experience maturity. One of the foundational reasons we began our partnership with FullStory lies in the platform’s ability to combine qualitative and quantitative data. And true to FullStory’s technological foundation, this report packs qualitative and quantitative insights designed to help you assess your organization’s current level of digital maturity while outlining a path for continued growth. We aren’t here to spoil the whole read for you, so here are five key takeaways for our team. Of course, we encourage you to read the whole digital experience report… after you read this blog post.

The human experience and the digital experience are deeply intertwined

Test yourself. When you see/hear the phrase digital, do you start thinking about your app, your website, your checkout funnel, or data visualization? Or, are you thinking about your real-world customer interacting with your site or app in their real-world environment? 

It’s easy to lose sight of the connection between the two – human experience and digital experience – because they often become disconnected during the design and build process or as the digital experience evolves. Technical requirements, platform limitations, and device constraints can take precedence over the needs of the user. However, maintaining a focus on the humans who engage with your digital experience can pay off in customer satisfaction and conversions. When you adopt a culture of analyzing, testing, and optimizing your digital experience, you uncover opportunities to improve the digital experience, often in the form of customer-centric digital design

“According to data from Qualtrics, 94% of consumers who give a company a “very good” customer experience rating are “very likely” to purchase more products or services from that company in the future. Only 18% of those who gave a company a “very poor” CX rating say the same. Similarly, 95% of consumers who give a company a “very good” CX rating are “very likely” to recommend the company. Only 15% of those who gave a company a “very poor” CX rating say the same.”

We’re strong believers in establishing personas and customer journeys with a focus on empathy and an understanding of the key emotional drivers your customers bring when they arrive at your site in your app. By leveraging qualitative data and quantitative data, we can then assess how our design aligns with customers, and how we address their changing motivations over time.

Organizations that celebrate testing and learning deliver better digital experiences

Good news! Testing and learning is better than not-testing and not-learning when it comes to digital experiences – just check the data!

“According to our research, companies that deliver better digital experiences more often are more likely to encourage testing and learning than their counterparts… They are also 47% more likely to actually iterate.”

It’s a drum we’ve been beating for a long time. We talk to people in organizations of all sizes that fall along the digital experience maturity path, and the idea of testing, learning, and iterating is far from a given, regardless of the size of the company. FullStory calls out several important cultural components for organizations embracing testing. One of those, “everyone checks their ego at the door,” can be a real mind shift for organizations that prioritize having the best idea and then moving on. We still need people in organizations to come up with great ideas, and we also need the open-mindedness to test those ideas, look at the data, and come up with the next, even better iteration.

Having a culture of testing also means that sometimes we are going to be wrong and that we’re going to be able to prove it and own it. Maybe it’s a slight drop in conversion rate, or perhaps it’s a significant decrease in interaction with an element on the page. Testing gives us the ability to be flexible, nimble, and data-backed. “Losing” tests are just as important as the winners, and oftentimes provide a wealth of information about our customers’ motivations and actions. And when you are launching new experiences with a testing mindset, it’s easy to revert to your control, while you evaluate and iterate.

“The data shows that more mature digital experience organizations are more likely to report being able to:

• Easily prioritize digital fixes and improvements

• Quickly ship digital fixes and improvements

• Translate customer insights into action

• Optimize the digital experience for key conversions”

More mature organizations structure teams with speed in mind

We mentioned company size above, and while we often think of large companies with large resources (and pockets) as being the ones to lead the charge, yachts aren’t known for turning quickly. What FullStory’s data shows is that organizations that structure cross-functional teams, regardless of organization size, are able to move faster, adapt, and implement changes with a customer-centric focus.

“While there was little standardization across all survey respondents—with organizations indicating they structure teams cross-functionally, via job function, or both—the data revealed that more mature digital experience organizations are 68% more likely to report they structure teams cross-functionally.”

You may see this is in your own organization. Perhaps your company has analysts, but they function outside of the product team, making it hard for the product team to get the data they need. Or, perhaps you live in the all-too-common scenario of working on a team without dedicated development resources and are not able to maintain consistent alignment on the needs of your users. One of the ways we are able to move quickly with our clients is that we staff a multidisciplinary team of designers, developers, strategists, analysts, and producers – it affords us the opportunity to be flexible and augment internal teams as needed. If you’re starting down the path of building cross-functional teams, there is a great section on getting started in the report that we highly recommend.

Ensure that digital is an executive-level priority

Organizational priorities live and die at the executive level. Whether it’s the prioritization of financial resources, human resources, or the support to keep a digital initiative going, you need buy-in from the top.

“The “digital experience” is massive, encompassing your brand’s digital marketing channels, sales channels, product experience, customer support and feedback channels, and more. It is truly cross-functional, cross-departmental, cross-banner—and to bring all of the pieces together, there must be executive-level oversight.”

In our experience, executives love data just as much as we do. When those individuals are siloed, their needs, and the metrics they are concerned about can fall out of alignment with the digital team. One of the greatest aspects of maintaining executive-level involvement and buy-in is the opportunity to cooperatively build the roadmap for digital success.

Your digital experience technology stack must be highly integrated

Marketing and digital experience technology stacks can vary widely across organizations, and we’ve worked with a lot of configurations. Regardless of how simple or complex, the data needs to be clean, connected, accurate, and accessible. From a technological perspective, FullStory calls out a few must-haves for the technology you are vetting.

“That’s why—if you are taking the stack approach—you must integrate your technology. To that end, you’ll want to source technologies that have:

• Robust APIs that empower developers to enrich their tech stack with platform data and deepen the insights they receive within the platform itself• Webhooks to power workflows across the business and allow you to set up automations and take action in real-time

• Webhooks to power workflows across the business and allow you to set up automations and take action in real-time

• An ecosystem of integrations that allows you to connect your tech stack and create a shared language around digital experience across your business”

Along with technology integration, you also need to have a plan for human integration with your technology. Identify who has access to your data to perform analysis in your cross-functional teams. Once you know who has access to the data, become friends with that person or be that person, and maybe introduce us too! 

We recommend checking out the full FullStory report. If you’re interested in talking about all things digital optimization, send us a message and we’ll set up a time to chat.