The exporting experience: one year on

Reading Time: 5 minutes

At the end of March this year, my colleague Katie wrote a post about some work she had been involved with to improve the exporting user journey on scottish-enterprise.com.

She included some analytics data that seemed to indicate some significant improvements. But she only had 3 months’ worth of data, which makes it hard to draw any firm conclusions.

So we thought now, with a year’s worth of data, would be a good time to look back on what’s changed, what worked, and any opportunities for further improvement.

Continue reading “The exporting experience: one year on”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

How we are improving the application process for customers with accessibility requirements

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Introduction 

As an organisation we are  committed to do more testing with people with accessibility needs. This will ensure that our services can be easily accessed by everyone and to meet our legal obligations as a public sector organisation. We aim to recruit participants with accessibility needs in every round of research that we do to ensure that accessibility is considered at every stage of the project. 

We tested extensively the prototype for the Green jobs grant which was launched in the summer of 2021. 

Our goals  

We had a number of aims for this research:

  • To test the application journey with users who have a range of accessibility needs and to find what the challenges were for them in our journey  
  • To get clarity on what areas worked well  
  • We wanted to discover if different needs give conflicting priorities  
Continue reading “How we are improving the application process for customers with accessibility requirements”

User experience begins long before someone reaches your website

Reading Time: 4 minutes

COVID-19. Collective sigh. If you’re not jaded by it all yet then your reserves of positivity surely know no bounds.

The winds of change that have blown across our world as a result of this surreal event are quite incredible. And many things will never be the same again.

Small town centres, previously peppered with empty shops, are bustling. Employers are embracing remote working like never before. Deserted city centre scenes, previously only featured in apocalyptic movies, have graced the evening news.

But some things haven’t changed.

Many organisations continue to create policy, advice, products and services in complete ignorance of how user behaviour in the modern age will define their effectiveness.

There’s been no more perfect example of this than the four corners of the UK all having different and, in many cases, contradictory rules and advice for citizens to follow during this pandemic.

Continue reading “User experience begins long before someone reaches your website”

How we improved the exporting user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We recently redesigned the exports and international markets section of the Scottish Enterprise website. 

Our goals

  • Raise awareness of our exporting expertise and support – in order to help more businesses, we needed them to be aware of what support they can access through us
  • Create content that is relevant and useful to exporters and potential exporters – we wanted to ensure that content on our website was meeting user needs
  • Get more enquiries for exporting services and events – we wanted to get more people asking us about the services and events that we offer
  • Help users self-serve – we wanted to help people self-serve where possible, or signpost them to other help and support, at the right point in the customer journey
  • Get more users taking advantage of market opportunities – we wanted to help businesses understand what opportunities exist in overseas markets and how they can access them
Continue reading “How we improved the exporting user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website”

About Katie Dickerson

I'm a service designer with a background in content design and a passion for taking hard things and making them simple.

A form of conversation

Reading Time: 2 minutes

So, we've been thinking about forms.

Well, specifically, I've been thinking about forms, with a view to improving them.

Here's what I've learned. Or, in some cases, remembered.

Continue reading “A form of conversation”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Love the problem and not the solution

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have all sorts of training and qualifications that help me to design and build awesome solutions. It excites me. I love my job. Which means that I have to sit on the impulse to jump straight to solutions and remember to concentrate on the problem every single day.

The moment you start to design a solution, you are heading down a road that is harder to get off  every day that passes. It is human nature. You invest time, effort and your personal awesomeness in a solution and before long you love it. It can be emotionally painful to ditch it even if it is obviously not the right solution.  (I promise not to start talking about any of my ex’s). Even if you don’t like the solution, it is still hard to throw away the time and money invested in it. It is all too easy to roll out a solution that does not really solve the problem any more. 

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a tourist icon, but that is just a benefit. The problem it was built to solve was to get across the Golden Gate strait, thus saving the hours it would take to drive round the bay.

If an earthquake knocks the bridge down, the new one might be very different. The solution is variable but the problem is the same.

Continue reading “Love the problem and not the solution”

We need feedback

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yes, we do.

But what do you mean?

We need to understand why those users don't engage further with our content. We need to get in front of them and ask why they think the way they do. Why aren't they engaging with our content?

A feedback loop
A feedback loop

If those users are 6,000 miles away, that's going to be pretty expensive feedback. Sure, it will be valuable, qualitative feedback. 

But it won't be the most valuable feedback we can get.

Because what people say and what they actually do are two completely different things.

Continue reading “We need feedback”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

What digital transformation really means

Taking a digital photograph

Reading Time: 3 minutes

First, the bad news: it doesn't mean everyone gets an iPad.

Digital transformation isn't about technology, it's about the change the technology enables.

Think about the railways in the 19th century. You didn't have to be Robert Louis Stevenson to understand that being able to get from Edinburgh to London in day, rather than a week, was a game changer. 

You don't have to be able to design the train, or even ride it, to benefit from it.

Let me give you a picture.

Continue reading “What digital transformation really means”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Why users do what they do, when, where, how, and what they do it with

Storyboard showing people using mobile devices while commuting, or in social situations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

OK, so that's a long title.

It's why we use a bit of jargon in user experience (UX).

We call "why users do what they do, when, where, how, and what they do it with" context of use.

It's a crucial piece, or, rather, set, of information.

If you know who your users are, what they're trying to get done, why the want to do it, and how they will interact with it – including the environment and circumstances they're in – you will have a really clear picture of what your product or service needs to do to make that happen.

It's critical to know, because – well, basically, if you don't know this stuff, failure is an absolute certainty.

Continue reading “Why users do what they do, when, where, how, and what they do it with”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Towards agile UX

Reading Time: 4 minutes

So I recently studied for, and sat, the exam for, the CPUX-F qualification*.

It stands for Certified Professional for Usability and User Experience (that's the UX bit), if you really want to know.

It was interesting, though not novel; most of it was just formalising knowlege I and my colleagues have already acquired, willy-nilly, over the years.

Here's what the process look like.

The human-centred design process
The human-centred design process

Continue reading “Towards agile UX”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Personas: fact or fiction? Answer: neither, and both

Reading Time: 3 minutesIn the 1930s, the German physicist Erwin Schrodinger proposed a thought experiment.

I’ll spare you the detail, as it was an experiment about quantum mechanics, and quantum mechanics is a bit weird. And it involved a cat, in a box, which may, or, may not, have been alive, or dead, or possibly both, or possibly neither.

But the upshot was this: If you have an equal chance of an event happening or not happening, a cat my or may not be alive or dead. And you won’t know which is actually happening until you look, at which point you destroy the possibility of the outcome you did not observe and therefore make the outcome you did observe real.

Schrodinger concluded that, until you actually observe the outcome, the cat is neither dead nor alive, but both.

I told you quantum mechanics was weird.

Continue reading “Personas: fact or fiction? Answer: neither, and both”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Design content first … who would have thought of that?

Reading Time: 5 minutesIn November 2007, when I was part of what was then the SE web team, we were asked if we could take on a project.

The objective was to completely re-design and rewrite the SE website. Some of you may remember what it looked like back then. Including an incredible floating woman. Stock photography. It’s why we banned it.

The Scottish Enterprise website in 2008
Way back when …

Oh. And it had to be ready by 1 April 2008. SE would have a new remit by then. Would that be OK?

Continue reading “Design content first … who would have thought of that?”

About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Usability Findings Report – August 2012

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Findings report – August 2012

In August 2012 we produced a report to share our findings with partner agencies. This was to show them common issues and also set a baseline for acceptable usability.
At the same time we also collated observations from Neilson’s usability week lectures that several staff members attended.

Continue reading “Usability Findings Report – August 2012”

The problem with pixels …

Reading Time: < 1 minute

You see, Apple’s newest tablet, the iPad Mini, creates a vexing situation: Its device-width viewport tag defaults to the same values as Apple’s original iPad (768×1024 pixels), even though the Mini’s screen is physically 40 percent smaller. That means every button, graphic, link, and line of text on a web page on the iPad Mini appears tiny—even when we try to do the right thing and build flexible, multi-device experiences.

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/vexing-viewports/


About David O'Brien

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been involved in the web for over 20 years, one way or another.

Loan me your phone. I am off to China.

Reading Time: 3 minutesThe question?

What would your response be if a colleague told you, they were going to China for a week on business, and then asked for a loan of your phone.

For me it would fall into 2 camps:

  • Camp 1: If it was my phone I might suggest, (strenuously), that they seek a phone elsewhere
  • Camp2: If it was a work phone I would suck my teeth for a bit, take out the “strenuously” and still suggest that they look elsewhere for a phone.

Why the unkind response?

The simple reason for this rather unkind response is that most of us eat sleep and breath our phones. They have become integral to most of our daily activities and they also store a lot of personal data on them. I would probably loan you my car rather than hand over my phone.

Continue reading “Loan me your phone. I am off to China.”

Mindmap Packages

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI have probably used north of 20 mindmap packages across various operating systems in recent years. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and none are perfect.

My ultimate choice was to use Mindomo. It does everything I need it to and works well across all platforms that I use.


Here is why I chose it:

My choice for the ipad filtered down to 3 packages

  1. MindJet
  2. iMindMap by Tony Buzan
  3. Mindomo

Mindjet (Mindmanager now branded just as Mindjet)

Pro
This is a great package and works well on the ipad.
We use it within our organisation for on Desktops and Laptops
Con
It does not work without a network connection (show stopping fail)
The online version is very “Laggy” and frustratingly slow.

iMindMap by Tony Buzan

Pro
Tony Buzan “is” mindmaps and the package reflects that. It does amazing tactile genuine mindmaps
Visually rich
Uses colour well
Con
Ipad version is quite tricky with normal sized fingers.
The mindmaps can sometimes look too tactile and do not plug into formal documents well.

Mindomo

Pro
Generally good at most things
Online version is fast
Ipad version is fast
Works offline on Ipad
Syncs with cloud version easily
Con
Nothing much.
It lacks some features of the others and can be a little bossy about layout but none of these are large issues at all.

 

Opening the box – on new Ipad

Reading Time: < 1 minuteThe long wait begins whilst the IPad charges for the first time.

I set up a new iTunes account using work email address. This needs a credit card to complete.  Using personal one at present. Now to load up basic apps for adding business functionality.

  • Dropbox and Google Drive for file sharing. (Google Drive is also an entry point to Google Docs which gives a good spreadsheet and word processor amongst other tools)
  • Evernote for note taking and bookmarking useful websites.
  • Adobe Reader for PDF files.
  • Flipboard for research and Media awareness.
  • Pocket for clipping websites to read later.
  • Grafio Lite (To explore graphing flowcharts etc)
  • Skype, Vibr, Teamviewer, Webex, Logmein & GoToMeeting for Online Conferencing and messenging
  • National Rail and Easyjet  apps for travel.
  • Bump for sharing Business Cards/Contacts
  • Scan, DocScan HD & ScanBiz lite for QR and Business card scanning.
  • Mindjet & Mindomo for MindMapping
  • YouTube and all the various TV apps for media access
  • Print Agent as Text Editor
  • Roambi (To investigate rich presentations built from PDF’s).
  • AudioMemo and Quick Voice for voice recording.
  • Print Agent (to explore WiFi printing)

Continue reading “Opening the box – on new Ipad”