‘Bad’ UX for the right reasons

This might be a stretched metaphor but today’s extended efforts and long stairwell down to the beach meant relative seclusion as the boys and I paddled. Hafting to work for it made it all the more special.

Secret beach. New fav. Calm and hard to get to.

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

All to often we look for a slick, fast, simple, intuitive user experience on our websites.

The trouble is, for consultative or B2B websites, that you’re looking for qualified leads.

When you’re after a specific client and trying to distinguish yourself from the masses, having a simple user experience to register interest could in fact do you a disfavour. Unqualified leads are frustrating. Incorrectly routed leads cause delays and miss-categorised enquiries can also bog down a company’s success. For many websites, that “contact us” form is the heart and achilles heel all in one.

Still, the distinction should be made between qualifying criteria and a slick user interface. The last few days I’ve been left frustrated by recruitment sites that are not mobile optimised. Further frustration was felt by one popular system that would not let me upload a file with non alpha characters in the name. Nickallencv worked, Nick-Allen-CV did not, but was easy to read.

Nor could I just link to my LinkedIn profile or to my role specific application on Dropbox. Still, as a consequence I quadruple checked the doc before submitting (a good UX filter).

Functionally, a user experience should be as simplistic as possible. But with a little investigation there’s no reason we cannot simplify the qualification of leads.

If you’re working with c suite, high income, any clients, your site needs to be optimised for mobile and tablet use. Period! Once clear of creating a device agnostic experience, how about using what you know?

Implicit personalisation of a website and analytics profiles means that even after a user had browsed just a half dozen pages, you should already have a notion of their intent and profile. If they’ve come from a search engine query, heck, then you’re already half way there!

With B2C this means tailoring “related items” and understanding what they’re after, featuring similar items beside product descriptions etc. It means converting them to transactions and nurturing add-ons or up-sells.

For B2B it means feeding them more relevant content and related services. Then, once convinced, at the point of ‘contacting us’ this means: suggesting the auto-completion of form fields, bundling services they may be interested in and routing the lead accordingly.

As mentioned before, it’s key to UN-optimise your site for the wrong clients. The sweet spot is dropping the wrong leads and nurturing the right ones…

Of course for ecommerce websites the art with a large array of products is to balance explicit filter selections, with implicit recommendations. Apple fans are apple fans so there’s little reason to offer them a Blackberry. But they might be convinced to switch to a Samsung and would definitely like to know about the best cases and most used apps as additional items.

Finding the right balance of visual cues and prompts is the UX experts forte, knowing which user to optimise for and prioritising what upgrade to make first is the strength of a good Product Owner/Digital Strategist.

What Crazy Chef – Gordon Ramsay – Has Taught Me About Online Marketing

In the background this evening is Ramsay’s kitchen nightmares playing on the TV.

For those who have not been blessed with the acne scarred, expletive derived, Michelin star holding master chef – this post is about a restaurant expert coming in to put things right.  How it relates to digital marketing? You’ll see.

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Gordon is travelling around the US visiting SMEs and owner operator restaurants. It’s brutal truth as always with expletives in every sentence. Yet…

There are main themes that come through that I would relate back to digital marketing.

  1. Of course his expertise means he can comment on quality and that is step one that many of us forget. User surveys, customer insights and anecdotal comments at client meetings all need to be collected and aggregated.

    We need to understand explicitly what customers feel about your web presence and work to prioritise improvements. Including users within the organisation!

  2. The second point is that NONE of the owners have an exacting view over costs and income. At either end they are throwing away good food or not catering to the right market and missing income, or don’t even know their income.

    Having a clear understanding of cost per acquisition, how many of your warm leads are converted to sales or even how many conversions you get from PR, PPC, SEO or Social is paramount to selling ‘marketing’ to your colleagues.

  3. The third is finding your USP, what differentiates you from competitors, direct or indirect. Ramsay brings the basics: fresh, seasoned and tasty. Yet every restaurant brings its own twist. Be it Michelin star presentation, hyper local produce or just like Momma makes.

    More often than not, once Ramsay has been through they’re leading on price and offering top quality and service.

    Likewise, we need to have a fresh take, content and aggregation that can’t be found elsewhere. We also need to support this with well managed PPC and SEO to feed the sales loop to be ahead of competitors.

  4. As I watch Gordon work his way around the restaurant each staff member openly shares their thoughts on what’s wrong, and very few seem horrifically off the mark. Flattening hierarchies and asking for feedback from the front line is paramount with your online channels as well. Open communication is needed about how hard it is to run with an incomplete lead, how hard the analytics are to understand, or simply how long it takes to publish. All reflect on your end website and service.
  5. The main underlying point though seems to be stepping back from the routine to focus on what could we do differently. Doing this seals the episode.

    If we could all schedule a monthly day-long growth hacking session, where the day to day grind is completely dismissed, I am sure that our digital marketing will grow from strength to strength. Innovate.

As Henry Ford said –

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.