'User Experience Design' blog posts

Consulting, IKEA Kiosks, Ektron upgrade and Gift Vouchers

We've been working hard with a lot of our existing clients (CIS, IKEA, FSAI & Gift Voucher Solutions). The summer has kicked off and so have a lot of new projects.

Martin has been working with CIS over the past few weeks, he's been consulting on a technology strategy for their product platform (CISOnline). We plan to integrate cloud-based SAAS platforms with CISOnline which will result in a more efficient business process for CIS, allowing them to manage their ever-growing customer base.

A new Gift Voucher Solutions project has started, with John taking on his first end-to-end project here in Dovetail. He has been working closely with Dawn in GVS. They are doing a total overhaul of the existing system, with an emphasis on improving the Customer Experience (UX) and changing to a responsive design which will work much better on both mobile and desktop browsers.

UML Diagram for IKEA Family Kiosk Platform

Trevor and Tomás have been working on a new IKEA Project. This is Phase 2 of the IKEA FAMILY Kiosk project. After two years live with the current implementation, we have analysed, measured and learned. We are now applying this learning to "Phase 2". We are focusing on customer experience for the IKEA FAMILY member, trying to improve the customer journeys as they use the kiosks. We want to make these journeys more enjoyable, faster and clearer than before.

Greg was working separately on a small IKEA project which will be going live at the end of the month. Greg was also doing a lot of internal work, adding functionality to our customer support portal, and improving our internal reporting system "Hawkeye". Today is his last day, as he's taking some time off before heading back to college in September.

I have been floating around a bit, working with John on the User Experience design for Gift Voucher Solutions. I have also started an Ektron upgrade project for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. We are upgrading their website Content Management System from version 8.0.2 to version 9.1.

This afternoon we'll be kicking off our summer office party and BBQ. It also doubles as a farewell to Greg and welcome drinks for John. We're fully stocked with beer and cider, so it should be a fun one.

Dovetail Beer delivery Craft beer delivery aided by Trev's sweet bike rack.

Improving the experience for touch and mobile input

How to Simplify Input with Steppers. I've always been a fan of Luke Wroblewski. He simplifies UI and input problems, and demonstrates why they shouldn't have been complicated in the first place.

Improve touch UI with steppers

Our mobile apps and touch screen systems are pretty good as they are, but they will be given the LukeW treatment in their next iteration. As we all know, there is always room for improvement.

See the entire series of videos, they're short and well worth your time, regardless of your industry.

Dublinked RTPI conference, new office chairs and more IKEA work

Apologies to our regular readers for the absence of a blog post last week. I imagine it left a big hole in your week! The good thing about missing a week is that there's plenty of news this week.

Trevor has been busy as usual. He attended a talk on Horizon 2020. He also attended the Dublinked Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) meetup in The Digital Depot last Thursday. Dovetail has plenty of experience in Real Time Passenger Information, we built the software that converts live tram information from LUAS into the industry-standard SIRI protocol.  Our SIRI server then produces information for the National Transport Authority's RTPI site and for the Transport for Ireland Real Time apps and website. And of course we have developed the live LUAS iPhone and LUAS Android apps.

RTPI Dublin

Work has started on another IKEA project which will be going live very soon. Mossy has been working on a small-ish pilot (a Minimum Viable Product if you will) that will involve a number of IKEA UK stores. All going well, we will extend the prototype over the next few weeks and it will become a valuable part of the IKEA FAMILY ecosystem.

A short iterative process really helps validate ideas with real customer feedback. IKEA have been doing this for a long time, and we have been finding it very useful with some of our other clients too. FSAI and CIS have both benefited from this recently. If you are interested in these techniques, Mossy recommends Lean UX, which he has found excellent to kick-start the thought process.

Tomás has been very busy over the past few weeks building a shiny new system for Acquirer Systems. Once complete this will be an extension of their existing product offering. We're using our latest technologies including ASP.NET MVC 4, LLBLGEN and this project is test driven. Test Driven development is being heavily promoted by Tomás internally and he is ensuring that the rest of the team are up to speed by the end of 2014.

There have also been a couple of changes here in the office since the last post. Martin managed to get rid of a large server and as a result increased the usable floor space in the office by about 100%.

And we got new Herman Miller Aeron office chairs yesterday. I'm sitting on one now and they're very comfortable. I think that initally they resulted in a slight decrease in productivity, with everyone trying to discover what each of the many levers do, but looking around the office now, everyone looks like a poster child for good posture. I think they've ruined normal chairs for me.

Finally, Dovetail are looking to hire another developer. I'll have to tell Martin to update the perks on that page to include the Aeron chairs!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! - Bird's Eye #20

Firstly, welcome to 2014! I hope you don’t mess up any dates on forms over the next few weeks, as I’m sure I will. Another even year, it feels like ages since the last even year...

IKEA “Swipe A Surprise” pilot is still going well on the IKEA Southampton store Family Kiosks. After some usability testing and watching real customers use the new functionality, we have gone through some iterations of screens and flows as we get feedback from the store and customers. Small changes to the copy, messages and some forms have improved the user experience and helped customers navigate quickly and claim their Prize. Two of the big prizes have already been won. Two customers have won a £500 voucher and £750 voucher respectively. Excitement is building in the hopes that one very lucky IKEA Family member will win the Holiday to Sweden.

Trevor and Tomás also made some improvements for the customer login journey across all Kiosks in the UK and Ireland to help customers who made mistakes when entering their details. They can now edit their details and try again, leaving them less frustrated.

John has moved from doing great work on the HSA project, codename “Redstart”,  to doing some new work for the European SharePoint Conference, which we will be putting live over the coming weeks. Redstart will now go through some UAT testing, and we will get a first round of feedback from the client before making improvements in preparation for go-live.

Work continues for Martin and myself as we come to the final stages of the Calorie calculator project for the FSAI. A go live date is looming on the horizon and we plan to get the final polish of the application done over the next few weeks, with hope of achieving an excellent version 1 of the new app.

Why is UX as important as SEO?

As someone who is relatively new to the facinating world of I.T. and development, I have noticed how important SEO is to everyone. As an experienced businessman, however, I have discovered (with my wife's help) the importance of UX Design.

I don't need to detail the virtues of an SEO plan to anyone, as everyone seems to be much more up-to-speed than me. The importance of UX design is a sometimes overlooked element of applications that I think is critically important to any on-line application.

My wife, Catherine, runs a U.K. based Designer Radiator Retail company called Inspiration Radiators. Her sales are quite modest, however, she is ranked number 3 on ebay.co.uk for Designer Radiators. Her business has experience of UX design, although she didn't know what to call it at the time. Below is an example of a typical example of a buy page in Ebay. A user can place a bid or buy-it-now and so on.


As sales grew, so did the number of products that the store had for sale. Putting these products into the ebay shop individually became very time consuming. As a result, my wife started to group some of the new products, allowing the user to choose the variation on the buy page, which is illustrated below.


I have added the red arrow to show the only difference in the two page types. "Why is this important?" I hear you ask. This small change, resulted in a 300% increase in sales for the items with variations versus the single item listings. It appears that users want as many of the final choices, regarding their purchase, to be left as late in the buying process as possible.

Dovetail understand that UX elements like those above, are critically important to the success of an application. Mossy Breen has invested time and energy becoming our in-house expert on UX Design, and is currently developing several next generation applications incorporating both SEO principals and UX Design principals.

UX London

I had the pleasure of being sent to UX london last week. I did not know what to expect from the conference, but though I would see some great talks and meet some other user experience designers.

Here are some of the stand out talks from my time at UX london. Overall I found the experience to be incredibly inspirational, where I listened to some amazing speakers and got to meet a lot of like minded User experience designers from all over the globe. To say I was “buzzing” after the 3 days would be an understatement, and it wasn’t just the high quantity of excellent coffee :)

Tom Hulme - Design disrupted

Tom threw a curveball for the first session of UX London and talked about something he happened upon over the weeks previous. The topic took the direction of desire paths, and he applied the concept of urban/spatial planning to deliver a very informative talk. Desire paths can be described as paths or uses of a “system/service” that were not specifically what the designer/engineer had in mind. The most obvious case is in open spaces when people will walk the shortest distance rather than the intended designed pathway.

desire paths

Desire paths can be applied to software development where users use your system in a different way than what you would have intended. The measurement and capture of these “desire paths” is important when evolving a system, as the user can guide the product roadmap in the way they use the product. Suddenly capturing/recording usage patterns that were not immediately obvious to the goals of the software can uncover great insight into the potential for a product/system.

Even the simple task of adding a search box to an application can unearth details about the expectations and wants of the end user.

Lean UX and Design - Jeff Gothelf

Jeff spoke about lean design techniques, and some great standout points about lean product development. For example user testing an iPad app with just a PDF. Making assumptions about user behaviour. Sometimes going with your gut and testing those gut decisions early, followed by quick iterations. Easily pivot ideas because the lessons are learned early and before any large investment.

Building a consistent user experience across government digital services - Ben Terrett

Some of the talks were used as showcases for excellent projects completed or underway. This was an extremely inspiring talk about changing the entire government online platform in a very lean and a very clean way. The GDS team grew inside the government and is slowly taking ownership of all digital services supplied by the UK government as GOV.UK.

Some examples of the type of information they removed from the government sites and how they refined the experience to suit the user needs rather than the government goals. The results are an extremely easy to use site, which delivers a very large amount of content.

“A consistent but not uniform design”.


What happens when the agency doesn’t go home? - Tim Malbon

Tim is an extremely entertaining speaker and his talk was extremely engaging. He discussed a skype in the classroom project which made-by-many worked on. This project was, again, a very lean oriented project, where they spoke to teachers early on in the process, involved them in the process and iterated through ideas quickly.

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