About Andy Curry and Branded3
Andy is head of UX and design at Branded3
– a search and digital marketing agency with a multifaceted approach that exceeds traditional SEO.
Branded3 has teams of experts across content, UX design, development, digital PR and PPC, among others. It’s also part of the St Ives Group, which owns agencies in other specialisms.
Andy Curry, Head of UX and Design, Branded3
Increase collaboration and client buy-in
Audit and optimise client projects
Why does Branded3 invest in user experience testing?
Google’s Panda update, among others, means that user engagement is one of the biggest factors affecting search rankings. Google’s algorithms mimic human evaluators who use a combination of engagement metrics to decide whether or not a page is useful to users.
Andy has no doubt about it – stuffing keywords is for dinosaurs. If you don’t optimise all aspects of the online experience in a complementary way, your SEO strategy is going to be pants.
If you don’t understand what users are looking for and what will engage them, you can’t design to keep their attention or meet their needs. That makes user experience testing and research vital to any effective SEO or digital strategy.
Focussing on users’ needs allows Branded3 to improve all aspects of a client's business – including customer experience and conversions – not just SEO.
How does Branded3 use remote UX testing?
Branded3 integrates remote UX testing into multiple stages of its working process:
- At the beginning of client projects, to increase collaboration and foster senior managerial buy-in
- During audits of client projects, to uncover hidden dangers and areas for improvement
- In conjunction with other tools and research methods, to get deeper insights
Using remote UX testing at the beginning of client projects
Every agency knows it’s not just the quality of work that matters to clients – how well the agency and client work together is equally decisive, if not more so.
Branded3 begins client projects with rounds of remote UX testing. This gives the project plan a clear direction and unites both sides under a common, user-centric goal.
After Branded3 took on a large international company as a client, it conducted user research. This led to the creation of personas and supporting documents, which gave insights into users’ behaviours and motivations, and informed the entire design process.
This helped the team create wireframes which kept the dev and content teams working in sync.
Andy’s team also ran stakeholder interviews, which turned senior managers into advocates for the project and made them feel like part of the process. This is vital, especially if these are the stakeholders who’ll be signing off the project.
Andy believes a really organised process is one where you get everyone involved right from the start – even if they’re in different countries or from different agencies. When the time comes for each team to do their bit, there won’t be mistakes or crossed wires.
Using remote UX testing when auditing client projects
Sometimes, clients have already designed their digital assets with other agencies before asking, “Has anyone checked whether our users want this?”
So Branded3 steps in to audit the client’s work and validate their design.
Branded3 assessed a client’s newly designed site by connecting user behaviour insights (gained from remote UX testing) with problem areas revealed in analytics. The team also ran face-to-face lab tests and directed their analysis with usability heuristics.
It became clear that the client’s website was suffering from deep-seated UX issues – lots of design over substance (the site looked good but people found it hard to use).
From an SEO point of view, this meant that certain design choices – e.g. cutting useful content to make pages look prettier – would cause some pages to disappear from rankings for key terms.
Branded3 could put a dollar value on the impact of this disappearance, based on the amount of traffic and sales opportunities the client would’ve missed out on.
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Combining remote UX testing with other tools and research methods
There are multiple dimensions to how users behave and what they need online – if you focus on only one aspect, you’ll draw incomplete and incorrect conclusions.
Andy emphasises the importance of using other tools and research methods in conjunction with remote UX testing:
Surveys are used to get large quantities of data on users, but Andy recommends caution regarding how honest (or not) users’ answers are. What users do (in the spur of the moment) is more important than what they say they’d do (hypothetically).
Lab testing with eye-tracking is useful for early prototypes. Remote UX testing can be used as a dry run for lab testing, to make sure your methodology is on point.
Face-to-face visits with users, in their natural environments (rather than inviting them into a lab). Watching how users behave and speaking to them is an incredible way to glean deep insights.
Face-to-face interviews with stakeholders, during which you can connect their motives with the users’ (and get buy-in) by showing them UX testing videos.
- Wireframing tools are used to create basic visuals, which can be UX tested and iterated on
- InVision is used to create design prototypes, which can be UX tested and optimised
What does Andy think about remote UX testing?
We used to run UX tests manually but it’s much easier with WhatUsersDo. We use the self-serve option and our UX team analyses the videos. Its very easy to set up and launch tests, then you just wait for the videos to come in. The WhatUsersDo platform makes looking through the videos and analysing them simple. It’s easy to make UX testing via the platform a part of our whole process.
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