In this post, I will discuss compatibility, performance and security testing as important parameters of UX website testing.
In the previous post, I covered the first group of website testing parameters. In this article, I will discuss compatibility, performance and security testing.
Check how your website is rendered through different browsers and if the website functionality is maintained. You surely do not need to cover all existing browsers, however, the website should be compatible with the essential browsers and browser versions. In case you have visitor statistics from the past, you will know which browsers your visitors use (this may differ e.g. depending on the business you are in). Otherwise, you can use available statistics, such as by W3 (https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php). By the way, instead of installing all the browsers, you can just turn to one of browser testing tools (Browser Sandbox, Ghostlab, etc.)
Device compatibility at a higher level means mobile-friendly layout and functionality. At a more granular level, it means compatibility with most often used devices, in particular with their screen sizes and resolutions.
Statistics on operating systems (device platforms) can also be found in your previous web analytics reports, or, in the absence of those, on the Web (here you can also refer to W3 website).
The last point on compatibility refers to the most common OS, browser and device combinations. Also, here you can use professional testing tools without having to buy hundreds of devices.
Load testing examines how a site would perform at peak loads (extremely high user activity), stress testing may stretch the site beyond its limits or well beyond an expected peak load.
Take preventive measures in order for a website crash not to happen (use a reliable hosting company, cautiously make code changes) or to restore your website quickly in case it does crash (making a backup).
Website speed greatly influences not only user experience but also how your website is ranked in the search engines. For determining the site speed you can again turn to Google Search Console, but there are a lot of other tools out there.
Login security guarantees that only logged-in users can view certain areas of your site, but also that each user may only use their unique username and password.
Form validation means that only valid information can be entered. It is essential that your website’s code cannot be manipulated through form fields.
Internal website files should not be available to external viewers unless you want some of them to be accessible (such as .pdf files for download). Also, be careful about any transactions involving file uploads to prevent visitors from uploading executable files.
SSL enables secure file transfer between a server and a client and is a crucial feature of any up-to-date website. Using SSL causes that the links in the browser appear as https://. In case SSL is not present, website visitors will get a warning from most browsers.
This is by no means a full list of measures to protect your website from hackers’ attacks, so check logs of important transactions and error messages to identify any security breach attempts. Abnormal user behavior can sometimes be identified through your web analytics data.
Using the framework shown above, you will be able to test the most important UX/UI parameters of your website before or just after it goes live.
This model is an extension of Aaker’s model for leadership brands, mentioned in his book “Brand Leadership” (by Joachimsthaler & Aaker, 2001).
Leadership brand types
First, let us define leadership brands. A leadership brand inspires employees by setting high expectation levels. It also provides additional benefits to consumers – both emotional (empowerment through brand association) and functional (high quality standards). In the table below, I will demonstrate how leadership brand types position themselves and what their USPs are generally based on.
Here is how you can use this model for building a branding strategy.
Analyze your competitors. Is there a predominant strategy they are using? A lot of times, companies go by the “industry standard”, thus selecting the strategy common in their niche.
Investigate if you can use another strategy to differentiate from your competitors (provided you have the resources for that).
Do market research (e.g. focus groups) to verify if your strategy resonates with the target customer.
Launch the brand, monitor and evaluate the results.
Let us take an example of a B2B market for industrial cooking ovens. The majority of producers and distributors base their branding strategy on the “power brands” method, featuring qualities of their products and what they deliver.
A somewhat fresh approach would be to use “explorer brands” strategy. For example, talking about how the food industry professionals can benefit and produce better quality food for the end consumer. For example, Baxter markets its ovens by stressing how the ovens can be used to produce the desired result: “We understand that advanced technology is there for one thing: to help you create an authentic experience for your customers”.
An even more daring strategy would be to use “icon brands” strategy. One of the leading brands in this segment, Rational, is deploying this strategy. Although it features the products on its website, it rather focuses on being passionate about food production and experiencing the world of professional cooking. MAM brand (pizza ovens) clearly uses the Italian origin of its brand as its USP, featuring Italian lifestyle and cooking and stating “Italian product. Italian technology. Italian taste” on its website.
It is also thinkable to come up with identity brands strategy in this segment (e.g. personifying the brand or centralizing the brand around the personality of its founder or a brand ambassador). For example, BULL Outdoor Kitchens uses the logo featuring a bull, thus personifying its brand “Don’t underestimate the power of the BULL”. This makes the brand stand out from the competition and creates a strong image in the minds of customers.
As follows from these examples, you can use the leadership brand model to create or to optimize your branding strategy, independently of the market segment you are operating in.
If you have any questions about branding or building a brand, do not hesitate to contact me!
As I have mentioned in my previous posts on marketing strategy, one of the most important things you do in marketing is researching, formulating and communicating your USP – unique selling proposition (sometimes called a unique selling point).
What is a USP?
USP in marketing is a short phrase that highlights the main benefit for your customer, is unique to your company or product and makes the customers choose you over the competition. USP may, but does not have to, be identical to your company slogan. USP is directed at the customer and is the core of the marketing communication strategy.
The USP can be formulated for your company, product, service or brand. It includes one or maximum two points and is never a list.
There are different approaches to finding your marketing USP, below I will describe three most common approaches and provide you with examples. I will also outline some typical mistakes.
The first approach logically focuses on customers and what they perceive as valuable.
Who are your customers?
This includes correctly segmenting the market you are in and selecting the appropriate target segments. Do not try to position your product for too many segments at once, focus is the key to success in marketing.
What is important to them?
Try putting yourself into your customer’s shoes. A good exercise for this is creating buyer personas, as this helps to understand the target customer better and even develop more empathy towards them.
What wants and needs do your customers have?
An obvious way of finding out what represents value to your customers is asking them about their wants and needs (i.e. doing a marketing survey). However, this will be only be the top of the iceberg. Generally, when formulating your USP it is better to go a level deeper and consider more hidden (secret) needs.
For example, the Rituals brand is built around the need for relaxation and escaping from stress instead of a very basic need of keeping one’s body clean.
How do they make buying decisions?
According to neuromarketing, people are often driven by subconscious stimuli that have little to do with their rational decisions. The rule of thumb is: the lower is the price, the less rational is the buying decision. (Think of candy and chocolate bars at the cash register).
In case of larger sums, customers tend to rationalize the decisions more, sometimes taking days or weeks to compare price and quality of similar products. However, what is considered a high price buy will largely depend on the income or the psychometric qualities of your target group. Besides, even rational decisions can be influenced by marketing tools.
Why do they buy your product?
If you already have a product that enjoys customer acceptance, make it part of your USP. If your product solves a particular customer problem, this has obvious value to them. For example, the USP of Walmart is “Every day low prices on a broad assortment – anytime, anywhere.” The reason why customers go to Walmart is that they are able to find a large range of products at guaranteed low prices. In addition, Walmart in the US offers a good store coverage with over 5,000 stores. It also offers its products online.
How do targeted segments differ from one another?
Sometimes it is not possible to communicate a USP that will work across all customer segments. Depending on how different the segments are, you might need to come up with a different Unique Sales Proposition for each segment.
When doing competitor analysis, you can pay attention to the following points:
– The range of products and services they offer
– The target customer segments
– The marketing channels and marketing instruments they use
– What unique value they try to communicate to customers through their marketing
Having looked at several most prominent competitors, you will find some key differences between you and the competitors (whether real or perceived).
What are you doing or can you do better than your competitors?
During a thorough competitor analysis, you will find out what they are currently doing better than you and where you can possibly learn from them (benchmarking).
During your analysis you are also likely to find some “weak spots” of your competitors. For this, you can use, for example, reviews and customer opinions. Dig deeper to find if this is something that you are already doing better (or can do better).
Why should customers choose you over the competition?
When formulating your USP based on Competition approach, select something that both makes you stand apart from your competitors and is relatively difficult for them to imitate. This will eventually come back to customers because your USP should induce them to choose you over the competition.
The next approach focuses on your company and the unique capabilities you have.
What do you do?
Start with listing all products and services you currently offer or would like to offer in the near future. The list may get quite long, but this is just the first step.
What do you do especially well?
After you have a full list of what you could possibly do, select the areas where you really feel comfortable and possess a high level of expertise. Ideally, this should not be a kind of tacit knowledge that only one person has but something that can be shared and transferred between team members.
How is that valuable?
Analyze, what products or services are already popular within your target audience and what makes them sell so well.
What is difficult to copy?
Your USP should not only reflect what you can do especially well but also set you apart from competitors. The unique quality of your product can be real (e.g. a patented recipe or a geographic origin of a product) or perceived (a strong brand). For example, part of Chanel’s USP (female liberation and wearable haute couture) is the unique personality of its founder, Gabrielle Chanel.
What don’t you do?
A successful brand positioning always includes a target segment. There is nothing more dangerous for your brand and your USP than trying to serve too many market segments. This dilutes your marketing message and leads to waste coverage during any marketing campaign.
Compare these USPs by two different IT companies: “Creating value for our customers with our expertise” vs “Innovative IT-solutions for Retail and Logistics”. I think that the second one offers much more clarity and is more attractive to their target customers.
What is your company mission?
Mission is basically a reason why a company exists. This is the value it brings externally (customers & stakeholders) and internally (employees & shareholders) on a day-to-day basis.
What is your vision?
As opposed to mission, vision is future-oriented. It is a description of an “ideal self” of a company or where it wants to be in the future. A vision should be (@robert.lueders):
– Easy to remember
– Clear to understand
– Oriented towards your primary goal
Sometimes, mission & vision statements resemble the USP or even replace it in the company communication. Although they can be interrelated, the essential difference between them is that mission and vision are directed internally reflecting company philosophy and the way things are done.
The USP, on the other hand is what the company wants to communicate externally toward the target customer. Besides, if a company offers several products geared towards different customer groups, it may have several USPs, however, it will only have one mission and one vision statements.
Some USP ideas
Below I will list some ideas that can be used for creating your USP:
Exceptionally large product variety
Offering exclusive products symbolizing status and wealth
Providing high standards of security or reliability
The lowest price in the given segment or for the given type of product
A complex product or technology made easy to use
Saving time for your customer
Doing good by selling the product (e.g. fair trade)
Providing flexibility and customized solutions
Making the process of utilizing the product or the service enjoyable
Expertise for a given (niche) topic
Unique company or product history
Local company with high awareness of the local market
Mistakes in USP
And last, but not least, I will list some typical mistakes in formulating your USP:
Ignoring your present state (how you position yourself now)
Choosing a USP that is too different from your present market positioning you will cause confusion and diminish the credibility of the USP.
Being too generic (selling everything to everyone)
If someone completely unfamiliar with your company hears your USP, they should get an idea of a) what you do b) who your customers are. Thus, avoid too generic USPs such as “improving your life”.
Not considering the customer
Independently of what approach to creating a USP you will choose, you should by no means disregard the customers and their needs.
Including too many benefits into a USP
A USP should not include more than 1-2 benefits. These are the key points you focus on, the ones that stand for the highest customer value. Do not dilute your message by including too many points into your unique selling proposition.
Not being unique (different from competition)
In order to cut through the clutter, you should try to avoid “standard” phrases and formulate your USP in a more unique or creative way. E.g. the Red Bull energy drink uses the phrase “Gives you Wiiings”
Ignoring the market trends
Sometimes a USP needs to be changed or re-formulated over time due to the changing market trends, new technology, changes in the tastes of your target audience or in case of a major event that affects your industry. For example, due to the increasing importance of environment protection, some brands started to use USPs highlighting the sustainability of their products.
Not being truthful
When working on your USP, always make sure that it connects to reality. Negative customer opinions can spread really fast nowadays, so it is essential that the benefit you claim really exists.
As a final thought, I would like, once again, to hightlight the importance of selecting the right USP that reflects your internal expertise, presents value to your customer and sets you apart from competition.
Cooper (1992) talks about fifteen critical success factors for innovative products, based on the NewProd Study. In this short article, I want to describe several reasons why innovative projects fail.
The product/service developed does not have a real competitive advantage against competing products (also substitutes) and does not offer any added value for the customer. In this case, you have to compete on price, which is often not possible for innovative products due to high R&D costs.
The target market is unattractive and the product is not scalable to other markets (including the markets abroad).
The necessary research on the target market, as well as financial and technical feasibility of the project had been skipped or insufficiently conducted before the project was pushed into the pipeline. There was too much rush in implementing the project. Think of the time-to-profit, not time-to-market.
The product or service were not defined clearly from the start (including technical specifications, distribution channels and market positioning). I think the reason behind it is the desire to leave the side door open for sudden changes. But without any clear definition the project cannot be successfully managed by a cross-functional team.
The project team members cannot (missing competencies) or are not willing (missing understanding) to work on the innovative project. The human factor must not be underestimated!
The company has too many projects in the pipeline, the decisions to “kill” do not take place on time. This leads to the resources being spread too thinly and insufficient time and money granted to the potential winner projects.
The organizational structure and the culture of the organization do not allow for the necessary flexibility in the innovative process. The innovative projects have no “advocates” in the company management.
Cooper, Robert. (1992). The NewProd System: The Industry Experience. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 9. 113-127. 10.1016/0737-6782(92)90003-U.