What is Agile?Agile is a reactive rather than predictive development method. The manifesto states four main values: 1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: While the agile method does employ various techniques, e.g. scrums, processes and tools are a means for creating more frequent interaction between team members and customers, not an end in themselves. 2. Working software over comprehensive documentation: While agile does require someplanning, there is more of a “dive in and get it done” mentality in order to ship a Minimum Viable Product(MVP). This reduces the amount of documentation from planning to post-ship analysis. 3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: With agile, the goal is to get things done quickly. For that, customers need to be on board and in frequent communication with the development team, not negotiating terms. 4. Responding to change over following a plan: There are few “straight paths” in agile. Work occurs in a series of iterations so that the team, clients, and beta users can test various elements of the MVP as it’s developed, and change course if necessary.
Why Agile is Good for DesignersWhile at first it may feel weird and even upsetting for designers to nix the upfront, static PSD, the agile method can really big a boon for the creative process. On the simplest level, it can get designers out of that pixel-level perfectionism that can delay delivery of projects for months, bring projects in over budget, and even impede the original brainstorming process. The agile method also allows designers to gain a continuous look at just how users interact with designs. This may lead to more low-level frustrations when, say, a whole day’s work needs to be re-envisioned, but it also prevents even bigger redesigns down the line when a client doesn’t like a finished product that may have taken months to develop. In the right situations, where communication is productive, agile can even lead to more creativity as both the designer and the client discover the true heart of the project as they go. Lastly, agile design will help designer work seamlessly with developers also using the method, promoting collaboration rather than silo-induced isolation. Let’s take a look at a few agile techniques and see how they apply to the design world.
Technique 1: Frequent IterationsWhile still essential, the information gathering, site mapping, wireframing phase in agile design should be seriously reduced, as should, really, every other phase of the design process. Instead, the design team should set goals for an MVP right up front, and then work toward achieving that MVP via a series of 1 to 2 week iterations. This means breaking tasks up into a series of smaller deliverables and tasks, placed into the categories of backlog, in-process, in review, and in production, so that the both team members and the client can constantly re-evaluate and re-prioritize. It also may be helpful for designers to focus on developing personas that can inform the ad hoc design experience. In order to really embrace this new process, it’s important to adopt the attitude of welcoming changed requirements, and being ready to set new goals, as long as they bring you closer to your MVP. You’ll also likely to do better if you forget static PSD mockups in lieu of sketches and easily changeable mockups. Overall, it’s best to start working with products from day one, something web designers will be better able to do if they work in browser.
Technique 2: Continuous IntegrationOne of the biggest pitfalls of the waterfall method is that a team could very well reach the end of a development cycle only to find that many moving parts don’t fit together. This can still be a problem even with agile’s many iterations, as there’s no top level plan to tie it all together. In fact, the more frequent a team’s iterations, the more important it is to do continuous integration. In the development world, this means integrating, running and testing code once a day, to make sure everything is aligning. Continuous integration is obviously important to do both on the design team itself, but it’s also a chance for designers who may be developing a greater sense of a project’s overall direction to guide the project’s holistic vision.
Technique 3: Constant Interaction with ClientsAgile design, just like the agile method at large, really can’t work without constant interaction with clients. Yes, I know, this might seem nightmarish to consider outside of any but those dream clients, who come equipped with a clear vision of what they want. But in many ways, agile is much more appropriate for the average or even difficult client, who can’t make a decision. With agile design, you’re bringing the client onto the team to test and re-prioritize right along with you, allowing designers to gain a much better sense of just what clients are looking for through interaction than the clients may even have themselves. However, it’s important that someone on the team act as the point of contact, so that designers can focus on their work. What’s more, there should still be clear leadership from the design team so the customer doesn’t yo-yo too much, or else the final product will be disjointed.
TakeawayDespite its many strengths, the traditional waterfall method just won’t work in today’s market, and it has the added detriment of playing into designer perfectionist tendencies. If the highest principle in the agile method is to “ship all the time,” why wouldn’t agile design benefit both customers and designers alike? Communicate well, build well, ship well, and take your design up to the next level. This article is from: webdesignledger.com
Quick and easy access to customer service and shipping infoEasy access to customer service and shipping information is an often overlooked feature of checkout pages. A new customer or someone not familiar with your brand will not necessarily know your shipping, returns, and various customer service policies. Once she’s hit the “checkout” button, a number of questions might arise. How long will shipping take? Can I return these pants if they don’t fit? Do I have to pay for return shipping or will a free label be included in my order? You might think that you’ve covered all of these questions with a comprehensive Customer Services FAQs document on your site. However, if the information isn’t clearly presented at the time of checkout, your customer may leave the page to look for answers to her questions, or she might abandon the site entirely.
Shipping InformationA prime example can be found in the checkout page of Nimli, a boutique clothing site. Shoppers are provided no indication of the following: what the shipping cost might be; if return shipping is free or something the customer pays for; or how long the customer has to make a return. In fact, there’s no visible link to shipping information at all.
Answer Shoppers’ QuestionsLet’s take a look at the checkout process of Bluefly. There’s a lot going on within their initial shopping cart page; some of the information is even a little distracting. But the key element is a box they include in the right column. It contains all the customer service and shipping information they think a shopper might need.
See Where Your Customers LeaveHow do you know if your customers are leaving their checkout in search of shipping or customer service information? Take a look at a clickstream in your analytics program. Start on your shopping cart’s initial checkout page and then look at where your customers go next. Follow the clickstream all the way through your checkout process and note which other non-checkout pages are pulling people away. You may see people going back to product pages to continue to shop or clicking on your homepage to look for more, but if your shipping, returns, or FAQs pages are getting a lot of traffic, it could be a sign that the information your customers are looking for isn’t readily accessible from the checkout pages. The bottom line: Include easy access to your shipping, returns, and customer service information on every page of your checkout.
Coupon codesCoupon codes or promo codes frequently hinder the checkout flow. With the rise of coupon code aggregators, there’s no shortage of places to turn when looking for discounts. However, just because customers often leave your site in search of deals does not mean coupon codes have to be the bump in your checkout process. First, if you don’t currently offer coupons, take the discount field off your checkout pages. It can always be added back in later. For those retailers who do use coupon codes, there are two main opinions about where to place the coupon input field. Some retailers present the coupon field at the beginning of the checkout process so that customers can see right away if their code is valid and what their order total comes to. Others move the coupon input field to the end of the checkout process, making it the last field before the customer finalizes the order. Neither solution is foolproof. Retailers who prominently display a coupon field on the first page of their checkout run the risk of losing customers who leave the site in search of a discount.
Shipping and billing informationIn the typical checkout process, much of the time is spent entering the billing, shipping, and payment information. The longer it takes the customer to check out, or the more confusing the process becomes, the less likely she is to complete the checkout. There are a number of places within the shipping and billing sections where a customer might get stalled depending on the layout of your forms.
Filing Out Your Address. Twice.Not everyone will have the same bill-to and ship-to address, but those who do certainly don’t want to type in their information twice. Don’t assume your customers will use a form field auto-fill. Require that a customer enters her billing information first, and then give her the option to check a box if the information is the same for her shipping address. If it is, let your platform duplicate the information for her. If she’s checking out as a registered user, make sure your platform is saving her billing and shipping info within her account. Next time she purchases from you, she’ll need to do even less.
TaxesNot all States have a sales tax, so if you are charging sales taxes on an order, be sure your customer knows that before he reaches the last page of the checkout. A shipping and tax estimator (based on zip code) is an easy way to provide shoppers a heads up.
Domestic and International OrdersIf you don’t do a lot of international orders, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how your foreign customers are interacting with your checkout process. But consider this: missing or confusing elements might be keeping your store from getting more international orders. No matter what country your business is based in, if you do accept orders from foreign customers, make that clear. Define which countries you ship to, what currencies are accepted, and how taxes and duties are handled.
Ch–check check it outWhen a shopping cart checkout is well-designed, customers almost never notice. They’ll breeze through the process and quickly complete their order with few hangups or questions. The best way to determine the health of your site’s checkout is by examining your analytics and turning to user feedback. You might get started by creating conversion funnels and clickstreams within your analytics package. You can also use programs like ClickTale or Userfly (read our review) that record session videos or screen captures to see exactly where people are making errors or getting confused when they try to checkout. If you want verbal feedback from users as well, order user sessions from UserTesting (read our review) and request that the participants go through the checkout process while describing what they find straightforward and what they find confusing. In the end, you’ll discover what is working and what might be keeping customers from completing their orders. After all, there’s always room to improve your site’s conversion rate.
The button and the link have co-existed together for a long time. The link vs. button debate is not really a battle of which affordance is better, but instead a question of when to use one over the other.When we look at the web, links outnumber buttons on most websites. The reason for this is because
- links are easier to create
- links are simple and sufficient
- links don’t overshadow content
- buttons take more time and effort to create
- buttons can come in different sizes, colors and styles
- buttons can sometimes overshadow content