Man on mobile phone

From Gimmick, To Practical

Over the years we’ve seen several attempts to utilise built-in sensors to hardware to improve the user experience, but this hasn’t often been particularly useful – more of a gimmick. In some instances, there are examples with Smart TVs where hand gestures were tried and occasionally it made sense – you’re sitting several feet away from the screen and you’ve lost your remote down the side of the sofa.

For example, you could take simple actions things like swiping across the screen to change channels one at a time, but realistically how many people do that? There are hundreds (thousands even) of channels and the ones you want to watch are rarely next to each other, so unless you want a 20-minute workout to find your channel, you’re best off just finding the remote!

We then come on to smaller devices such as phones and tablets. Companies have delved into this space before and there are apps available that make gesture controls available, but I still wonder how useful these are. The likes of contactless gestures for example feel somewhat limited in usefulness when the device is in your hand. As a result, I thought I’d look more closely at how you can better utilise built-in sensors and settings of modern hardware to provide a better, more practical user experience in a GUI.

 

Utilising the Proximity Sensors

Proximity sensors are commonly used in devices now for actions such as sleep/wake of the device, making the screen inactive when you put it to your ear. This is to avoid accidental input when on the phone when on a call. However, how could this technology be better used to enhance the user experience?

Well, let’s just start by clarifying I’m not going to talk about swipeable carousels or contactless scrolling. One of the challenges on these smaller devices is balancing the hierarchy of information, providing clear CTAs and ergonomics.

In the world of e-commerce, for example, one of the core things any business wants you to do is add to the basket and checkout easily. However, throw in your upsells/cross-sells and special offers and the list goes on, and it’s easy to dilute the visibility of your key CTA. As a result, if you could make use of the proximity sensor so that the closer your finger was to the screen, you could resize elements (such as the ‘buy’ CTA) to draw attention to them and make it easier for a user to checkout.

The other practical use was in reference to ergonomics. There are typically some hard-to-reach areas which also happen to be common positioning for functions such as the menu and search.

Companies have experimented before in this space by having the ability to pull the top of the browser down closer to the main touch area, based on a combination of taps. The alternative approach to this however is to sense the proximity to the top of the screen and bring the functions in the top corners closer to avoid the user having to adjust their grip to reach.

 

 

The same thing applies to exit intent. Many websites utilise exit intent capture forms based on the positioning of the cursor on a desktop computer but utilising a similar function with the proximity to the ‘back’ button, for example, could serve a similar purpose.

While I’m talking about this, I should stress I’m not saying you would put all of these into one UI. After all, it would be easy to over-complicate the experience and ultimately make your site more confusing, but all could be relevant considerations based on your user stories.

With all this talk of using proximity sensors, however, you start to wonder how you could utilise some of these actions on a desktop too. One simple example would be increasing GUI elements such as CTAs based on the proximity of the cursor. This would provide more fluid awareness of UI elements than that of rollover states.

 

Ambient light sensors

Another sensor built-in to devices is the ambient light sensor. The purpose of this is to adjust the brightness and tone of the screen based on environmental lighting. This reduces glare and eyestrain of the user for a smoother experience. But what if you could read that lighting sensor and actually adjust the UI itself? Some simple CSS work would allow you to optimise your GUI and actually highlight elements in a much clearer way based on the intensity of the ambient lighting.

 

Dark mode

Dark mode is popular with many people now for the same reasons highlighted above regarding eye strain and glare. The other reason, however, is that people just think it looks cool. So, if you could identify a device was in dark mode, it may be worth creating a dark mode for your website. This would provide a seamless transition between OS and website and provide a more consistent experience for those users, encouraging them to spend longer on your site.

 

Camera

Before I get into this last one, I should call out this one is just a bit of fun – there are all sorts of question marks around security and performance, but what if you could use the camera to understand the user’s emotion whilst on your site? You could adjust the UI and tone of voice based on a user’s expression. Maybe you pick up frustration or confusion and you can proactively offer help on-screen. We use facial expression analysis with our biometric lab, but being able to present information, help or UI changes based on a user’s expression would give another level of hyper-personalisation.

 

As technology gets better and expectations rise, we’re always looking for new ways to improve the user experience. Where constant innovation is important for all of us and sometimes it’s just about a bit of fun, we should also look to see how these innovations can be put to more practical use.


Biometrics Space Between

An Introduction to Biometric User Testing

What is Biometric Testing?

Biometric User Testing is relatively new on the digital marketing scene. Don’t panic - it’s really not as scary as it sounds. Essentially, it applies the principles of psychological testingtechniques to the context of digital marketing. That translated? It is used to test and record the responses of users when interacting with retailers’ websites and apps. Both emotional arousal and stress reaction measures are used in order to achieve this and data is then collated to provide insights on the findings.

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Subject Connected to Galvanic Skin Response Kit while conducting Website User Session. (Source: Space Between Ltd).

How does Testing Work?

Testing a sample using qualitative and quantitative data, opportunities for these refinements quickly becomes apparent in the data reports. Subjects are selected to match the demographic profile of the website being tested. They are set up in a Biometric Laboratory, which guarantees consistency in the testing environment. The testing itself involves the application of various measures, including: Galvanic Skin Response (similar to polygraph testing in measuring palm sweat levels), Eye Tracking (what the subjects are looking at on screen), Mouse Tracking (what the subjects mouse is doing on screen), Facial Expression Analysis and Attention Analysis (captured with various user cameras during the testing session). Subjects also provide direct feedback on their experience using the website, usually in a series of questionnaires and surveys. Subjects are given several tasks to complete on the website, such as searching for a specific item, and proceeding to cart checkout. This testing process usually takes around one hour per subject and is highly valuable to highlighting key issues with eCommerce and functionality and overall usability. A deeper level of analysis can be achieved by repeating this testing process again with the same subjects, but this time performing the same test on competitor websites. This highlights the areas of success and improvement for an eCommerce site in the context of competitor presence.

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Subject Facial Analysis recording and data feed during User Session (Source: Space Between Ltd).

How is it Applied?

Unsurprisingly, Biometric Testing has seen its early adopters in the mega eCommerce Retailing Market (think the big online supermarkets like WholeFoods, travel booking sites like Skyscanner, and marketplaces like Amazon). The reason being that they all have huge traffic volumes and huge online sales in common. When it comes to refinement, or optimization of their eCommerce site, a small tweak can mean the difference of millions of dollars in sales. So their common interest is in complete eCommerce refinement for the ultimate User Experience. But the benefits of Biometrics are now being recognised by smaller businesses too, and rightfully so. In a culture where a smooth online experience is so vital to successful business, particularly when financial transactions are involved, public expectation is constantly growing. This isn’t just isolated to big business - consumers have come to expect this now of all eCommerce interaction.

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Biometrics User Testing - Applied  by the Big eCommerce Retailers (Source: Christian Wiediger, Unsplash)

Now What?

If you are in the business of eCommerce, it’s time to consider if Biometric Testing  is a marketing method you should be applying. As a general rule of thumb, the greater the site traffic, the greater the potential for achieving big results. So, if you are only just starting up, it may not be the right time for you. If you are a bigger business, with a robust online presence and marketing team, this could be your big opportunity for untapped growth in 2019. With User Experience and Conversion Optimization being high on the agenda for most digital teams, it’s time to consider if Biometrics Testing should become part of your ongoing digital strategy. Remember, when it comes to website traffic, users expect a seamless journey. The only way to truly test how your users interact with your site, and to identify any common pain points they may have, is to apply Biometric Testing.


CRO Biometrics Conversion Rate Optimization Article Space Between

The Future of Conversion Rate Optimisation Demands Biometrics

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) as we know it is limited. A part of the user testing process is to ask people what they think of your site and observe how they use it.

What is biometrics?

Where conventional user testing asks people to give verbal, conscious feedback while they use your store, biometrics measures the unspoken, physical response that's happening in the background. As with any scientific study, tests take place in a lab using specialist equipment. You'd be forgiven for not knowing a great deal about it since only a handful of biometrics labs exist in the world.

Inside the lab, people browsing your site have sensors attached to them; they track things like heart rate and monitor activity in different areas of the body. These calculations are then recorded on a computer system and examined by data analysts as well as trained psychologists. Like Yin and Yang, the statistical facts and psychological interpretation complement one another to form a complete picture.

Where do biometrics and CRO meet?

CRO involves conducting experiments. You might test two pages to see if page A converts better than page B, or use heat maps to see which area of a page gets the most clicks. What CRO experts can get frustrated by is the missing finer detail. Biometrics can highlight information that simply isn't possible to determine using other methods. Here are just three of the techniques used to uncover more data:

 

1. Facial expression analysis

Biometrics testing will challenge even the best poker face. It's used to monitor 34 points on the face, such as the corners of the mouth and the tip of the chin. Movement in these areas gives away our true feelings. Through machine learning 20 facial expressions can be determined, plus seven key emotions are detected, including surprise, contempt, and joy. You'll soon know if your content is dire or delightful.

2. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)

The amount of sweat people secrete gives away the secret to how people feel about a situation, knowingly or unknowingly. We're not talking about a jog in the park type of sweat, but subtle cues in the moisture level on the palm of the hand that can be measured using biometrics. Sweat can signal stress or arousal. Combine GSR with facial expression analysis, for example, and it's clear which it is.

3. Eye tracking and Areas of Interest (AOI)

Using biometrics, you can see how long it takes for a user to find the information you want them to see, then how long they spend looking at it. If it takes people a long time to find your call to action, that's quickly evident. Or if they linger over a message that—clearly—isn't clear. Armed with this information, you can move things around the page or change content so any barrier to conversion is taken away.

How can biometrics improve CRO?

Let's consider that someone reaches your call to action quickly but spends a long time looking at it. Maybe they don't want to admit to being confused in case they look silly, but GSR tests reveal they're feeling stressed and facial expression analysis detects fear. Biometrics reveals what's not being said, so you can edit out any points of confusion and guide users through your store without delay.

There is all manner of fascinating nuances that exist in our brain, which biometrics can help to capture:

  • Did you know the faster you take something in, the better the feeling you have about the source of the information? It's called Processing Fluency. Remove sticking points on your site so shoppers can glide through it quickly and those positive vibes are all projected onto your brand.
  • Researchers found the brain is seven seconds ahead of the actions we take. That means when someone adds to their cart, their brain decided to buy your product before you see this unfold with a click of the mouse. Biometrics can highlight the journey that precedes the click.

"By looking at brain activity while making a decision, the researchers could predict what choice people would make before they themselves were even aware of having made a decision." – Nature.com, 2008

Verbal mutterings and visual clues can only get you so far in your quest for more sales. Add biometrics user testing to the process and you add depth to your hypothesis. Rather than waste time on an incorrect assumption, you can work with greater accuracy to increase your conversions.

Is biometrics likely to replace traditional methods?

All user testing is about getting to know your customer better. For a site to be successful, you have to know their every foible. It's the reason why brands create customer personas and use personalization, so you can focus on what your customer likes the most and give them more of the things they want.

Biometrics testing lets you peek inside the minds of those consumers. Without this, results from conversion optimization experiments can feel incomplete. Biometrics is not a replacement for other user testing methods but does provide more meaningful insight into your buyer's behavior.

Current success stories

When HR GO Recruitment worked with British biometrics lab, Space Between, they saw a 153% increase in conversions. Advertising jobs online, HR GO used a sense of urgency in their copy. Yet instead of encouraging candidates to act quickly, biometrics tests revealed that people were stressed out by them. It had the opposite effect. Sweat production increased, as did heart rates. Facial postures and emotions were negative. A change in tactic increased revenue for the company by £2 million.

 


World Cup of Kits 2018 Winner Revealed with Biometrics

We've discovered the winner of the Kit World Cup using biometrics in our very own lab!

The 2018 Russia World Cup is upon us.

We've noticed a change this tournament... The kits have been getting far more focus than the football! What's not to love? That's why we decided to run our very own World Cup of Kits 2018.

We've taken all of the home kits in the World Cup this year and put them through the rigours of our Biometric Lab. This allowed us to gain some actual scientific data, which we've used to determine the winners and losers.

We've kept it authentic, and tackled the testing in true World Cup style, yes we have group stages, round of 16, quarters, semi's and a tense final!

Check out the winners, and losers, below.

NIGERIA AGAIN!

World Cup of Kits Wall Chart

Click below to reveal how Nigeria won in full resolution version.

We ran our testing sessions in the World Cup format so you can see how each team made it through the group stages, who sneaked through the quarters, got an easy ride in the semis, and went on to win... expectedly!

World Cup of Kits Wall Chart

BUT HOW?

The Process

So we've mentioned the lab...

Our lab is a collection of amazing tech that allows us to connect people up to our software. In this case we just focussed on eye tracking, though we can gauge emotions by measuring galvanic skin response. We didn't feel football kits would offer much of an emotional reaction, so left that one out!

The Process

HOW DID WE PICK

The Analysis

We ran each participant through every stage.

We gathered lots of data from each participant and collated it together to form our insights. These were scored on 3 key areas.

  • Average Time spent gazing
  • Average of Time spent fixating
  • Average of total fixations

Combining this data allowed us to see who statistically had the best shirt.

The Analysis