1st April 2020

7 UX tips for unpredictable times

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Ross Britton
Website Experience Director
Read time: 6min
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We all know we’re living through some of the most uncertain and unpredictable times in a generation, and there is a lot to think about when you’re planning what direction to take your business next. How you prepare for the next 3-6 months is going to be crucial and with the fabric of our daily lives changing, your digital presence needs to shift alongside the changing nature of consumer behaviour. This is true across your entire customer funnel, but especially so when it comes to your on-site user experience and how you communicate your brand to the wider world. Here’s a few top tips to get you thinking:

 1. Put an accessible message front and centre on all landing pages

This seems obvious, but initially some businesses wanted to pretend it was ‘business as usual’ before they quickly realised addressing the users concerns straight away was a necessity. Rule number one of UX is of course to empathise with the user, and top of everyone’s want and need list before they transact at the moment is – ‘how will the current situation affect my purchase?’.

Owning the issue and making your status visible is key. Address user concerns and questions immediately, ensuring the message is consistent across your whole site, and fit for where they are in their decision-making process. For example, on a help page ensure you communicate average waiting times for responses, or any expected delay in delivery times. Communicate key criteria that means queries will be fast tracked, so you are actively supporting the most vulnerable.


2. Be mindful of your other notification messages

Web pages can often be crammed full of notifications and tabs with invasive cookie messages, feedback tabs, pop-in surveys, sticky CTA’s and much more. Including an effective covid-19 message is challenging as it will need to compete in already crammed real estate.

When placing your notifications make sure you test across devices to make sure your message isn’t overlapping with your survey tab or taking up 75% of the screen on certain mobile devices. Below is an example you could argue is both good and bad. Admiral provide lots of useful information, but it’s highly invasive when placed alongside the cookie bar, and the language used could be considered a little alarming. Compare this to Eventbrite who have a message that’s better integrated with the website, is less invasive, and conveys a more reassuring tone.

 3. Get rid of your corporate speak. Communicate plainly and reassuringly

This brings us nicely onto language and display. In this time of uncertainty business jargon doesn’t provide reassurance. Users need clear, descriptive and concise language that they’re used to. Familiarity is key in UX. Using terms and language users expect helps foster a relationship between your brand and user that builds trust, and during more uncertain times like these, trust is essential.

The Eventbrite example is a great one. It conveys a helpful and caring tone concisely, whilst also providing links away to resources for 2 different user groups.

4. Use distinct but unalarming colours & iconography

Whenever you’re designing a new section or message for your website, a key challenge is how to make it stand-out whilst not overshadowing your primary CTA’s and sticking to the brand guidelines. The current situation means you want your covid-19 message to stand-out, but how do you do this using a 3-4 brand colour palette you’ve probably tried umpteen different combinations of? The answer is to do something a little bit different, outside your normal comfort zone.

Take the Staysure message below. It’s not using an existing brand colour, but the light yellow tone means it’s clearly distinguishable from anything else, and provides a reassuring feeling, allowing the text to be easily read and the message to speak for itself. It uses an exclamation mark to make it clear it’s important, but not by using a red warning message that would achieve the opposite!

5. Tailor content to changing consumer behaviours

Personalisation is a huge topic of discussion in UX and CRO, but produces new challenges given the UK is now on home lockdown. Being at home means consumer behaviours are naturally going to change. Whereas users might have bought tickets to music festivals before, which required tailored content around camping equipment, people are now at home and looking at ways to make their home life more comfortable. Brands need to react to help fulfil these changing needs.

Take Amazon. Their homepage has now changed to focus on leisure gear, casual and cosy clothes, pyjamas, and slippers. Their content has changed to fit the ‘new normal’ of our situation. Other brands have reacted similarly, but the key is to monitor a variety of trends and be proactive when you see consumer behaviours start to shift.

Data Studio dashboards to monitor where you see increased organic traffic levels, and Google Sites where you can pull Google Trends data into one place is a sensible place to start.

6. Remove distracting movements or animations

Video has been a big talking point in the last 12 months, as has engaging with users through descriptive animations, but you might want to consider how this adds value at this time. Replacing or demoting your 30 second ‘who we are’ video with a reassuring message might add more value in the short-term.

This could form part of your CRO strategy, depending on your website traffic, to see how a helpful and empathetic explanatory message impacts conversion vs your standard explainer video or process animation.


7. Be a positive and optimistic example for everyone

During these troubling times some people will be feeling understandably down or anxious and will look to brands or platforms they love to lift them up. Being a calm and positive voice can only do good. A short message or photo showing how you’re helping your local communities or providing some more light-hearted news might light that spark of optimism somebody needs to help lift their day. If we as marketeers and businesses show our strength and resolve as a community, we’ll all come out the other side stronger for it.

On the note of the lighter side of the news, check out the pets of equimedia who have been getting a lot more love lately!