Can Sliders be part of Seductive Design

What do we reckon about the use of sliders or slide bars on online application forms ?
Image
Personally, I’m not completely convinced. What does everyone else think ? Confused.com’s (see above) slider has been around for some time now and is actually ok (ie it looks like a slider and actually works quite well with a mouse when you interact with it.) It goes up in sensible increments which are helpful and breaks up the monotomy of the form. Wonga.com also use sliders and they are actually quite good fun to play with and work well with their whole marketing campaign…                                                                                                                                                                  
   
And I get the thinking behind sliders, make it FUN for the customer or prospective customer. It’s all part of the seductive design process, if you have a fun experience then you’re more likely to be engaged, seduced, sucked in and even talk about the website or app. I think it also depends on where it’s used, maybe if it’s an activity where the user is prepared to devote some time and actually is prepared to have fun then it could be a good thing.
I think some tasks, such as Car Insurance are tasks where you want to get it over with as quickly as possible and maybe fun doesn’t feature highly. But then again, I may be wrong  - if it can be just as quick and fun – then why not ? I guess the thing is (as with all great UX) is to get testing on real people as early as possible. It’s easy for business owners and stakeholders to get carried away with a ‘ swishy slider’.  I’ve even heard people talking about adding ‘ sound effects’ and they weren’t joking! But you can’t beat testing on the actual people who are going to use your product or service.
I notice however that Confused don’t use sliders on iPad or iPhone. Instead switching to the more traditional dropdowns with increments. So sliders may not research well on touch screen devices. In fact, in my view I bet they are sometimes damn irritating !
If companies are to implement sliders, my advice is to consider a similar approach to Confused where they can identify mobile and touch screen devices early and not serve a slider.
Also I think an overwrite facility where the customer can use a plus or minus button and also be able to over type into the slider field is a good fall back. Having said all that, if you have to have a fall back, then why do it…it’s almost like admitting the thing doesn’t work
Anyway, I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts and examples, good and bad of sliders in the digital world.
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M & S Banking

Am loving the new M & S Banking site. It’s light and simple, uses great imagery, and has all the content in one page which is labour (finger ! ) saving. The reward programme seems good although I could do with a bit more info to really intice me in.

I can see how much I need to earn to earn a point. What I can’t see easily (unless I’m missing something obvious) is what a point is worth and therefore how much in vouchers I’ll actually earn…

The other slightly confusing aspect is that the Bank’s website is a microsite and is divorced from the main M&S Money site. I can see why they’ve done it – the customer can be more focused just on the Bank product and registering interest – however it does leave the proposition slightly disjointed…- ie. what’s the difference between M&S Bank and M&S Money? other than the obvious I suppose.

Still, I guess many people won’t worry about that. Personally, the only thing that would stop me applying is the monthly fee – I know you can feed into a higher interest rate account if you have money to spare, but I’m just not ready to start paying for my current account – especially when there’s still free ones around…   

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Extendable navigation buttons

Quick note for future reference from the Nike site – I quite often use this site as inspiration and this is one I’ll keep in the locker for when I need it.  They have a clever button which extends to a choice button on roll-over state – so rather than having two buttons for men and women, they’ve actually only got the one button  - and actually rather than four buttons they’ve managed on two…and it has a nice ‘feel’ to it. As I said, one to bank for another day, subtlbut clever way of ensuring a clutter free page.

Nike buttons

Nike's clever buttons

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BBC launches new homepage Beta version

I think they’ve done it again – it doesn’t seem 5 minutes (it was 2008) since they last revamped their homepage – allowing us to personalise (a little) the website to our own liking and change our colour scheme.

Current Homepage

Image of current website

Current website

The BBC is set to launch a site that makes other website owners sit up and take note – oh yes – the bench has been truly raised and I’m sure we’ll see more sites adopting some of the Beeb’s ideas. 

New homepage in BETA

Image of BBC new website

New homepage

The page is much more focused on popular content and laid out like an online iPad magazine – it definitely has touchscreen in mind.

I like the carousel which has chunnks of content which you can flick through – the navigation feels easy – and allows a lot of content to be shown without taking up too much real estate.

I think some of the navigation rollover states could be better thought through as they have the same colour as the active state and people may miss the customise this page features however overall I do like it.  It’s a shame I think that the iPlayer shows don’t play ‘in the page’ and you get taken to a seperate section. I’d quite like to be able to view my clip/programme – expand the view if required – go off to the inforamtion page if required but also minimise down and keep on the same homepage. That’s pretty a pretty subjective view however and dosn’t mean their curent strategy is wrong.

Strangely the homepage dosn’t feel so great on an iPad – the swipe functionality doesn’t work on the carousel and the buttons back and next seem clunky on iPad. I haven’t reviewed the homepage on other web tablets but will do when I get chance. 

The homepage rebrand does make the other sections of their site seem terribly dated now – I’m sure it won’t be long before the news site and even the iPlayer site itself gets another refresh.

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‘Pimp my furniture’ by Ikea

I’m loving the new “thisismykea” website. It’s a site where you can personalise your Ikea furniture by adding a design from a number of artists and brands.

The website itself is slick with a really clear layout, a bold hero slot for the main messaging, and very clear call 1,2,3 steps on how to personalise your ikea furniture.

There’s a really clear message about why the site has been set up and I have to say it’s a really great concept. Here’s the main idea behind the site from Ikea

“  Don’t we all just love and hate Ikea at the same time?! We love the well-designed furniture. But we don’t like the fact that we see the same Ikea interior everywhere around us. We came up with the idea to make your Ikea more beautiful, unique and personal…”

This is a brutally honest assessment of the problems with becoming a popular and mass market provider. Everyone has the same thing, it loses it’s uniqueness and frankly it’s appeal. What Ikea have done is admit that this can be a problem and have come up with such a creative solution.

There’s some unique and beautiful designs to add to your furniture and once you’ve ‘pimped up’ your furniture you can upload a photo of it for others to see the imapct of the design and to make comment/ vote.

There’s step by step visual instructions and guidance, for example on how you can apply a specific artwork print to your  Ikea furniture. I love the staff section where they pick their favourite pieces of work, you can rate designs, submit your own designs and even make money from having your designs sold to Ikea customers.

The global navigation is well presented and I love the use of furniture icons with moving parts on hover. I didn’t get the colour choice boxes under the Explore the designs heading though – perhaps they were purely aesthetic !

My only two gripes are 1) The overly active hero panel – it takes a while to orient yourself when the main message refreshes  and it’s not immediately clear how to get it back if are reading it. There is some navigation within the hero panel however this isn’t particularly clear. Personally I’d make the user in control of this panel, ie only change it when the custonmer wants it to change and allow them to do this by having clear next and previous options.

My second gripe is that some of the photographs of the designed furniture aren’t always that clear – I appreciate these aren’t real photographs but superimposed however a few actual real photographs and different angles of the furniture with the designs would help with this.

Overall though these are minor arguably picky details. It’s a really great concept and a very well designed website. Well done Ikea.

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Natural History Museum – website saved by the Customer Contact Centre

I’m taking my son and his uncle to the Natural History Museum this weekend and as my son is completely ‘Dinosaur- mad’ I decided to book tickets online for the Age of the Dinosaur Museum. Now, the museum is free but the exhibition has a charge. The full amount, including booking fee would have amounted to £27.50 – however you can uncheck a box to not pay a voluntary donation (saving yourself just under £3) I know it’s not a lot but times are tight and considering there’s also a £1.50 booking fee and the fact I was paying for my uncle I thought why not – I’ll uncheck the box. However, then I couldn’t proceed. The transaction would work if I left the donate box checked, however this was now a principle thing – I wasn’t going to pay a donation just because the site wasn’t allowing me to avoid it. Alas, I tried over several days and on different browsers and was about to give up and just buy some tickets over the phone when I saw an email addreess to contact.

Now, I have very low expectations of email service given past performance of some other providers ( in fact most companies and amazingly smaller and self employed buisnesses). However, on this occassion I received a response – admittedly it took a whole day and a weekend to recive something but a really helpful and apolgetic email with several suggestions, one being that unfortunately when you uncheck the donation box it clears your ticket selection and you have to try again. Aha, that was it. I went back in and completed the purchase – feeling happier and saving myself £2.60. Good site – or rather good use of email response.

However, it shouldn’t be like this – Firstly the application process should never have gone live with this apprent blip. Secondly, where was the error handling – all I got was a next page telling me my transaction hadn’t been successful. It’s a good job I peresevered and knew my son really wanted to go to this event – I think they could have lost a customer very easily if this wasn’t the case.

Any how, now looking forward very much to the Age of the Dinosaurs experience !

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First Direct’s Lab

First Direct have recently unveiled their new First Direct Lab on their web site – a place where they can ask customer opinion on innovation and guage whether some of the projects their Digital Team and Marketing Teams are considering are potential fads and ‘ wastes of money’  or genuinely of benefit to the customer. They are asking for feedback on QR codes and for customer opinion on their new homepage.  It’s a shame they don’t show a bit more of their homepage, ie how the design impacts on the rest of the website – if at all. It would also be interesting to hear the thinking and objectives of the redesign – share hat with your customers and they may be able to try and help you. Overall though I think it’s a great idea and I look forward to seeing other websites try the same…

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