Test everything ! That’s always and will continue to be a popular mantra of mine. And it’s still as true today as it ever was. A recent project I’ve been working on involved building a responsive form for a client. ” Don’t worry – It’s fully responsive !! ” we were told by the developers. I couldn’t resist a little look though- on IE,8,9,10,11,Safari, Chrome, Firefiox and then across various tablet and mobile devices including iPad,iPad mini, iPhone, Samsung, Nexus to name a few on native browsers, chrome mobile, and various orating systems. And boy am I pleased I did!! Just in the same way as you need to test across a wealth of browsers and not just Firefox, just because someone says the site works on mobile doesn’t mean it works across all the major mobiles/ tablets and their various broswers and operating systems…
There were too many issues with the prototype form to mention here, however here’s a selection of some of major (major meaning conversion would drop off a cliff!!) issues I found with the form.
1) Using Google Chrome on Android devices showed that the dropdowns weren’t working properly on the form. When you selected something it didn’t actually show the choice until the next field was selected. This was to down to the way the form handled inline field validation. Yet on Android native browser these dropdowns worked fine. Obviously if a dropwdown isn’t initially showing the value a customer has selected it’s gong to cause customer issues.
2) Recent testing on Samsung devices on the default browser showed gradients in fonts still aren’t always picked up – so the lovely graduated colours in the title of the form (probably pretty fundamental to the client and to the barnd team) was replaced by a large graduated block of colour !
3) There were issues with the form not being as responsive as you’d expect. Again different viewports and devices can throw up several issues and show that the site isn’t as responsive as you may think. Obviously with different viewports coming on the market it’s a good idea to review your site or projects on some of the key devices which are likely to access your site. A good example is the new iPhone 6 which will have a very slightly wider viewport than the traditional 320 in portrait view and means your site may not look quite so hot as it does on an older iPhone – 5 and below…
Emulators can be used however in my experience there’s nothing like having some of the kit available and to try and replicate the software settings you think your customers are likely to have. And keep testing, again and again until you know it’s right.
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…
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's clever buttons
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.
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
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.
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 !