How to ensure your website meets your customers behaviour and needs. James Keal #GoFarFast Show - Season 2 Episode 3.

How to ensure your website meets your customers behaviour and needs. James Keal #GoFarFast Show - Season 2 Episode 3.

Monday 8 Nov 21

Harmful website design practices

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) have issued a joint call against design practices that could undermine website users’ control over their personal information and restrict their choices.

These practices include language or presentation that push the user towards a decision (e.g. on privacy policies, cookie consent banners, and direct marketing sign-ups).

The ICO has stated that it considers it to be “an infringement of data protection law where design practices steer people to decisions that do not reflect their privacy preferences, whilst making it harder for them to choose more privacy-friendly options.”

It will take formal action where necessary to protect consumers, especially vulnerable consumers.

You can read the full position paper here, which includes examples of practices the bodies consider unacceptable.

In today's episode of the Go Far Fast Show, product design expert James Keal shares his advice on how to create a brilliant customer buying experience, what we should be doing with our websites to meet customers behaviour needs, and how to get customers to do what you want through on your website!

Whether you want to watch the show, read the transcript or listen to the podcast, you can access all of that right here. So grab a cuppa, and a notebook, and get ready to #GoFarFast!

Merlie: Hello and welcome we have episode 3 of season 2 of the go far fast show. Episode 3 season 2 already Aaron? My goodness! Well, this is of course our talk show for you our small business audience and it's designed to get you the answers to the burning questions of today, as always. We have a wonderful guest to introduce you to this morning, someone who's been on the Farillio journey since we started and I would trust our guest and his team with all the issues that Aaron and myself and you guys are going to be putting to him later this morning! Don't forget as always to like comment and subscribe as you go through, and of course if you want to get all of the extended questions and the extra bits that we'll be talking to today's guest about then pop over to the extended podcast, particularly if we don't get to the question that you want us to be asking here on the show. So, Aaron this one's going to be a doozy isn't it?

Aaron: It certainly is Merlie, I can't wait for this one. So as always, the name of the show is go far fast and that's exactly what we've got for you today! Today we have James Keal in ready for our questions and he's going to talk to us all about how to ensure our website meets your customers behaviour and needs. So, we've got some really juicy questions lined up. We're going to ask him all about his company Inktrap, and how that's all set up, before me and Merlie finally get the chance to understand some acronyms that we've never understood before, so we're looking forward to that one! Then as always, we're going to let James face our legendary community questions and you guys have come and given us some brilliant questions as always, so we can't wait for that. Merlie, can you let the wonderful audience know how the rest of format works?

Merlie: Yeah well, you've pretty much covered it Aaron thank you! So, Aaron and I will get James warmed up for you with some great questions and we're going to dig into a lot of the detail that comes from what James is expert on, which is how essentially to create a brilliant customer buying experience, what we should be doing with our websites, how we can really get customers to do what we want them to be doing on those websites. And then of course we'll look at your very specific scenarios and some great questions, some really common questions, that Aaron, I think you and I both see from our audience all the time, and James is going to give us the real answers! So again, like, comment and subscribe as you go through folks and I think we should really get James onto the show.

Aaron: James welcome to the show is so great to have you on board. We’re going to start with a quite straight forward question for you but we want to know all about Inktrap itself. So can you tell us all about Inktrap and how you came to cofound it with Sam Leicester. Cheers, James.

James: Hello Merlie and Aaron thank you so much for having me on the show. I'll talk to you a bit about Inktrap so Sam and I (Sam is my Co-founder) started in trap eight years ago when we were just finishing university we thought we'd like to eventually have our own agency one day, so what better time to do it when we literally had nothing to lose no other commitments, so we took a bit of a leap and ultimately it's worked out.

In the early days we were working on any graphic design work that we could get our hands on that was website builds, logos, visual identity's anything like that and after about six months we got our first app design job which was an app for free and cheap events in London - an app called Frugal - you might have used it I think a few hundred thousand people did. That was featured on the App Store which led onto lots of referrals and got us into the wonderful world of digital product design which is now what we specialise on. So, we're now a team of eight people who've got a couple of front-end developers, 6 designers, and then myself and Sam who do everything else - and as you can imagine this quite a lot to do. We are currently hiring a project manager who's joining us in a couple of weeks and some other non-production roles to finally take the burden of the admin which we've been weighed down with over the last few years so we can focus on growth and improving processes

Merlie: That’s absolutely brilliant and I think some of those demands definitely come to James from Farillio so anyone out there looking for a UX design agency - Inktrap couldn't recommend them more highly.

James, I think one of the things that it's really important to start off with particularly if you're new to the area of web design or web optimization i.e. really getting people to do what you want them to be doing with your website or indeed any app or technology product that you're building is to get to grips with the acronyms and the concepts that your industry use an awful lot. I mean we've got CX UX, UI and then you've got the sort of the concept phrases the ‘minimum lovable product’ that we're hearing more and more about the ‘minimum viable product’ the MVP and then of course you've got user research user testing there's a whole bank of them isn't there can you just pause a moment for us and explain what these actually mean and also why they're so relevant to any business that really does want customers to do the right things when they land on their website, landing pages or get involved with their app?

James: Yeah, it's really useful to have a solid understanding of the terms. If anything's help, you communicate with other people in the industry with other designers or developers, your marketing people. So, I guess the best thing to do is to plunge in with a few of them. I think for me, the biggest one. Is the customer experience known as CX. So these are my definitions now I'm going to give it depends on which blog you really think you'll get something different definitions, but my understanding based on the last eight years of experience are these and that is that CX is your overall customer experience from their kind of initial interaction with your brand when they first see an advert of your company, through using your product and signing up, all the way through to off boarding, which is something that's not often talked about, but that's when a customer kind of leaves your products. So, you want to make that a graceful experience as well as hopefully they continue to recommend you even end when they no longer need your product. So that's kind of the customer experience. The end two end interaction with your brand and can include things like calling up your support team or interacting with your marketing materials. Basically, anything that is a brand touchpoint they interact with.

And then underneath that we've got user experience design known as UX design. So, this is the customer interactions with your product specifically. Within that we kind of look at: what is the core user flow through your products and what features do we put in and introduce each step and as part of that we define what is the most important features and where they should be surfaced through your customer journey.

And then kind of another sort of sub-sector within UX is user interface design, which for me is very much part of the user experience design. So, by user interface, design or UI, we mean kind of what the interface looks like, the adding of the colours, the fonts, the typography - is it kind of quite a busy space? Is it very clean? What does it graphically look like? So that's kind of user interface design. Um, so yeah, that's kind of the pyramids at I see it in my mind of CX, UX and UI.

And then there's other terms like minimum viable products, MVP. So, this one you probably have heard quite a lot about, especially if you've got anything to do with digital products. So, this is the minimum feasible product that allows you to fulfil your initial objective. For instance. It's normally based on a hypothesis, might be that people want to chat with each other using their Apple Watch, for instance, and there might be a hypothesis and in order to test that, you need to create a prototype of that experience that works to make sure that people actually did use that to give it to people to use trial, and if they use it, then the prototype is done what you intended it to do which is proved that there is a need for this product and that people would actually use it with that particular implementation.

The idea with prototypes is that their ultimately disposable, so once they proved what you need them to prove, then you move on and you build another version. Although it doesn't always work like that often make evolve overtime. Then there is another term which is minimum, lovable product. Now this term was introduced to encourage people to create products that form an emotional connection with their customers, as opposed to just being functional and technically working, often a product needs to do more than that. Because it might work well, but if people don't want to use it or not motivated or they don't understand why they should use it, they're not going to - and you're not going to get many people on your platform. So, the term was coined, ‘minimum lovable products’ to encourage people and remind them that their minimum viable product often has to, not only functionally work, but kind of look good and feel nice to use as well because if people aren't using it, it's not viable.

And then there's other term, ‘user research’, and so that's when you investigate who your users are, what their problem is primarily and start to think about solutions to solve those problems.

And then another term is ‘user testing’, so that's when you test potential solutions to those problems and spend as much time with your customers as possible to make sure that what you're working on is actually suitable for them and ultimately works and that they can use it too. So yeah, those are kind of a few terms. Is there any others that you'd like me to cover?

Merlie: I think there’s a whole Bank of them, but Aaron won't forgive me if I don't get to his questions too, but thank you James I mean it is really important that that we all understand what those acronyms and concepts are when we're building products, when we're thinking about the experience that we want our customers to have, indeed, we should be thinking very much about that from the get go so thank you, Aaron. I'll pass the baton to you.

Aaron: Thanks again James I mean finally I think when I'm in those meetings I can actually understand what they’re going on about now because I've just sat there before going ‘yeah, that must be right’.

So, thank you very much for putting that through. And as Merlie said, it's about our science, isn't it? So now we can understand what the terms mean, we can understand the science behind it.

So, I think this comes nicely into next question, because there is a lot of confusion of what the terms mean and what it is that we're trying to overall achieve and one of the other confusing aspects is written on design thinking, so can you explain what this means too and how we can apply it to our own business planning?

James: Yeah, sure, so design thinking is all about putting the customer at the heart of the decisions that you make and ultimately thinking what is best for them. And these could be decisions from company financial decisions all the way through to product decisions about what features to include and what they should look like. But yeah, always making sure that there is someone in the room championing what your customer needs and the problems that they're having to represent them. So yeah, the kind of term - it's been around for a while now - but yeah, it kind of builds on the back of making sure that you are delivering something that people ultimately want and constantly thinking about what problems are we actually setting out to solve and bringing your potential solutions back to that so that kind of is basically what design thinking is.

I think it's being banded around quite a lot recently, and if you Google it, you'll find a bit about people saying things like, ‘oh, it's just basically common sense’ but there was a need to give it a particular name and to kind of champion designers on teams and put them into leadership positions as well because a lot of bigger companies became so detached from the actual customers that they're serving and they needed some representation in the room when they're making the big decisions, so kind of champion the needs of the users. So that's where the whole idea of design thinking came from. But ultimately it is just considering what is best for my customer because generally if you got happy customers that are well served, then you're going to make more money.

Merlie: Fantastic, and never a truer word spoken. And now we're going to move on. I think Aaron to your favourite part of the show folks. We do have additional questions that we will be asking James on the extended podcast if you're interested in understanding pirate metrics.

I'm going to be asking James to channel his best Jack Sparrow impression so we can do the aargh metrics forgive me, can't help myself, but the double A, the treble R metrics which are really crucial to measuring customer success and the success of your customer experience efforts as well as a couple of other questions about what you do when you get a new website, projects and what James does to help his clients on new web projects. They will now fall into our extended podcast. So, Aaron, do you want to kick us off with the community questions? James, are you ready?

Aaron: Thanks Merlie yeah again as I said beginning our community of have come and bought some brilliant question so this first one is exactly that. This particular member of our community has got an idea for a business and now needs to do some testing with customers can you give me some advice on the best way to do research on customer testing?

James: Yeah, sure. So, what we do is a validation phase with a lot of our clients. Something we've been doing in recent years that has worked out really well. And within that, basically what you want to do is to cheque that you're heading in the right direction with your idea as efficiently as possible and as quickly as possible. So, if it isn't the right approach then you can. Change your approach or stop altogether an if it is the right approach, then you know as quickly as possible, which is great.

So probably what I would advise is to set up a smoke test to test to see if people actually want to use what you've got in mind. So, first thing you do to do that is to understand where your customers are. This is quite easy with digital products, because yeah, you kind of find the often the social network where they congregate or the Reddit groups, or subreddits, or like Facebook groups or things like that or even the kind of Twitterverse that they exist in. And so you kind of find out where they are and then what you can do is put small budget aside for ads to promote your new idea and then you can kind of see how many people interact with those ads, click through to a simple landing page that you created and then have a sign up field to kind of, ‘Product coming soon, sign up for more information’ and then you can see from the number of sign-ups that you get and the type of people that sign up whether you're going to have to have any customers basically. So, you don't need to build the first version of the product straight away, but you can create a smoke test to kind of pretend that it's on the way and nearly there to get people interested and enthusiastic about it, and then you can gauge how popular it's going to be, and then you can also work out how many customers you'll need to make it kind of viable. If you've got some rough kind of overall costings in mind for the build. And then yeah, based on the number of people sign up, if it's just one or two, then maybe you got your marketing approach wrong with the smoke test or maybe there's just not the volume that's going to make it a viable business, but if you get hundreds of people really keen, then you know you're probably onto something there. And you can also use the contact details of the people that signed up, you can contact them and say look, we would love to get you involved in helping shape this product so then you can form user interviews with them and do some user tests as well with some initial prototypes. So, it's a really great way of very quickly validating whether you're going to have any traction with your idea and then also generating some power users at the start who could fall in the formation of your community to promote your product going forward.

Merlie: That's brilliant advice, it’s very much what we did at the beginning of Farillio and what we still do together, right? James today, even now when we've sort of got new iterations, new ideas, new features, new channels to be done, that processes is cyclical, isn't it? You keep you keep going once you started.

James: Yeah, absolutely. So last thing I want to do is spend all your money building a product which isn't quite right. You want to establish the product market fit as quickly as possible and then commit to kind of building the first version – ‘the mvp’ making sure that is actually solving people’s problems and that they are likely to want to pay for as well.

Merlie: Absolutely. Right well, I've got the next question for you James I really like this question actually because I hear this a lot and I know this is a real pain point. The question goes like this: I've had a website for a while and it's okay, I get decent clickthrough rates from other places where I'm promoting my business, but when people land on my website they don't stay long. What can I do to change this and get them to see all the things that I want them to see?

James: So yeah, that's quite scenario I think. It's common most websites that you get a high what's called a bounce rate where people come onto the site and then pretty quickly leave within a few seconds? That's not always necessarily a bad thing because not every single person visiting the site is going to be a relevant prospect or customer for you. So yeah, it's often not a bad thing for lots of people to be just leaving straight away because you're just basically filtering them out.

But let's assume that you are missing out on some potential customers there. So, my advice would be to be as succinct and concise as possible on the site about the benefits that you're providing, and then what that service is. So, kind of putting the ‘why’ - why people should buy this product or use this service. At the forefront and at the very top of the site. And make it very clear.

And often the best way to be very succinct is to make. Make a short video and put it into the top of your website. People can just play and then get a very quick understanding of what your product is and the benefits that it provides them and why they should use it and then often on the homepage I find it's best to order the content based on what you want to communicate. So put the most important things at the top and then kind of lead that into the next parts, people Scroll down and then as they read through their building up more information about your product and the benefits that it offers and then hopefully by the end you’ll have a call to action at the bottom, and then that's when they'll sort go into the signup flow or the more information flow. So, I guess to summarise and be succinct as possible and think about really what it is that your product or service does, which is really good and why people should have it and the benefits that it provides, and then put that front and centre at the very top.

Aaron: Yeah thanks I think kind of pushing on a little bit from that as well I think what we've certainly finding out the way we created our website and how we got to where we are now is having someone like yourself as an outside looking in can sometimes be a huge difference can’t it.

I mean for us we thought we had the best website in the world because we were passionate about what we were doing and everything else, but when someone looked at it from outside looking in, they were going ‘yeah, it's great, but this doesn't quite work and that doesn't quite work.’ And I think you need that. Don't need experts to be able to go in and just look at it in that sort format. So really appreciate you kind of bringing that into play there.

I think this follows on nicely as well to the next question, and again, there's something we fell into the trap of and we're still fighting ourselves, but this particular community question is all about how should how much should I say should I pay for a good website? I tried building my own which some of us have all been there, done that, and it's become a massive nightmare and I'm getting really stressed at the time is taken. I don't know if I'm focusing on the right things. Have you got any advice and help for them for what they can do in that situation?

James: Yeah so how much should a website cost – that’s sort of the age old question. And it all depends on the context, what products or service that you're selling and who to. And also, you’ve got to think about it in terms of return of investment because if you're making a particular product and selling it on your website and you're generating hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of revenue through it, spending 10s of thousands on the site itself is sort of a bit of a no-brainer. That's a really good investment, especially if you think that you could potentially increase your sales by 10s of thousands as well, it will pay for itself quite quickly. But if you're just starting out, then yeah, you are not going to have the money to invest 10s of thousands of pounds in a website, and you might not need to either. In fact, you probably don't, especially at the start.

So, there's lots of online website builders. Things like square space -really good for ecommerce sites if you just setting out and you're kind of selling physical products or even service. Using something like that is really good. Because there’s a low monthly fee and it's really easy to maintain and populate the site and manage all your kind of sales metrics. And yeah, it's got CRM as part of it to help manage your customers as well. So, something like that is really good. But yeah, ultimately it does depend on the context and what you're doing. And it’s best to think about it as a return on investment. And if you are spending a lot of time maintaining and trying to make sure that your website works, then you’ve got to think about, well, what would you do with the time if you weren't spending it doing that and how much more money would you make if you're spending that time on marketing activities are working on your process or servicing your customers. Unfortunately, there's no value which I can say how much exactly good website should costs. But yeah, thinking about it in terms of return on investment as probably the best way to go.

Merlie: Brilliant advice, really brilliant advice. So next question James, if I may? Which websites do you think have the best customer journeys? Our site needs updating but I'm really stuck for ideas. Who inspires you and where do you go to get new ideas? Love this question.

James: Yes, it's a good one. I really love Air Bnb as a as a user experience is just such fun even though it has never been so much fun to spend hundreds of pounds and it's so easy to do as well. So, it's a great place to kind of buy your holidays basically so there really fun. He's experienced, I think that comes from the fact that you are buying a holiday and that is quite a fun activity -thinking about what you're going to be doing and where you're going to be going, but also how simple that they've made it feel.

Simplicity in a user interface is really difficult to achieve and that comes from being really customer centric and talking to their customers and understanding exactly what they want. Delivering that and then testing it back with them to optimise the user experience and find out what works best and where. And then being very disciplined about including, not every suggestion that someone has, but what is going to be most effective and then sticking with that. So yeah, that's why I really like Air Bnb.

Another goods customer experience -bit controversial- probably Amazon. Even though when you first go on the site and looking at the listings and thinking Oh my God, there's so much information here, this is way too much and it's not something that you want to print out and put on your wall, but it's been really well optimised because you know everything there has been thought about and tested and validated and works. So even though it feels very cluttered, a lot of the time and they figured out that it's better to have those features in all the information in than to exclude it because yeah, they make more money in the long run. So even though it doesn't look great. It's so easy to buy things on that, and I think that's really important. To make it very easy and clear for customers to do what they want to do. So not thinking about how do I do this, but I want to do this, I just get on and do it. So, that's the ultimate goal.

Regarding places for inspiration for visual design inspiration. Looking at sites like Dribbble, DRI, BBB, is a sort of a design Instagram basically where people put up their design concepts. And things that they're working on and then get feedback from rest of the design community. So, looking on there you can see some really, kind of, adventurous user interface designs - things that probably wouldn't be possible in a lot of cases to build, but people have kind of just gone for it with redesigning existing products and things like that.

So, then you can take some inspiration from that and go actually with the way that they treated the form fields or the buttons in that particular instance or the background that was really nice. What if we can use that in a current product that we're working on? Kind of cherry pick different parts of it and implement into your work, so that's a good place to look for inspiration.

Where else do I find inspiration? I think from the user experience perspective looking at kind of how real worlds processes work because. We can learn a lot from existing processes that have been around for a long time, especially with sort of manufacturing and things like that where things have been made really efficient and with really efficient flows and working processes. So, looking at those and understanding well how they got really, really slick operation and how can we take lessons from that and apply it to user flows on the web? So yeah, that's always quite interesting as well.

Merlie: Some real echoes there of Louis advice Aaron as well about where you take inspiration from looking in real in real life at other scenarios too. Thank you, James.

Aaron, I know is busting to ask another question. Folks you're going to have to wait for those questions or you know if you're listening to us on the extended podcast, will get to those in just a second, but we have run out of time for this particular show for questions to James that was awesome, wasn't Aaron? I've learned so much. I really wanted a notebook to be writing things down as you were speaking. I'm definitely going to look up Dribbble.

Aaron: Yeah, thank you again. James, mean I think more than anything. I think it's highlighted exactly how important your website is and we all know it and we all understand it but we kind of keep running to the back of the mind out when we keep for getting about it. But specially in these days where it is our one and only chance to get going to get that message across to potential new clients. So it is important to keep looking at the website and keep keeping eye on it and I think with experts like you on the field to be able to guide us in the right direction, I think that's exactly what we need too so thanks for the inspiration today and again I'm definitely going to be taking some notes down and I'm going to go look and look at our website and go, actually let's have a think about it so thanks James.

James: Thank you, yeah, it's been a real pleasure speaking to you both. Looking forward to the other questions.

Merlie: Well, hold on to your hat for those. That's all for now for this show folks again, podcast will pick up all the questions we haven't got round to asking and there's a few more really brilliant questions in the mix for James, but for now, thank you once again for watching. Don't forget to like, comment and subscribe and let us know what other burning questions you want us to be covering? We are banking them all up. I promise you that we're listening and there's far more guests that were lining up in response to your demand this season. In the meantime, folks have a great rest of your weekend. Don't forget to #GoFarFast.

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