We launched Paper with four guiding principles and BearHugs is our first project delivering on the third principle; Leg ups + freebies.
What’s that? Well, at any one time we can be working on a small number of projects. One of these will always be a ‘leg up’ project which is heavily discounted, or completely free for a charity, start-up, or social programme.
Meeting Faye and making plans
We met Faye Savory, the owner and curator of BearHugs, at a networking event called Founder Brunch in May 2016. BearHugs is a Sheffield based company selling gift boxes featuring locally sourced items, they’re seriously lovely. The background to the business is really fascinating (you can read about it here).
We got chatting about what Paper does and offered advice and guidance on how to investigate how the BearHugs website is perceived. This is big part of what Paper is all about, helping businesses who can benefit from our experience.
Jon, Faye and Cam at a planning session.
At the start of any project we pull together a measurement plan. It’s a useful way of understanding the business objectives for a project and can often give a strong steer towards areas that might benefit from research and insight work.
In the measurement plan we break down these objectives into a more granular level. One example might be ‘At a high level what does your business want the website to do?’ and the answer could be ‘Increase turnover. We then break that goal into KPIs, segments, benchmarks and the overall target.’
Example of a Measurement Plan
Faye says - “When we first met for a coffee, Cam and Jon showed genuine interest in what I’m doing with BearHugs, asking all the right questions to really get to the core of what I’m about and what I’d like to see for my business going forward. They also clarified in Plain English some of the analytics terminology that had previously seemed daunting. When they got back to me soon after this initial meeting with a Usability Testing script , it was clear that had really listened to what was important to me and my business.”
Getting ready for usability testing
Next we wrote a usability testing script based on the business objectives set out in the measurement plan. We knew that one goal was to sell more products (seems obvious), but we also wanted to understand how well BearHugs were communicating with customers to encourage brand reputation and trust (less straightforward).
If you’d like a copy of the original script and questions, just shout firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talking with people (aka usability testing)
We had two goals with the usability testing:
- To get useful and actionable insights for the BearHugs website
- To include Faye in the process so that she could take away the skills to use herself
The three of us went to two locations in Sheffield city centre. First stop was a chain coffee shop which had a steady footfall of customers, free wi-fi, plenty of tables and were happy for us to speak to customers. We interviewed three people there.
A couple of hours later we moved onto the Winter Gardens, tapping into the adjacent hotel wi-fi for internet access. We interviewed participants four and five here. Again, there was a steady footfall of people, with benches to sit, a cafe and toilets.
We ran the first couple of sessions, but by the third session Faye was leading them herself with us observing. We captured feedback on the day in a Google spreadsheet, along with videos which captured the users’ screen and their faces while they went through the site.
Faye says - “My favourite part of my experience with Paper was the afternoon Cam, Jon and I spent carrying out usability testing sessions on my website. I was a little nervous about this initially but they quickly put me at ease. After watching Cam and Jon carry out several sessions and chatting to them about it, I felt confident to have a go on my own. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how easy it was to do. It was great to get real-time in-person feedback on my website and I can’t believe it’s something I never would have considered doing before.”
Back in the studio we sat down, looked back at the footage and notes and started to dissect and digest the feedback. Whilst five participants isn’t a huge number, there were definitive trends and comments which came across. One really positive area was the navigation on the site, which had no negative comments.
This allowed us to create a usability report for Faye; jargon free, Plain English and with succinct information and key recommendations. We also included a list of kit needed for usability testing.
Faye says - “The report of the findings that Jon sent across was amazing. Not only was it lovely to look at, but it was succinct and easy to digest with clear, actionable recommendations. I loved that he had included a small section about the tools required to complete usability testing. I will definitely be referring back to this before I have a go at further testing on my own.”
It’s too early yet to provide statistical results from the usability testing (at the time of writing it was only a couple of weeks ago). But there is a tangible outcome which is worth noting; Faye is now able to conduct usability testing herself and is committed to continue testing the site in an ongoing process of optimisation.
Usability testing is a skill which needs honing, but there shouldn’t be a barrier for small businesses to have a go at speaking with their users.
How Faye sums it up
“I cannot thank Paper enough for their assistance. Before meeting with Cam and Jon, my web analytics baffled me and despite it being integral to my business I didn’t have a clue how well my website was serving me or my customers.
Cam and Jon have been nothing but warm, enthusiastic and approachable. They have been generous with their time, providing a valuable service that as a start-up I would probably never been able to access otherwise. They’ve made what at first seemed daunting feel accessible. They have also given me the skills, tools and confidence to do further usability testing in the future. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Paper and I’m excited to build on what they’ve taught me into my business going forward.”
Faye Savory, Owner of BearHugs
If you’re a small business or charity that is interested in doing a leg-up project with Paper we’d love to hear from you. Please give us a call or drop us an email.