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Fellowship attend WordCamp London 2019 – The Annual WordPress Conference

Fellowship attend Wordcamp London 2019

As WordPress specialists, the Fellowship team recently attended WordCamp London 2019, for the third year running. In our latest blog we cover a range of topics from some of the sessions we attended.

UX for Everyone

Session by @picci

This session was all around something we’re always keen to improve – the user experience!

Piccia Neri, all the way from Valencia, focused her talk around the importance of combining the look of a website and the ease of use with empathy. Piccia could not stress enough the importance of really caring about the users that visit your website as often we can all be guilty of overestimating how much we can empathise with our users.

It’s easy for us to think about ourselves using the website but how can we really think about other users using the website? Of course we can complete user testing but first we should consider the following when reviewing the experience of users on a website:

  1. Does the site give the user value
  2. Does the user find it simple to navigate
  3. Does the user enjoy using the website or application

If we combine the questions above with research of who the targeted users of the website are we can start putting users at the centre of our process & design to make users enjoy their experience. For example, don’t offer a free demo and ask users to provide their card details before they’ve even tested your product!

To obtain research of users without the need for a big budget, Piccia suggested some of the following research methods to trial initially:

  1. Run surveys on the website with existing users – what are they finding difficult?
  2. Run interviews with key stakeholders using questionnaires and workshops. What’s most important to them? Improvements to the customer experience may be made by engaging with the employees.
  3. Research with your users. Try using Facebook polls – a relaxed environment to obtain feedback.

User testing at the most basic level should be undertaken with prescribed questions to start understanding your users and be completed regularly throughout the lifespan of the website.

Here’s a few online tools to help you carry out usability testing:

Session by @topher1kenobe

Another great talk we attended was a talk on the Ecommerce landscape by Chris “Topher”​ DeRosia a WordPress developer working for Ecommerce all the way from Michigan, USA.

The focus of the talk remained around how consumers are changing the way in which they shop before listing the six trends altering the Ecommerce landscape.

Shopping Checkout introduced to Instagram

Firstly, the buzz of Social Media is influencing how users shop online more & more with Instagram now BETA testing a new feature on their platform that will enable users to purchase on Instagram rather than being linked off-site to a store. This may not be great for individual store owners with potentially less users visiting their site but is all around making it easy for ‘influenced’ users to make a quick and simple purchase. A whole new revenue stream for Instagram, the cost to merchants is still unclear but Ecommerce brands may find this advertising method provides a worthy return-on-investment with the few steps to purchase and the ease to buy.

You can read more about Instagrams Shopping Checkout here.

Where are consumers purchasing?

Research shown to us in the talk made it clear that consumers are shopping more omnichannel than ever before, which obviously makes it very difficult for brands to know their ‘best’ platform!

Here’s the results of a global survey which asked consumers the following –
Where have you purchased from in the last six months?

  • A physical store = 65% of consumers
  • An online store = 45% of consumers
  • Amazon = 78% of consumers
  • eBay = 34% of consumers
  • Instagram = 6% of consumers
  • Snapchat = 4% of consumers
  • Facebook = 11% of consumers

Ok, so we know Amazon is dominant in terms of consumer purchases (we’ll come on to this!) but if we then look at the next biggest percentage which is consumers purchasing in a physical store, interesting research took place around what influences a ‘Gen Z’ consumer (mid-1990s to early-2000s born) to purchase in a store.

The research found nearly 40% of these users first visited a brands website before making a purchase in their physical store – this is greater than the number of consumers that checked out the brand on Amazon. So, if you think about it, your own website sometimes will have some unexpected power over Amazon!

Why Amazon?

It’s no secret that Amazon is by some way the most popular place of online purchases globally but why is this? Research shows the top 3 reasons consumers prefer to shop on Amazon is:

  • Convenience
  • Price
  • Ease of shipping

Whereas, consumers suggest away from Amazon on branded Ecommerce sites they’re most likely to purchase because of brand reputation and loyalty/reward programs. This begs the question to branded Ecommerce websites – what are you doing to reward your customers?

Payment Options Matter

We’ve used a range of different third-party finance providers for our clients here at Fellowship on Ecommerce websites, some have worked successfully and some not so well! But one thing is clear from research, that the offering of finance to the user can influence their decision to not only buy but influence exactly what they buy.

Topher informed us that recent research found finance influenced 36% of users to purchase a more expensive option when shopping online. Research also found offering incentives to purchase was most successful in Gen Z users and least successful amongst Senior users – some food for thought when looking at the demographic of your users!

1. ‘Paid media needs experts’

In short, the paid advertising process has become so advanced and complex, it is often not efficient for a store owner to spend their own time managing ads but instead use an agency such as ourselves who specialise to see a worthy ROI on ad spend.

2. ‘Content & Commerce takes precedence

In counter to the first point, the cost of ads now does mean there is even more of a focus on creating targeted content on your own website. With SEO in mind, a combination of keyword research and well written content can result in Google coming to you when returning searches for queries you’re targeting.

3. ‘Headless Commerce becomes mainstream’

Many websites that are predominately ‘content’ focused using CMS platforms such as WordPress are now beginning to integrate with commerce platforms such as BigCommerce to blend content and commerce to sell related products online. You can read all about ‘headless commerce’ here.

4. ‘Experience bleeds over to offline’

Brands are going to increased lengths to ensure great user experience online bleeds over to offline and that the physical experience of a user offline reflects that of online channels. This goes back to the point earlier about brand loyalty and the importance that the consumer has complete confidence in purchasing.

In an interesting but perhaps more extreme example, you can read about luxury watch manufacturer ‘Shinola’ have gone to the length of opening a hotel under the ‘Shinola’ brand here.

5. ‘AI makes it all possible’

Artificial intelligence is making it much easier for store owners to personalise their content and interact with users without the need to do this manually.

6. ‘The retail workforce changes’

As mentioned earlier, we always need to consider the different ages and generations that are using our websites, exploring our content and purchasing our products. How we market to different ages and generations will differ – for example, we know the lure of incentives may be most effective to those of ‘Gen Z’. Start by exploring your Google Analytics data and using online surveys to find out both the demographic of your users and what makes them tick when shopping online.

Design matters in open source

Session by@karmatosed

The next talk was from Tammie Lister, Experience Designer at Automattic (parent company of WordPress) and it was focused more at us guys ‘agency side’, with discussion all around how design matters in open source.

With WordPress being an open-source platform, it’s code is made available for use or modification (hence we build bespoke sites) and it is contributed to by a wide community of developer & designers.

The crux of the talk focused around the importance of design working alongside the build process and the good point that design isn’t simply a tick box but rather that the concept of open-source should aid the design process.

Key takeaways

The key takeaways for our team to consider when working on a project considering both design and development were:

  1. Be more patient with one another (we try!).
  2. Be an ‘archaeologist’ – research to see if something has been done before in open-source, before we dive in and do it all from scratch.
  3. Share work with each other earlier and often – a culture of feedback means the team should regularly allow time for different voices to be heard.

Going to the dark side, they have cookies

Session by @tnash

With perhaps the quirkiest session title of the day, we attended a talk all focused around the security of websites (something we’re always keen to hear about!) by Tim Nash, the WordPress Platform lead at 34SP.

The first point discussed was all around trusting your developers! So to you that’s not just us guys, but those who develop third-party plugins or software. We are ourselves very selective in choosing the third-party plugins that we use and where possible we try to use our own Aquarius framework as we do understand the risks. For example, recently the plugins developer of a very popular WordPress plugin ‘Pipdig Power Pack’ was found to be able to grant themselves administrative access to sites using the plugin which is obviously be a real security breach (read more about this here).

A few points on WordPress Security

Tim’s talk covered the worst case scenarios of security breaches on WordPress websites but came down to a few points:

  1. It is very easy to accidentally write ‘bad’ code and you need to trust the developers that are writing it. For example, if you’re using a teenage whizz kid developing from their bedroom, it’s unlikely that they will be following best practice when it comes to security. All of the code we write here at Fellowship is licenced under the GPL version 2 or later. As a result of this, all of our clients are free to get the code we write for their websites audited if they see fit by third parties.
  2. Keep the number of admin accounts for the backend of your website to a minimum. Across your systems, we would advise making sure that user accounts only have access to what they really need.
  3. Don’t reuse passwords.

And finally… Gutenberg!

We’ll keep this point short and sweet but it’s likely that by now you will have seen notifications within WordPress to update from the Classic Editor to the visual Gutenberg editor. Although there is a lot of information online now about Gutenberg and we’re excited to start using this following Wordcamp, we do not consider it ready at this stage for mission critical websites. At this stage we are updating our websites using the classic editor and will be monitoring the progress of Gutenberg development and will continue to re-evaluate our position on this throughout this year.

We hope you’ve found some of the topics above useful and we look forward to sharing more detailed information on them with you in the future. If there is anything you would like to discuss in more detail, please do get in touch.