Chat/AMA with Bethany Smith on user experience design (from 2/6/20)

Welcome to the discussion about UX! Feel free to comment with ANY questions you have for Bethany on this topic. She’s got you covered on aaaaaall things user experience design. No question is a silly question!!

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I’ll start, Bethany! Can you first just define in a few sentences what USER EXPERIENCE is and why food bloggers should care about it?

I’d say UX can mean two things - the just general experience your users feel/receive. But it’s also a technical field with metrics to measure and categories.

This is from Nielsen Norman Group:
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products."
For more details: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user-experience/

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In your recent EBT episode you talked a lot about the HEART framework and how food bloggers lack in one part of it (Retention). What are some ways food bloggers can dig into the Retention part of the framework since this is where we so often fall short?

Great question…

And that EBT podcast episode can be found here: https://www.eatblogtalk.com/bethanysmith2 or on your favorite podcast player!

There are many options for improving retention, but building an email list is probably the best. I know, I know, email doesn’t feel as sexy as social and some of the other stuff, but if you can get people engaging with you through email, it opens up all sorts of doors.

I also think people make email really complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

Have sign-ups on your site, offer a simple freebie. It can be as easy as packaging the top 5 recipes on your site, or links to the top 25 desserts on your site with a bonus recipe.

Then, for most people, trying to send an email once a week makes sense. Use it to connect with your readers, push new & old recipes and sell any products.

Of course, you could do way more with it, but this is a good start.

Email open rates average around 20-25% for this industry – see this post for some of that discussion – Benchmarks for email stats by industry for end of 2019

So, then hopefully you have those people that will always be going back to your site and even ready and willing to purchase any products from you since they feel they “know” you after opening so many emails!

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What if a food blogger is overwhelmed by digging into UX because it’s just ONE MORE THING? Can you give us a few ways we can enhance our users’ experiences within a short time frame?

I’m a proponent of people shifting their thinking to where UX doesn’t feel like one more thing, but is THE thing that makes it all work together! (But, I also know that’s not reality!)

So, adjusting your text is probably the quickest and most impactful thing you can do. Make sure it’s large enough, has enough contrast and is in a readable font.

The base size for paragraph text should be 16px. Small subheads could be 14px. Your H1s can be much larger, depending on your font and overall style, even into the 30s.

For contrast, you can use a tool like this - https://accessible-colors.com/
Put in the hex codes and it will tell you if the contrast is readable enough.

As far as fonts go, ones that are “simple” are usually easier to read. Look for ones that have good solid classic shapes, and have a medium to heavy weight for body text. You can be a bit more creative for your heading fonts if you like, but I’d usually stick with thicker and more substantial looking fonts. I usually google something like “font pairings” and see what comes up. I like this list from Canva – https://www.canva.com/learn/the-ultimate-guide-to-font-pairing/

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UX is everything! We should put that on a tshirt. :slight_smile:
Changing font is a super quick fix, so I love that suggestion.

What are your thoughts on colors and types of fonts we should be using on our blogs?
Also… what colors and fonts should we stay away from??

Haha, there are already lots of UX tshirts out there!!! But, we could make our own for food bloggers!

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That’s hilarious! I want one!

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You kinda answered this above about fonts (sorry), but I am curious which colors typically are better and which ones should be avoided.

If you look at major brands, in general, they nearly 100% use bold, saturated colors as their main color. Next time you’re driving around look at all the colors on signs. And you’ll notice.

This site is a great way to look at what colors are used: https://brandcolors.net/

And of course, you can have primary brand colors and then accents, etc.

These are the colors that are seeable, and accessible. You can also check the contrast of the color here - https://accessible-colors.com/ - and since your blog is web-based, this is a definite requirement.

The other aspect to think about is what colors represent your brand, and what colors mean “food” to people in general. But using a color that no food anywhere is, at least not naturally, like bright teal, isn’t always going to make sense. But, if you are a cake decorator and dye all your frosting, maybe it does. Many food brands seem to use red. Green if it’s more healthy. Just look around the grocery store and see.

Just don’t pick your favorite color, think through these tips and go from there. Since we are talking about tshirts, this one says it well: https://www.redbubble.com/i/t-shirt/You-are-not-the-user-(dark)-by-UXpert/30836137.IJ6L0.classic-tee-w hahaha

Of course, an actual graphic designer would be super great at helping you think through all this!

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Ok, I don’t know about other bloggers but I find this information sooo fascinating and helpful, too! I’ve always been a huge believer using BOLD colors in my content. It just grabs people!
Also thinking about colors that you associate with food is interesting.

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Do you think we should focus mainly on MOBILE user experience since that is where most people are at?

YES!

Food bloggers, and actually most digital creators are bad at this because we are often writing, editing our photos, creating graphics or whatever else on a desktop and so we forget to check how it looks on mobile. But it’s sooooo critical. Many food bloggers have around 80% or more of their visitors using a mobile device.

So, you can use something like http://www.responsinator.com/ to check and see how your site looks.

And, as much as I hate to bring up SEO (yes, I know everyone else loves it)…having a site with great mobile UX is important for Google. They’ve even listed it in their list of questions for content creators to ask themselves.

You can find lots more tips in this blog post of mine- Tips for making your blog user-friendly.

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Is it ok to ask your opinion about my new recipe card?

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Yeah, that looks great! Is it Tasty Recipes? Their default templates are good because I love the bold color up top that really helps it stand out – that’s what you want. On the WP Recipe Maker plugin, you can style it, but by default it tends to blend more making it harder to find.

The font looks easy to read and the bolded ingredients/instructions is good! I would use that contrast checker to see if the color of your text vs. the grey background is enough contrast. It looks good to me now, but how it just looks to us can be deceiving.

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