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The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

The Usability Company and Usability Sciences Corporation form a Transatlantic Partnership

February 27, 2002 — The first ‘Transatlantic Partnership’ details the newly formed partnership between The Usability Company and Usability Sciences Corporation.

The second ‘WebIQ’ discusses the only online client-side technology that can be easily and cost-effectively deployed to gather intelligence on ALL the key qualitative metrics of website effectiveness.

Transatlantic Partnership

A Transatlantic Partnership Providing Clients With a Consistent Approach to Website Usability Testing and Research.

London-based “The Usability Company” and Dallas-based Usability Sciences Corp. (USC) today announced a transatlantic partnership designed to provide global clients with a consistent approach to website usability testing and research. The Usability Company will become the exclusive UK agent for USC’s European clients. USC will reciprocate for North American units of The Usability Company’s European clients.

The Usability Company is building a European network of usability specialists in order to deliver services and consultancy to clients with pan-European requirements. “Our strategy from the outset has been to focus on large multinationals and blue chip organisations and the natural extension from the pan-European business model was to look globally. With Usability Sciences Corporations’ US coverage and links into Asia, we are beginning to see for the first time a truly global delivery capability” said Catriona Campbell founder and CEO of The Usability Company.

Jeff Schueler, founder and CEO of Usability Sciences Corporation said, “The Usability Company offers the standard of service and depth of expertise we were looking for in a European partner. We feel comfortable entrusting our clients as well as our technology to them.”

Both organisations employ the latest techniques and technologies in providing usability services and consulting to their clients. “When we compared the processes and the quality of the deliverables we found there was a great deal of similarity” said Jeff. And it was Usability Sciences Corporations’ focus on ROI (return on investment) and actionable recommendations that convinced The Usability Company that the partnership would flourish. “Our customers expect us to understand their business and be able to deliver against their business goals and visitor objectives. They also want us to deliver actionable recommendations rather than weighty tomes. The fact that Usability Sciences Corporation shared this way of working was of key importance to us,” said Catriona.

WebIQ

The Launch of WebIQ the only online, client-side technology that can be easily and cost-effectively deployed to gather intelligence on ALL the key qualitative metrics of website effectiveness.

The Usability Company and Usability Sciences Corporation (USC) announced today the UK launch of WebIQ, the only online, client-side technology that can be easily and cost-effectively deployed to gather intelligence on ALL the key qualitative metrics of website effectiveness. This announcement follows the release by the two companies about their recently agreed transatlantic partnership.

“WebIQ is a remarkable piece of technology that meets an emerging need within the online world,” said Catriona Campbell, founder and CEO of The Usability Company. “WebIQ has already been successfully deployed on two of the world’s top ten brands, and six of the top one hundred. It has been deployed on multiple sites for Procter & Gamble, the world’s second largest brand portfolio.”

“As the demographics of the web move closer to that of the general population” said USC president Jeff Schueler, “web sites must move closer to conventional marketing models”. Initial web marketing focused on driving traffic. That evolved into analysing traffic patterns as a way to improve the site. Site “analytics” spawned the need for user experience testing, generally with a recruited panel. In today’s environment, panel-based feedback is not enough. Sites need insight from and about their actual visitors.”

“That’s where WebIQ comes in,” said Campbell. “It creates a direct, real-time feedback channel to the actual visitor. It’s not about site data any more. It’s about customer intelligence. Site managers need to know exactly who visits their site, why they came, and how successful they were. Recruited panels can’t provide that kind of feedback. Web analytics packages don’t engage the visitor in a dialogue. WebIQ does.”

WebIQ collects feedback in small, discreet samples from visitors who volunteer to participate. Opt-in rates average eight percent. The highest rate has been a staggering 12%. “It’s a reflection of brand strength and the visitor’s affinity for the site,” explained Schueler. “The stronger the relationship between the brand and the visitor, the higher the participation level.”

The software, which is downloaded and runs from participants’ computers, asks specific conditional and contextual questions depending on, for example, the respondent’s demographic information, what they identify as their intentions at the site, and their various navigation choices.

WebIQ’s entry-level online product, the e-Mission Scorecard, is data-rich and inexpensive for companies to use, Schueler said. A typical e-Mission project can be up on the site within 48 hours and completed for less than ,000. USC advises that sites collect the sample over a one-week period so that daily usage patterns do not skew the results. “What really endears WebIQ to our clients,” said Schueler, “is that, unlike most survey technologies, we inflict no pain on their IT departments. We give them two lines of JavaScript to insert into the home page and that’s it. We handle everything else.”

The information drawn from the surveys is invaluable to market researchers and company executives, said Schueler. A recent Forrester Research report backs up those convictions.

“Executives need insight into what drives or hinders the business success of their (Web) sites. Instead, they settle for traffic reports and then struggle to make them fit their needs,” the report stated. “Metrics alone can’t answer the right questions Forrester believes that firms must shift from reactively analysing traffic to proactively monitoring scenario completion the rate at which users are able to accomplish their key goals.”

Dick Buck, president of US market research firm BusinessInsights, has implemented WebIQ for a number of his customers.

“It’s marvellous because you’re dealing with real visitors to the website, (and while) they’re performing actual activities, you’re questioning them you’re doing it on the click,” Buck said. “That’s far superior to taking a survey at the end of a website (session) you get insights that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It’s more valid than people trying to rely on their memory.”

BusinessInsights uses WebIQ on a project basis when a client has specific needs and issues and on an ongoing basis for tracking and monitoring what’s happening on the site, Buck said. “I’ve seen nothing else that does what (WebIQ) does.”

“WebIQ is a perfect addition to our service portfolio. Our strategy is to encompass any aspect of website operation that has an impact on the visitor experience and therefore limits businesses’ ability to achieve their goals. We are confident that WebIQ will be enormously successful in the UK market and are delighted to be the exclusive UK agent for Usability Sciences Corporation” said Paul Blunden, Sales & Marketing Director, The Usability Company.

About The Usability Company:

The Usability Company is one of the UK’s leading usability specialists. They help their clients optimise the return on investment from their digital channels. They bring a combined knowledge of more than 30 years usability experience into the world of digital interface testing. The Usability Company tests all digital interfaces including Internet, Intranet, iDTV, Wireless, software and IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition).

The Usability Company is completely independent of web or design agencies, and is therefore 100% independent. They work closely with in-house designers or with out-sourced design agencies providing specifically tailored usability services through the entire project development cycle. The Usability Company has a large blue chip client base including Barclays Bank Plc, where they are a contracted preferred partner for usability services, BskyB, Asda, MTV, Debenhams and William Hill.

About Usability Sciences Corporation:

Usability Sciences Corporation is one of the pioneers of the software usability field. Incorporated in 1988, USC has provided usability research services and technologies to more than 230 companies around the world. USC’s services provide a complete usability solution for e-commerce and b2b sites, software and hardware, corporate homepages, and a myriad of other websites. Their customers include Procter & Gamble, Nokia, Microsoft, and IBM.

http://www.usabilitysciences.com

About Jeff Schueler:

Mr. Schueler is the founder and President of Usability Sciences. Prior to founding the company in 1988, Mr. Schueler spent 20 years with IBM in various staff and management jobs in sales and product development. He co-founded the Usability Professionals Association 1991; this professional association has over 1600 members and serves as a focal point for the exchange of usability methodologies, ideas, and information around the world. Mr. Schueler has published and contributed to articles on software usability in nationally distributed publications such as PC Computing Magazine, Computer Technology Review, and Insurance Industry Review. He has appeared on Microsoft TV. He speaks at various universities and trade associations on the methodologies and benefits of usability research.

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