Message Testing: Are You Getting Your Message Across?

Have you ever visited a horrible website and wondered about its purpose? Have you ever been turned off by a website’s color, music, or design? Chances are the company didn’t employ message testing. Message testing for online media allows companies to understand who is reading their content and how people are reacting to it. Indeed, this tool is critical to creating a successful media campaign and strong identity online. Further, how a company markets itself online is extremely important, especially for attracting new customers, and keeping current ones, so message testing is something that all companies should consider.

Survey research can help companies understand precisely how its message is being received by users. It involves deciding on a range of different ideas for how to market a company and helps them to dwindle it down to one that best gets the message across.

Message testing can be conducted several ways, however, there are a few key goals. The first aim of message testing is to ensure that the message is sticking with users. Is it memorable? Next, message testing should help companies understand if it stands out among competitors. If the company doesn’t stand out, it then knows where it needs to improve. The third goal of message testing is to help companies decide on a message that is an accurate reflection of its vision. The message should be all encompassing and broad enough target all potential audiences. Lastly, message testing should help companies develop a message that makes customers react positively—whether it’s a call to action or a conversion of some sort (buying a product or service).

While I haven’t had the opportunity to carry out message testing research on a grand scale, I can agree that it has the potential to help companies create campaigns or an online identity that will help them accomplish their goals. I think that one company that consistently has the same strong message each time I visit its website is Apple. The message is consistent, clear, and attractive and I always leave the website wishing I could upgrade to the latest iPhone or iPad (I’d say the message is a success!).

Questions to readers:

-What website has a strong message? 

-Have you carried out message testing? If so, how did it help improve your message?

-When is message testing most appropriate?

The Beauty of Web Design Patterns

An example of a customer-centered pattern.

As a third semester student in a web design graduate program, you would think I’d have heard of customer-centered web design patterns by now. Actually, I haven’t, and it’s an extremely fascinating subject and the topic of an entire course I’m taking this fall semester. Basically, any webpage can be categorized into a design pattern (assuming it’s designed properly and for a purpose). For example, there are webpages that feature cross-selling patterns to news mosaic patterns, and everything in between. Essentially, each pattern addresses an issue. So for instance, if a company identifies that its problem is that clients are buying just one product, rather than many related ones, they can pinpoint, and then implement, the appropriate pattern. In this can, the pattern would be among “Pattern Group G”, entitled Cross-Selling and Up-Selling. These patterns are available in brief online and in-depth in the textbook, The Design of Sites: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites, which I’m required to read for class. Although this topic is a bit complex, I think it would have been beneficial to have been introduced it a few semesters earlier. Indeed, being armed with a collection of customer-centered web design patterns that are tried and tested is useful to any designer, especially a novice web designer like me!

I looked at a few websites and noted that Kohl’s uses the Recommendation Community Pattern.

The Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Pattern is used by Williams-Sonoma.

Sephora’s homepage employs the Featured Products Pattern.

Wondering How to Properly Use QR Code?

Have you noticed any strange square-shaped mazes affixed to advertisements, displays, or brochures? If so, you’ve most likely come across QR code, or quick response code/quick recognition code, which is increasingly being used across different industries and for diverse purposes. Basically, QR codes represent information, commonly used to store website addresses. Smart phone users with Internet connectivity can capture the code, which is then interpreted into a web address.

To be honest, my organization has been taking advantage of this technology for some time. From corporate annual reports to marketing material, QR codes have been affixed (by our Creative Department) to several documents that I’ve worked closely on. However, I didn’t truly understand the purpose of it until I came across this great slideshow that not only lists practical uses for QR code but demonstrates them with actual examples.

As the slideshow’s creator, Aliza Sherman, points out, QR code has practical uses but as companies try to take advantages of these they make mistakes in the process, such as making the mobile destination non-mobile friendly or requiring the user to log in to a Facebook page to access content. The best part of Aliza’s slideshow is her closing that lists how to do QR the right way, which includes: 1) Determine a mobile-friendly destination 2) Encourage measurable actions 3) Enhance the experience 4) Provide value and 5) Be useful. If I decide to incorporate a QR code into my personal work in the future, I’ll be sure to remember Aliza’s advice.

In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for how QR code is being used in everyday media around me. I’m sure that with time, companies will better understand the QR code technology and formulate best practices, which will maximize its usage.