UX and Product Design Agency

Categories: Marketing, UX/UI

Tags: contact us, forms

I was recently doing a UX Optimization Report for someone. When I got to his contact page, he had one form for each type of inquiry you might have.

Contact me for X reason, separate form for contacting him for Y reason. That might seem like a better way for YOU to stay organized, but is it better for the user? Hmmm, which form do I use? Do I need to fill out both? Hey this page is long.

Conditional Logic

Upgrade your forms to something with conditional logic. Whether you can build the form on your site or use a survey system (I’m using SurveyGizmo), use conditional logic.

That way, I can have a question on my form like this:

I can then use my system to write conditional logic on that question. Some of those checkboxes lead to a follow up question. Some don’t. And I don’t want to do a paper-form approach like, “IF you’re interested in our UX training, then please answer this question.” We can do better.

Consider form length.

Our form is a little longer than name, email, comments. But when people fill it out, I have enough info to write them back a very intelligent and relevant response. 🙂 When I used to have a shorter form, I got way less information. I then had to write back with, “Well, can you please tell me more about where you are, when the training would be, and how many people? What level is everybody at?”

Now, I ask those things but I have done my best to design a form that is easy and fast to fill out. Yes, it’s more questions but the extra questions are short like how many people need training. Type a number and you can move on.

I’ve also made many fields optional. If people really want to take the fast route on my form, they can.

And you have a way out.

For those who don’t want to fill out a form, my contact page starts with my email address and phone number. But I find that many people do fill out the form. I can then answer quickly and completely since I get way more of the story.

And only ONE form to fill out no matter why you are contacting Ptype.

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Mr Toad’s Wild Expedia Ride

Posted By on Feb 19, 2018

Last year, I booked a set of flights for my boyfriend. He was coming to visit me in Arizona from Europe. But he was going to go back home from Orlando after we did a week in Disney.

I had trouble finding decently priced flights. I normally start on Kayak and normally end up on one airline’s site to buy the best-priced route. This time, I was pretty stumped so I figured I’d try Expedia.

We ended up with:

  • [His local airport] -> Rome -> Chicago -> Tucson
  • Orlando -> London -> Rome -> [His local airport]

That’s 3 flights each way. They were mostly sold as Iberia flights but were really code shares for British Airways, American Airlines, Vueling… there were at least four airlines in there.

But we paid one low fare and carried on… until it came time to fly.

Oh get ready for this.

The trouble started when I called to try to pick out his seats. Called Iberia. No, this flight is on British Airways, American, and other carriers… call them. I called them. No, this is an Iberia flight. We can’t book seats on an airline that’s not ours.

Took days of calling to get him seats. Fast forward to flight day.

His local airport doesn’t have an Iberia desk. He checked in with the first airline. They weren’t sure how far they could check the bag. So it had to be re-checked in Rome with it hopefully passing through Chicago and then landing in Tucson. Which it did but that means paying to check it twice.

Returning to Europe, Orlando had no Iberia desk. He was checking in with British Airways for his flight to London. It took them an hour to check his suitcase. They didn’t sell him the ticket. They had no connection to his next flight to Rome. Everything the agent put into the computer it rejected because the next flight was on another airline.

The agent got her manager. The manager got her supervisor. The supervisor went to “the expert in the back.” These women were all lovely and really tried to help get the suitcase straight to Rome even though the next flight was on another airline.

What a mess. And of course in Rome, he had to get his bag and re-check it on another airline and pay again.

This isn’t unique to Expedia.

This is true for any company that gets creative with code shares or mixing-and-matching flights. has a neat solution.

If you go to book something like this on, when they give you a mix-and-match result, they have messaging right there that suggests you not check any bags.

Notice the message at the bottom of this suggested flight route? Cabin baggage aka carry-on luggage only. Why? Because they know that they are putting you on a series of disconnected one-way flights. You will NOT be able to check your bag at point A and arrive at point C or D without having to collect your checked bag and re-check it (and pay again).

Be warned about mix-and-match.

Mix and match will save you money unless you have checked bags. If you have checked bags, please consider the following:

  1. You will need to collect your checked bags on your plane change, which takes you outside of security. You’ll go to the check-in counter and wait in the line to check your bags again. You will pay again.
  2. Make sure there is time for that. There isn’t time for that on a one-hour layover. Not even sure about a two-hour layover given what ticket counter lines and security lines can be like

You’ve been warned! Book carefully. It might be worth a little extra money to fly all on one airline so they can check your bags straight through. Or as suggests, carry-on luggage only.

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Can You Save Users From Themselves?

Posted By on Feb 15, 2018

One area where UX can make someone’s day is saving a user from himself or herself. In order to do that, you will need good UX research telling you more about your users’ likely behaviors, motivations, habits, locations, etc…

What might this user do that she will later wish she could undo? What might this user do that will later have him calling customer service in a frenzy, hoping someone can fix it?


To me, that’s the number one area where we can save people from themselves. How many times companies must get the customer service call or email, “I didn’t mean to delete that!” or “I deleted the wrong thing and can’t get it back” or “I thought I didn’t need it but it turns out I do!”

For a moment, I’ll use Quickbooks Online as a model. They kept my data available online for what felt like over a year after I closed an old company of mine. Why? Why not tell me you cancelled, you closed, you must be done?

Because they know what will happen next. It’s tax time and that user realises she didn’t have everything she needed. Maybe I sold the company and oops I need some of my old data. So many reasons to need something I thought I didn’t need.

That data was available to me for at least a year and I still see a ghost link to it when I log in. They are saving me from myself.

You can’t go wrong doing this.

If I DON’T need that data then I ignore the link or ghost link to it. I know it’s there, that’s nice, but I don’t need it.

Message the purge date.

Keep the user’s “deleted” data around a little longer. I’ll even allow you to lie to them. Say you’re keeping it for 30 days. Keep it for 60 days. Even 90 days. But warn them that the data will be purged in X days on June 1, 2018.

The Quickbooks Online link also said on what date the data will be completely purged and no longer available. That is helpful messaging. It’s a good model to follow.

Many mistakes are easy to undo. Deleting is hard or impossible to undo. Make the user’s day, month, or year by having what they thought was gone. Predict what your users are likely to do and build them a system that gives them more help and support than they even expected.

Nobody should have to say, “I deleted it by accident, I didn’t notice for a week, and by then, the company said they had no way to restore it for me.”

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Some entrepreneurs I know were recently concerned that business for all of 2018 so far is way down. It felt like something changed. They’re not sure what, they’re not sure why things dropped. And everybody tells them they are great people with excellent offerings and super websites… so if they’re doing everything right, why is there a problem?

Let’s start with the difficult truth: if “everybody” is sure you’re doing everything or most things right, then you are asking the wrong people or the wrong questions. You need better and more honest feedback, especially if your business is struggling. There is always room for improvement in any business. No friend and certainly no professional or expert should tell you you’re doing everything right.

Maybe it’s just a slow time.

Sure. How long do you want to wait it out? Write down a date for yourself. If I don’t meet X business goal by Y date, I will stop waiting and do something about it.

How can I do anything about it when I don’t know what’s wrong?

A UX agency is your expert team of problem finding and problem solving specialists. We will find the problems and create solutions. You don’t have to know what’s wrong. You only have to know you’re ready for a fresh set of eyes and some change.

Small businesses often try to do everything themselves. We’ll build our own website. We’ll write all the copy. We’ll take the photos. We’ll write our courses or training materials. It’s rare for someone to be great at everything. What you did might be OK but it’ll be ever better when you bring in experts.

Service Design is not just for new businesses or new services.

Even if you have been in business for decades, you can benefit from working with a service design agency like us. We look at everything that touches your customer individually and holistically.

As UX practitioners, we are experts in how people think, process information, get motivated, and are likely to interact with your company. Most of us at Ptype have been influenced by the Walt Disney World model of customer service. Are you providing Disney-level service? We’ll help get you to the “your business” version of that.

Some services we can perform include:

Fully Auditing Your Business – Let’s take a look at what you offer, your products and services. Your company values and mission. The business mood and personality, which may be different than your human personality. Your internal processes and tools. Your pricing. Your time management and motivation. The expenses draining profit the most. Your outgoing voicemail. Your business card and marketing materials.

Your staff. Who they are and how they were trained. What they’re empowered to do for customers. Too much staff? Not enough staff? How do you hire? What could you delegate to a part timer, full timer, freelancer, or virtual assistant? If you have one or more physical locations that see customers, we would investigate that as well.

We would also do a UX Optimization Report, which is a detailed audit of your website. For many small businesses, their website is the first time a customer interacts with them. What impression does the website give? Is it easy to use? It is easy for visitors to find what they need? Are you pushing them too hard to do something they don’t want to do? Have you created obstacles or frustrating website experiences? Is it written for your audience, above their heads, or way below their intelligence?

We will get to know everything that touches your customer.

Competitive Analysis – Who are your competitors? What do they offer and (if the information is public) at what price? Let’s also audit their website. Perhaps there is something they’re doing on their site that might inspire us.

Customer Research – Has your target audience or sweet spot evolved over time? Are you focusing on the right people? We can interview current and potential customers to learn more about how they chose you, why they love you, why they stay, and anything they might not have liked. We generate Personas, which are archetypes of your target customers. We then design everything with them in mind… services, website, communication, etc…

You can ask your customers how they like you. But we have found that we often get a lot more truth, input, feedback, and details when we (as an outside company) are doing the interviewing… and your customer is guaranteed anonymity in our report. Not only will these interviews give us insights into ideas for your services but also ways to improve customer satisfaction.

We can also create a Customer Journey Map to look at what your typical customer does, step by step, and how she feels at each point. This helps us find moments of opportunity to both save her from frustration and deliver a delightful experience.

Marketing Audit – We are partnered with San Francisco marketing agency known for its results. We’d bring them in to audit your current marketing and social media efforts and suggest changes.

Instructional Design – Many service businesses offer online courses, webinars, and workshops. We can review both the internal materials you may have used to train your staff as well as presentations, courses, and other materials that you give away for free or sell to your customers.

Instructional Design is about more than the copy writing and selection of photos, charts, or media. It’s also about the organization and taxonomy of topics, the order information is presented, keeping people’s attention, creating moments of engagement, and finding the right level of detail and explanation for your audience.

We can completely create your materials, structure your presentations, and write your courses, with you or for you.

We deliver blueprints and specifics.

Our suggestions won’t be along the lines of, “Fix your website.” You will get pages and pages from us on exactly what is wrong and exactly what to do about it.

If we are building or rebuilding a process you use internally or that your customer experiences, we will create a detailed blueprint of how that process works and what other systems or people are tied in.

Do I have to do all of those to improve or get out of this slump?

No. We can consult with you on which tasks are more important to your business and situation and which are nice to have. But the more you can do, the more you can expect improvement. You can go to your mechanic with a car with 10 problems and ask her to only fix 4 of them. But why?

What’s the worst that can happen?

The worst that can happen is that the slump you’re in is permanent because your market has shifted away from what you do or how you do it.

We understand. We were “web designers” many years ago (under another company name). As the year 2000 approached, we predicted that the availability of Front Page would make everybody think they can build websites themselves. By the time our business dropped, we had redefined ourselves as expert designers and business consultants for eBay sellers. eBay had us speaking at their events. We were the first eBay Certified Services Provider… and we helped them create that program.

And when the bottom dropped out in 2008, we redefined ourselves again, moving towards specializing in UX. We got out of eBay completely and shifted who our target customers would be.

If you need to shift, we can blueprint that pivot. If you aren’t in a worse case scenario, then we’ll work to improve your business in every way we can.

Contact us for a free proposal on how our service design can improve your business.

Stop making excuses.

Here are some phrases you might hear yourself saying that will hopefully help you realize it’s time to act. These ways of thinking could be holding you back, could be working against you.

  • “But my…” website is great, my PR is going well, my social media is active, my writing is really good, my online course is great, etc… If you are struggling, perhaps one or more of these aren’t as grand as they once were.
  • “But I like…” my website, that photo of me, the way I’m doing things. Surely there are some things we won’t need you to change. But it’s potentially harmful to your business to fall too much in love with how you’ve been doing things.
  • “But I’m… and people like me.” Yes, you’re funny, goofy, wacky, random, non-linear, but you are an individual person. The business is an entity and you’re a part of it. Your personality can be part of the business personality until it sacrifices or sabotages professionalism or clarity. We have to find the right balance.
  • “But I’m copying someone who is successful.” He says he’s successful but we don’t really know. Do you offer the same services to the same target audience? Copying him may not be right for what you do, how you do it, and for whom.
  • “My expert said to do it that way.” We all know about experts who aren’t experts. Or just not as good at things as they like to imagine. Or they are too focused on their one area of specialty without seeing the bigger picture. You can’t go wrong getting other expert opinions.
  • “But this used to work just fine,” or, “I was doing so well last year/past time period.” Times change, people change, tech changes. Don’t rest on success. Always look for ways to grow and improve. And if what used to work doesn’t seem to be working now, we might have to change along with the times.

The data won’t lie. How many people hit your website? Do they do the key actions you hope they will do? Do they do the key actions they came to do? After they get your free eBook, white paper, or online course, do they become paying customers or did they stop at the freebie? Do you hear from them again?

How is your revenue looking? How are you doing compared to the goals you have set out?

Let’s get started. Contact us for a free proposal on how our service design can improve your business.

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Press 8 To Be Called Back

Posted By on Feb 13, 2018

Categories: Business

Tags: call centers, callbacks, IVR

Having made endless phone calls lately to cancel utilities, book flights, and the many adventures you go on when you are moving a long distance, I noticed something about call systems.

Some now know that if the wait is long, you don’t want to be on hold. Press a certain number and we will call you back when it would be your turn in the queue.

This sounds good. This sounds like you have empathy for the customer, who doesn’t want a phone glued to her ear listening to rejected smooth jazz for 2 hours.

When that callback comes, you get one shot.

I was waiting hours to talk to an airline. I pressed the key to get a call back. When the call came, I was visiting a farm. The call didn’t go through. I later got a voice mail. If I still need help, please call us back.


Another similar one… The wait was over an hour. I pressed the key to get a call back. When they called back, the line disconnected. That was my one shot.


Take that empathy to the next step.

Imagine that not everybody can answer the phone in every moment. Sometimes a call drops. I’m in an area of no service. I’m in an elevator. A shop. A Disney World ride. Airport security. My car is going into a tunnel.

I still need to talk to you.

Try me again.

Not when it’s a sales call. I do NOT want a 48th call from Quicken Loans (when I don’t want a loan). This blog post is not for you, sales calls! This is for companies I called, the hold was too long, and I opted in to get a call later in the day.

Try me again. Don’t give me one shot.

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UX of Parent Child Account Settings

Posted By on Feb 12, 2018

I recently signed up for a service. My account is a child account to someone who passes me a discount on the service.

After my account was set up, I of course explored every page I could find. I went into settings. Account information had the info of the parent account, the guy who sets these up for others. I figured that was placeholder info and I should put my info in. After all… it’s my account!

Here’s what the account screen looks like without my info in it. Info blurred for privacy.

I figured oops, that’s the other guy who set it up. I’ll put in my information.

That ended up being wrong.

I ended up changing the master account to mine. I started getting emails a parent account would get about how all of the child accounts are doing. That clued me in to having done something wrong.

How do you keep me from making that mistake?

The easiest way to keep me from making that mistake is to not allow child accounts to change the settings on parent accounts. If those fields were disabled and the account were labelled as the parent (with customer-friendly copy), I wouldn’t have fought that. I would have left it alone.

Should we just write instructions telling you not to change it?

Any time you are thinking of giving people instructions it’s a clue to you and everybody that you have designed a non-intuitive interface. It should have been obvious to me that that was THE parent account… and I should have been unable to change it. Instead, I figured it was just placeholder information since Peter might not have known all of my details when he set things up.

Oh Deb, you’re just an edge case and we don’t have to design for you.

Am I the only child account of Peter’s that tried this? Maybe. I tend to be tenacious about forms and info. I tend to read everything. But somewhere there is someone like me making the parent account wonder why their account just went all wrong.

I’m not so special. And a good UX person would design with users like me in mind. Hey, someone may go into account settings and think they have to put in their info. Let’s make sure they don’t overwrite the master or parent account! Nobody who is user-centered would be like NO let’s leave it.

Can you think about a time you logged into an account, went into Settings, and the settings were for someone else’s account?

Your reseller, your middleman, your agency, etc… Usually those interfaces hide the middleman… and this one should too.

When I log in, I see a picture of Peter as my avatar. That gives me a distinct sense of my account not being mine. I thought it was just placeholder info but now I know it’s correct and stays.

I would design an interface to make sure to make a child account feel like it has its own account. Show me Peter where it’s relevant to see his account, settings, relationship, or the controls he has. But otherwise make me feel like this account is truly mine.

And keep me from making mistakes.

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Sometimes when I talk about prototyping and Axure, there is someone who thinks Axure shouldn’t exist; we should all just be writing code.

Well should we? Part of the problem with answering this is that I’m not a programmer. I can’t compare my own coding work vs my Axure work. I can only compare my Axure work to programmers trying to do the same thing or something similar at the same time.

When it comes to code vs Axure, here are the factors I tend to consider.

Who’s building it? I once had a guy at a conference tell me he didn’t need Axure because he was making all his UX people and graphic designers learn code. He was very proud that all “prototypes” would end up production ready. If they want to learn code and write code, that’s great! But what if they don’t want to learn that? What if they prefer to follow their chosen career path or UX, visual design, or both?

And what if they’re bad at it? If your dev team saw the code the UX and graphic designers are writing, would they be thrilled to merge it in? It’s always great to try to learn new things but not everybody will be naturally talented or quickly skilled at everything.

And how are these workers’ time best spent? Do you want your visual designer spending X hours a day writing code? Did your visual designer have that much spare time that you can add that to his or her plate?

Which is faster to build? Can some programmer branch off the master, whip up what you need in a few hours or days, and be done? Or you show what you need to show more quickly in Axure in hours or days? Very often Axure wins but you never know! I can tell you stories of when my Axure work was days faster than someone trying to get his code to work.

I don’t have to really tie into a database, an API, or anything else. I just have to mock it up. That should be good enough for the purposes of UX design and iteration.

Where is this going? Is it your UX ideation and design process? Is it going to user testing? And after this prototype has served its purpose, what happens? Some people hope the code can head into production, which makes Axure less attractive.

When I’m the UX architect (and not a coder), it’s fastest for me to work straight in Axure. I don’t start in Sketch or Omnigraffle and then move into prototyping. I start in Axure. This helps me get my ideas out and quickly see if they are potentially good solutions or need further evolution.

I spent many years writing HTML and CSS but I prefer the visual, drag and drop style of Axure vs trying to think of things in divs and blocks.

What is the source material? You want to show leadership what you’re building but what do you have right now? Wires? Comps? Things live on the site? From what will this be built?

Sometimes, I am prototyping from screen shots. Here is what our site or app looks like now. Slice, dice, change, add… and here is what I suggest we build. I can mock that up quickly. Would it take longer to try to write code on screen shots? Again, as a non-programmer I’m not sure.

How realistic does this have to be? Axure doesn’t do real responsive design. You can’t make a browser window narrower and watch things resize and reposition as you go. Axure works in breakpoints. Here’s desktop. THUD here’s tablet. THUD here’s mobile. If it needs to look really responsive, Axure not be right. If jumping from desktop to tablet to mobile is OK, Axure might be OK.

I believe it comes down to time and resources.

I have seen projects where the spotlight was on coding. That meant that as things finally got to some user testing or review, things had to be complete re-coded. How much time would that take vs me making some changes to an Axure file… and then testing or reviewing again?

Who is working on this and do they have the time to write code? Do they have the talent and skill to write code? Do you have another resource who is coming in just to write the code or does coding take time away from UX architects and visual designers?

Try it and see.

The best way to know is to try it. I’ll always defer to real, empirical data. If your UX process goes faster with coded prototypes over someone REALLY good with Axure building in Axure, then coding wins.

But be fair. Don’t put someone new to Axure up against an experienced coder. I’ve found that people new to Axure or uncomfy with it are sometimes slow or inefficient. Get them training! 🙂

Also consider each practitioner’s process. It’s faster for me to design right into Axure and see my ideas come to life rather than pass it to someone for prototyping. It’s a better UX process to design right into a prototype rather than designing static wires and then finding out later what the interface really feels like to use. I’d rather spend my time prototyping in Axure than troubleshooting my code.

I’m still biased toward Axure, and no, they don’t pay me anything. I am just a fan.

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One thing I always advise clients on is separating personal and business on Social Media. Most sites are personal. I wouldn’t invite clients to my personal Facebook account but they are welcome to follow our Facebook Business Page, Twitter, LinkedIn Company Page, etc… I also don’t add friends or personal contacts to LinkedIn (unless there’s business overlap).

I don’t give business contacts my personal phone number or personal email address. I don’t have friends contact me at my business phone or email. These seem obvious but the same is true for social media.

I really do try to keep the two separate. I recommend that. Not everybody is your friend. And that’s OK!

And remember when posts are public.

Tweets are public. LinkedIn posts can be public or just for your LinkedIn connections. Facebook posts have a variety of options but the short version would be: your post on Facebook is likely public or just for your Facebook friends.

All of my Facebook posts (except a couple… over 10 years) are friends only. This is my private, social world. This is my mostly inner circle of people I trust. Every time I post, I eyeball the privacy setting. Will this post be public or just for friends? I check to make sure.

You hear more and more that people Google each other. I do. You might also. They want to see what they can learn about you without asking. Let’s see their tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, maybe even Instagram. Heck, they might have Pinterest if people are still doing that. Business associates might look for a personal website. Personal contacts might try to learn more about your work or business. Expect this!

Here is someone who seems to think his post is non-public.

I landed on a guy’s Facebook wall after he replied to a comment on a Facebook page we both like. His first public post was a picture of a wall of tools. It might have been his cover photo. But the photo had a caption that I could also see.

“I realized that the old photo was visible to prospective employers and while I’m an adult and cool they’re likely not.”

He insults his potential employers. And they will see this. If they check Facebook for someone with his name (and then recognise his face from his profile photo), they can go to his wall like I did. The first post they will see is this one… declaring them uncool and possibly immature.

As I moved through his public pictures and posts on his wall, I think I found the image that concerned him. But it was also there and public, probably a former cover photo. I think he didn’t realise that all cover photos are public and making something a new cover photo doesn’t change the privacy settings on the old one.

I’m not a jerk so I sent a FB message to let him know posts and images he seems to think are private are actually public. I’m glad he thought about his privacy but execution matters.

And your email mailing list too.

I do business with someone who is very religious. He has an email mailing list for his business (which is medical and non-religious). The last time I saw him, he was telling me that he was thinking about sending an email to the mailing list about his church. I said absolutely NOT.

I had a frank talk with him about why we don’t overlap business and personal, especially religion, politics, etc… I told him he wouldn’t want to join my mailing list to hear my ideas and then get an email with a very politically liberal message. Oooo, that sunk in, he saw my point.

I suggested another mailing list for the religious stuff. People can opt in if they are from his church (and his customers) or just interested. Or have cards at the front that people can take if they are interested. But don’t email me this. I will leave the email list and miss your exciting business announcements.


Consider post privacy. Consider your audience. Check carefully. Don’t friend everybody! These are my suggestions.

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