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Email Service App

Background

Within the marketplace, there are many email marketing services available for customers to select. In general, these services market their products as fully customizable, easy-to-use and intuitive, especially for people who do not have much experience with design or web development. As a result, email services are extremely popular and viewed as effective applications for communicating with clients. However, email service drag and drop editors have limitations that often contradicts the perception that the application is customizable and easy-to-use. Unless a user is proficient in markup languages, they may find that the email service is not as customizable as they hoped. At times, email platforms can feel constricting, especially for people who may be accustomed to having more flexibility when designing products. Additionally, some email design features and editors can be confusing and difficult to understand, resulting in low user satisfaction. Other times, platforms may be missing common features that users expect.

To understand and evaluate email service design features, a comparative analysis and survey was conducted. Four commonly used platforms – MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor and iContact – were included during the comparative analysis. The analysis examined specific design features in order to better understand the email marketing landscape. Each platform was scored against one another using a set of common tasks and email features. In addition to the comparative analysis, a survey was conducted to gauge user satisfaction, preferences and experiences.

To better understand and examine how people create customized HTML emails using online email marketing services, I explored the industry marketplace to gain insights into ways of improving a user’s ability to create customized HTML email communications using a drag and drop editor. The projects primary goals included:

  1. Create a competitive advantage in the email service marketplace by designing a new drag and drop tool that is usable, useful and customizable.
  2. Identify user experience gaps in comparative applications.
  3. Reduce frustrations that people have with email services by designing a platform that addresses common challenges.
  4. Create an innovative digital product that people want to use.
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Comparative analysis: measuring product features

I conducted a comparative analysis to review how different email services manage tasks, present features and solve design challenges. During the exercise, each feature or task was awarded a quantitative score. This score was used to prioritize specific design and interaction-related features across platforms. Additionally, the audit qualitatively documented and collected observations during the analysis process. This information was used to help identify ideal features, functionality, visual style, labeling, navigation and taxonomy, as well as strengths and challenge areas. During the comparative analysis, four email services were measured and analyzed – MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact and Campaign Monitor. The observation provided feedback on each of the four platforms, identified usability and user experience issues and prioritized potential email service features for the new email application. In addition to measuring the four platforms quantitatively, a series of notes and observations were collected for each feature and task. Collecting and compiling notes provided an opportunity to supplement and strengthen the quantitative data.

View Comparative Analysis

Survey: understanding the user

An online screener and survey was used to collect information about who uses email platforms and determine attitudes, experiences and frustrations with specific tools. Based on the research findings, the project uncovered commonalities in user behavior and identified the types of features and functionality that people want from their email service. Additionally, the survey indicated which platforms, features and tasks give users difficulty. Finally, through a series of open-ended questions, participants had an opportunity to explain their preferred methods for creating emails. Using data from the survey results, along with observations from the comparative analysis, I identified parallels between the four platforms and user’s experiences with email services.

View Survey Questions

Results: research findings

Design features. Email platforms currently excel at allowing users to customize text, edit photos, change background and border colors and adequately label all features. Conversely, platforms could improve upon icon and image libraries, dividers and spacers and the ability for users to create tables and tabulate data into charts.

Customer satisfaction. Most survey participants expect having the ability to fully customize email text, while not using HTML/CSS to design their communications. Additionally, people like having the option to test their email designs. Overall, the ability to add images, edit images and auto-save is not a high priority for users.

Participant demographics. A majority of the respondents have some working knowledge of HTML/CSS, however, 100% of them use a drag and drop editor to design emails. Overall, people have multiple years of experience and feel comfortable using an email platform.

Platform preferences. The respondents were asked to identify the reason(s) why they selected a particular email design platform. The majority of the respondents selected a platform based on affordability, content editing features, reporting metrics and because their employer had already selected it for them. People are less influenced to choose a platform based on others’ experiences or through reading reviews.

View Research Findings

Recommendations: determining next steps

As a result of the data collected from the online survey and comparative analysis, the following recommendations should be considered.

More customization. In the survey, multiple participants suggested that they would like the platform to be more customizable. As indicated in the data, advanced customization leads to higher satisfaction.

Specific features. The comparative analysis revealed 13 feature categories that users find efficient, effective and usable. Some of these features include an ability to stylize all sections without having the repeat the process, manually resize images by clicking and dragging, mobile and desktop previews and a manual save button.

WYSIWYG editor. Users value an easy-to-use text editor. The most popular editor tools/buttons include: insert link, bold text, font size, italics, paste, font color, font type, cut, copy and remove link.

Visual style. 80% of participants prefer Campaign Monitor’s visual style. As a result, the proposed application layout should use whites, grays and blacks. Additionally, the application’s feature icons should be minimal, clean and include both graphics and text.

Additional research. While the online survey and comparative analysis produced valuable insights into the email marketplace, people’s habits, experiences, frustrations and preferences, additional research should be conducted to strengthen the preliminary findings. In order to identify exactly which features and tools should be created for the new platform, a series of usability tests are recommended.

View Recommendations Report