The Task-Based UX Benchmark Study

UserZoom ran a quick competitive UX benchmark study between Mothercare and Mamas & Papas, two UK-based companies that specialize on baby products, to see how users experienced navigational and core tasks as well as how they rate their overall experience on these websites.

  • We ran an unmoderated remote task-based benchmark study with 60 in-the-wild users on their own devices over the course of a single day
  • Participants were equally divided between the companies sites so that 30 went to www.mothercare.com and 30 went to www.mamasandpapas.com
  • They completed several tasks while on the site: a screenshot click test, a tree test on their main menu and a task-based test, where we asked them to look for a room & bath thermometer
  • We also measured their brand perception and how they rated their overall experience

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First impressions are lasting impressions

For starters we wanted to know the users’ first impression to both of the contenders’ sites. We showed all 60 participants images of the Mothercare and Mamas & Papas homepages and asked them to choose which site they associated with several UX attributes.

 

This week’s participants preferred Mamas & Papas homepage over Mothercare in almost every category, especially when it came to being seen as Organized, Easy, Trustworthy, Informational and Helpful. The Mothercare site, on the other hand, was associated by most with the terms Lively and Overwhelming.

Round one goes to Mamas & Papas!

Screenshot Click Test

To understand if visitors were able to easily find important information, we showed them each an image of the assigned contender’s homepage. Based on that image, we asked them to complete a simple task: “Where would you first click if you wanted to read the site’s blog?”. .

Only 1 Mothercare participant (3%) managed to succeed on this test by clicking the blog icon on the lower-left part of the page. The rest of the participants clicked elsewhere: 23% clicked on the “Advise” main menu option, 13% on “Top Advise Section”, 10% on the “Buying guides” and “Expert appointment” sections, 7% on the “My Mothercare” link, and 3% on the “Mothercare App” link.

The Mamas & Papas site had two options on their homepage from where participants could reach the blog from: a “Blog” link in the bottom menu and a icon on the bottom part of the page. None of the participants clicked on the icon, but a healthy 67% did click on the “Blog” link.

Round 2 goes to Mamas & Papas!

Tree Test

Good information architecture is necessary for providing a good search experience. To evaluate the findability, labeling and organization of the contending sites’ structures we placed participants in a plausible scenario: “Let’s say your baby’s teeth just started growing and you want to purchase a teething ring for him”.

Participants were shown the site’s main menu structure as a list of topics and asked to select the area where they think they would find a selection of teethers to choose from. Once finished they would mark the task as completed and if they reached the requested info the task would be rated as Success.

Both sites have dedicated links for teething products. Mothercare hosts the “Soothers & teething” page under “Feeding” while Mamas & Papas has two options under the “Playtime” option, one called “Theeters & comforters” under the “Shop by 0+Months” category and another one called “Teething” under “Shop by behavior”.

On the Mothercare site 27% of the participants chose the correct option. Other popular options chosen were “Baby and toddler play” under “Toys” (27%) and “Weaning and toddler feeding” under “Feeding”(23%).

On the Mamas & Papas site also 27% of the participants chose one of the correct options while a big 47% chose the “Feeding” category.

Round 3 is a tie!

Online Task-Based Test

With low barriers and no middle-man, With online platforms and easy to access apps, now anyone can trade and bet anytime, anywhere.

A recent study by TABS Analytics shows that 20% of Purchases in the baby products market are made online and even more, it found that households without young children account for approximately 40% of buyers… Those are a lot of gifts!

Knowing this information we asked participants to complete a basic task a visitor would do on either of these sites: Search and find a present for a future mother/baby.

We asked participants to find and reach the details page of a thermometer that could be used for the bath water and room temperature. Both pages have multiple “room and bath thermometers” for sale so any of them would be OK to choose from.

To evaluate the success of the task, validation through an URL was used so that only participants who reached a room and bath thermometer page would have the task be rated as success and then be redirected to further questions.

A Non-Success result meant that the participant decided to abandon the task.

 

So, how did the two challengers do?

Results revealed another draw! On both sites the 63.33% of the participants were able to complete the task successfully. But when we look at the time it took the participants who succeeded to complete the task we found that the Mamas & Papas visitors took almost twice the time it took the Mothercare ones to finish.

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After the task we asked all the users who were able to complete the task successfully to rate how easy or difficult it was to accomplish, with 1 = Very Difficult, 4 = Neutral and 7 = Very Easy. This is what they said:

Results show that more participants on the Mothercare site found it easier to complete the task.

Here are a couple of examples of the visitors’ experiences on the sites as they relate them (enable sound):


So, with shorter success times and higher ease of use rating, Round 4 goes to Mothercare!

Problems & Frustrations

After the study, we asked all participants if they encountered any problems or frustrations and their responses are here:

This week many participants did not encounter any problems or frustrations. From those who did find problems while on the sites being “too many clicks to find information” or “unsure where to begin task” were the most mentioned.

Brand Perception

Now, let’s talk about perceptions and find out what participants were really thinking about their experience. We asked participants to rate the perception they had of the challenging brands before and after their experience on sites.

For the rating scale: 1 = Very Negative, 4 = Neutral, and 7 = Very Positive. In the pre-test survey we also included the option for participants to say they’re not familiar with the brand.

Before participants interacted with the websites, Mothercare had a brand perception rating of 5.5 and Mamas and Papas a 6.1 out of 7. Mothercare had 20% of users saying they were not familiar with the brand while 27% of the Mamas & Papas participants said they were unfamiliar with the brand.

After the participants completed the different tasks, we asked if their brand perception changed. For Mothercare, brand perception increased 0.3 points while the Mamas & Papas brand perception decreased 1.1 points.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

As the final part of the study, once the participants have interacted with the sites, we asked everyone to rate how likely it was they would recommend the brands’ sites to friends, family or colleagues.

The results show that more people would be comfortable recommending Mothercare based on their experience with their homepage.

And the winner is…

This week both contenders performed almost as well. The Tree test, and Navigational Task test were very close but participants’ problems and frustrations, brand perceptions and NPS did show a difference. That is why this week’s winner is Mothercare!