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Clari-Fi

Clari-Fi uses blurring to simulate the challenges of viewing small icons, images and text on mobile screens

 

Introduction to assessing e-commerce images

Clari-Fi helps to evaluate the visual clarity (i.e. perceptibility) of e-commerce images, focusing on whether the critical details will remain visible when the image is presented as a small thumbnail within a mobile search results page.

This page first describes why Clari-Fi should be used to assess e-commerce images, then gives further details on who should perform the assessments, and what screen the images should be assessed on. A worked example is then used to describe each of the Clari-Fi Check Levels in turn (these are named Check Level AAA, Check Level AA and Check Level A). Finally, a summary is presented of the assessment process, and the calibration to population data.

On this page:

Why should Clari-Fi be used to assess e-commerce images?

The majority of e-commerce transactions now take place on mobiles, yet e-commerce images are typically designed and developed on desktops or laptops with large screens.

As defined in the GS1 MRHI guideline, there are 4 key messages that an e-commerce image should communicate (the 4Ws). These are: ‘Who is the brand?’, ‘What is it?’, ‘Which variety is it?’ (e.g. flavour/fragrance), and ‘HoW much of it is there?’.

Clari-Fi speeds up the process of optimising e-commerce images for mobiles, because it enables the visual clarity (i.e. perceptibility) of the 4Ws to be evaluated on a large screen device, and uses blurring to simulate the challenges of perceiving the 4Ws when the image is displayed within a mobile search results page.

Who should perform the assessments?

Using Clari-Fi to assess e-commerce images is more objective than an assessor looking at an unblurred version of the image, and deciding if they think the 4Ws are communicated clearly enough within it.

However, some degree of subjectivity remains in the process, because the assessor's familiarity with the brand portfolio can influence the details that they need to perceive in order to determine the 4Ws. To mitigate this issue, the assessments should be performed by someone whose knowledge of the brand portfolio is similar to the shoppers. The assessment should not be performed by the person that created the image that is being assessed!

What screen should the images be assessed on?

When evaluating the blurred versions of the e-commerce image, it doesn’t usually matter exactly how large the image appears on the screen it’s being viewed on. The image just needs to be reasonably large, such that it’s the applied blurring that limits whether the 4Ws can be perceived. This makes Clari-Fi assessments quick and convenient to perform.

In order to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter exactly how large the e-commerce image appears on the screen that it’s being evaluated on, the image below shows 4 lines of test chart letters that have been blurred. The same image is then presented again at double the size, with the same degree of blurring applied. Note that doubling the size at which the image is viewed doesn’t make any difference to the readability of the letters, because this is being limited by the degree of blurring that has been applied, which is the same in both cases.

This effect is particularly convenient because it means the e-commerce image can be evaluated on a large screen monitor, and it doesn't matter exactly how large the monitor is, how far away the assessor is from the monitor, or what the exact zoom level is.

Worked example

A worked example will now be presented for the e-commerce image shown opposite. The image will be assessed against each of the Clari-Fi Check Levels in turn (these are named Check Level AAA, Check Level AA and Check Level A).

Check Level AAA

Check Level AAA applies the most severe level of blurring, so visual details that remain visible at Check Level AAA are extremely easy to see. When the image is displayed within a mobile search results page, the percentage of people who might have difficulty perceiving these details is in the range 0-28%*.

See the understand page, to find out more about this calibration to population data.

All 4Ws passing Check Level AAA is a ‘best practice’ stretch target for e-commerce images. This target can usually be achieved for products that have a reasonably square aspect ratio, but may not be achievable for products that are tall and thin or flat and wide (because there isn’t as much space available within the pack image).

The 4Ws are first assessed against Check Level AAA. Any of the 4Ws that fail Check Level AAA are then assessed at less stringent Check Levels. The assessments are done in this order, because it’s better if the assessor hasn’t seen the e-commerce image before, and in this way the details of the e-commerce image are progressively revealed throughout the assessment process.

Considering the example opposite:

  • Determining that it’s made by Dove (Who is the brand?) passes Check Level AAA, so the percentage of shoppers who might have difficulty perceiving this message is in the range 0-28%* (when the image is displayed within a mobile search results page). This message meets the ‘best practice’ stretch target for e-commerce images.
  • Determining ‘What is it?’, ‘Which variety is it?’ and ‘HoW much of it is there?’ fail at Check Level AAA, so these messages are now assessed against Check Level AA.

* Population percentages refer to people who might have difficulty because of visual acuity issues. Some people may have difficulty perceiving these details for other reasons, especially colourblindness.

Check Level AA

Check Level AA applies a moderate level of blurring, so visual details that remain visible at Check Level AA are reasonably easy to see. When the image is displayed within a mobile search results page, the percentage of people who might have difficulty perceiving these details is in the range 28-52%*.

Check Level AA should be the minimally acceptable level of visual clarity for e-commerce images. This target should be achievable for all e-commerce images, and Unilever now requires that any new or updated e-commerce images must pass Check Level AA before they are sent to retailers.

Considering the example opposite:

  • Determining that it’s a box of soap bars (What is it?) passes Check Level AA, although this is a judgement call that may depend on the familiarity with the brand portfolio. The percentage of shoppers who might have difficulty perceiving this message is in the range 28-52%* (when the image is displayed within a mobile search results page). This message meets the minimally acceptable level of visual clarity for e-commerce images.
  • Determining ‘Which variety is it?’ and ‘HoW much of it is there?’ fail at Check Level AA, so these messages are now assessed against Check Level A.

* Population percentages refer to people who might have difficulty because of visual acuity issues. Some people may have difficulty perceiving these details for other reasons, especially colourblindness.

Check Level A

Check Level A applies a small amount of blurring. When the image is displayed within a mobile search results page, details that pass Check Level A will be visible to some degree, but these do not reach the minimally acceptable level of visual clarity for an e-commerce image. The percentage of people who might have difficulty perceiving these details is in the range 52-100%*.

Details that fail Check Level A are extremely difficult, if not impossible to see. When the image is displayed within a mobile search results page, these details are so small that they are probably beyond the limit of human vision.

Considering the example opposite:

  • Reading the text to determine that it’s the ‘beauty cream’ variant (Which variety is it?) passes Check Level A, so the percentage of shoppers who might have difficulty perceiving this message is in the range 52-100%* (when the image is displayed within a mobile search results page). This message does not reach the minimally acceptable level of visual clarity for an e-commerce image.
  • Determining that the box contains 4x100g bars (HoW much of it is there?) fails Check Level A. When the image is displayed within a mobile search results page, the details that convey this message are so small that they are probably beyond the limit of human vision.

Many products still use pack shots for their e-commerce images, in which case it is likely that one or more of the 4Ws will fail Check Level A. Digitally enhancing these images so that they pass Check Level A would be an improvement, but Check Level AA should be the minimally acceptable level for e-commerce images.

In order to pass Check level AA, it is likely that the image will need to be digitally manipulated to amplify the communication of the 4Ws, and omit unnecessary details. See the Manipulating the front of pack page within the Mobile Ready Hero Image Guidelines for further information.

* Population percentages refer to people who might have difficulty because of visual acuity issues. Some people may have difficulty perceiving these details for other reasons, especially colourblindness.

Summary of the assessment process

The Clari-Fi assessment process is summarised as follows:

  • On a large screen laptop or monitor, show the Check Level AAA version of the image to someone who hasn't seen the image before, but is familiar with the brand in general. Ask that person if they can identify the 4Ws in the image ('Who is the brand?', 'What is it?', 'Which variety is it?' (e.g. flavour/fragrance), and 'HoW much of it is there?').
  • Each of these messages passes Check Level AAA if the assessor can determine them from the blurred image 'quickly and with certainty'.
  • If the 4Ws fail at Check Level AAA, then the assessment can be repeated at Check Level AA, and then again at Check Level A. The next panel describes how these Check Levels are calibrated to population data.

The level of blurring that's applied by Clari-Fi is calibrated to survey data that was gathered using a handheld test card, so the design team can be reasonably confident that if the 4Ws appear 'easy to see' in the blurred version of the e-commerce image, then the vast majority of shoppers will find the 4Ws 'easy to see', even when the image is presented as a small thumbnail within a mobile search results page.

In order to assess an e-commerce image in Clari-Fi, the assessor determines whether the 4Ws can be determined 'quickly and with certainty' in the blurred version of the image. It is important for the assessor to consider whether the 4Ws can be determined 'quickly and with certainty', in order to predict the performance of the image when shoppers are fast scrolling through a mobile search results page.

Summary of calibration population data

The following table summarises how the different Check Levels are calibrated to population data.

If the details within the image remain perceptible at …   then the percentage of people that might have difficulty perceiving these details is …   and the conclusion is …
Check Level AAA  0-28%*  Best practice
Check Level AA  28-52%*  Minimally acceptable+
Check Level A  52-100%*  Not good enough

Details that fail Check Level A are impossible to see. When these details are displayed on a mobile phone screen, they are so small that they are beyond the limit of human vision.

If you want to find out more about the survey that underpins the population data within this tool, see understand page.

* Population percentages refer to people who might have difficulty because of visual acuity issues. Some people may have difficulty perceiving these details for other reasons, especially colourblindness.

+ 28-52% of the population having difficulty wouldn’t normally be considered a minimally acceptable level. However, designing e-commerce images for mobile screens is an extreme challenge, and many e-commerce images would be improved if they could at least reach this level of visual clarity.

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