How and Why to Get User Experience Right
This is a guest post by Y Media Labs, written by Rae Steinbach.
How and Why to Get User Experience Right
The problems users reported after attempting to engage with HealthCare.gov has made poor user experience design (UX) a hot topic of late. When done well, UX hardly gets a mention; when it fails, businesses risk losing current and future customers.
What is UX?
User Experience is the way a person feels about their experience with your product. Understandably, organizations want customers to feel good about purchasing and using their products. Most often this relies upon more than one factor and includes usability, performance, aesthetics, and the overall customer experience strategy, to name a few.
Usability is the key component of overall user experience, but by no means is the only essential feature of good UX design. Part science and part art form, it is almost impossible to predict accurately how a site or app will be perceived. As such, testing plays a large part in getting UX right.
How to Design a Quality UX
UX should be at the center of the design process. Collaboration between a team of designers is a great start. By working together, any problems of aesthetics, vision, goals and overall user experience can be managed adequately with the user front of mind. Creating a superb user experience is everyone’s responsibility, from designer, to developer, and on to CEO.
Once the initial drafts of the app or website have been made, it is important for the team to ask a few questions about it. These include:
Does it create a shared story that will be familiar to all users?
Does it fit the emotional connection you are aiming for with users?
Is the experience what you expected and planned for?
Does the site work as intended with the right outcomes?
After answering these, it is time for possibly the most important aspect of the design process: testing. This is where unexpected design or process faults will be exposed. It is very rare for an initial design to end up as the final product. Take the feedback garnered from the testing, work on revisions, and then test again, and again, if necessary.
What Distinguishes Bad UX Design?
There are numerous examples of poor user experience design, not all of them contained in the digital space and not all of them attributed to inexperienced designers. From parking sign overload to mystery navigation links and gestures, one of the common elements of poor UX design is the increased cognitive load that it puts upon users.
In terms of digital products, if you make your site or app too difficult to understand you will lose users within seconds – 6 to 8 seconds to be precise. Bad design fails to make clear what the site or app is about, what users are supposed to do once there, or doesn’t quickly capture interest. The end results being that you lose the user and are unlikely to ever have them visit your site or app again.
Great UX Design and What It Means For You
Good UX design is intuitive, obvious, and overall produces positive emotions in users. It is simple, clear, and reduces friction between the user and what they are trying to accomplish. UX hugely influences how quickly a new app or site will be adopted, and if it will be at all.
The benefits of great UX design for businesses go beyond simple usage. Increased engagement, adoption, customer loyalty, and satisfaction lead to repeat business and customer referrals. Research by Forrester found that great UX design can increase conversions between 200 and 400%.
Although UX is crucial for any digital (or other) product, it is even more important for particular functions, processes, and businesses. For example, online sales or donations need to be as seamless as possible to aid the users in reaching the checkout before abandoning their cart or stopping their gift.
Complex flows taking anything more than five screens to complete benefit from great UX as users remain comfortable throughout and willing to complete all necessary tasks. For small businesses and startups’ websites, UX is crucial as it’s often their first impression on potential clients and an opportunity to build the momentum needed to push the business forward.
Keeping UX at the heart of new digital product development gives businesses a much higher chance of finding success and retaining their existing customers and audiences.