What Is UX and Why Does It Matter?
As a user experience designer here at reinteractive it’s been amazing to see the attention user experience has received over the last 10 years. There’s been radical progress from confounding interfaces to simpler more elegant solutions that make life so much easier.
Despite this focus, I still see websites and applications with baffling interfaces, and I get the feeling that businesses with technological touch points might still have a way to go.
It asks a question, do businesses have a good understanding of UX design and its true potential?
Let’s see if we can demystify it a little.
What is User Experience (UX)
Let’s start with the basics. User Experience (UX) is the impression a user gets from interacting with a product’s interface.
User Experience Design is the discipline of centering a product on the user, and improving that impression. The most important function of UX design is the process of discovering user frustrations and removing them, it contains many techniques and supplementary objectives including:
Fast prototyping which allows fast testing and improves collaboration.
Accessibility which broadens the number of users who can comfortably interact with your product.
Generating user delight - an elusive but often powerful goal.
Discovering unknown customer needs and drivers.
This all adds up to improving the impression you leave on your customers.
Why Is UX Important?
Reducing frustrations and pain points isn’t just nice for a user, it pays serious dividends including; user retention, increased referrals, better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), higher conversion rates, brand loyalty, and often reducing further application development time.
On the other hand, User Experience Design can be time consuming and expensive, so is it worth it?
One report by Forrester found that on average every $1 invested in improving user experience resulted in a return of $100. This 9,900% ROI figure seems astounding, but I’ve seen projects beat that number on conversion rate alone, even before factoring in the other benefits previously mentioned.
Even if you’ve made extensive UX improvements to your project, there is usually still space for more advanced and complex UX techniques to add significant value.
What Makes A Good User Experience?
If you want great user experience you have to develop an empathetic connection between your customers and product, and center the user in your decision making process. This can be a challenging process, but if followed carefully is extremely valuable.
That’s a bit esoteric, so let me give you some actionable pointers to get started:
Tip 1: Get to the point
Users don’t tend to read much of the text on a website. Make your copy complete, but punchy and to the point.
Tip 2: Make the main interaction obvious
Even if your page is fairly straightforward you should put the main interaction where the user will expect it, and make it stand out. This can increase conversion and reduce frustration significantly.
Tip 3: Pay attention to accessibility
Accessibility isn’t just for edge cases. Most people can benefit from a website being easier to read, navigate, and understand.
Tip 4: Listen to feedback
Pay attention to any feedback you’re currently getting about your product. Not all of it will be gold, but I’ve found some user problem gems just by sifting through complaint emails.
Tip 5: Explore user problems and pain points
Solutions are great, but jumping to an immediately obvious solution can end up placing bandaids on a deeper problem. Try to see if there’s a pattern to your user problems and examine if there’s a deeper cause that can be improved or fixed entirely.
Tip 6: Reduce features where possible
This one can be very hard to implement. While it’s tempting to load your website with content or your app with features, it can make your product frustrating, confusing, or even exhausting.
What Is The UX Process for New Projects?
So how does UX fit into a new project? There are many approaches to applying good UX practices, some simple and others more fundamental. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at a common standard approach for new sites, applications, or features.
Step 1: Data gathering and user research
The most critical step. Finding out who the user is, what their needs are, and the existing ecosystem within which the new app or feature will fit into.
Step 2: Information architecture and user flows
Ideally you gather the information and rough content for your site or application and work out its structure before moving on. This can evolve as the project develops. If we want to track how specific users will move through the product we can create user flows to help design this process.
Step 3: Wireframing & Evaluation
Once the basic layout of the app or website is decided on, work can begin roughing each screen out and deciding where features exist. A wireframe is meant as a quick reference for decision making and basic user testing.
Step 4: High Fidelity Design
As the wireframes take shape the final visuals can begin to be crafted. These are usually designed as screens to give a feel for the look of the site, which will later be converted to a style guide for the application.
Step 5: HiFi User Testing
If needed the high fidelity designs can be tested with users to provide final feedback before development.
While it takes extra time up front, conducting user interviews, tests, and research through the UX process is very powerful and can save a lot of time in the long run.
I hope I’ve given you some useful insights and tools with this blog to help you think about user experience practices at your company. If you’d like user experience help on your next project, get in touch with us at reinteractive!