UX is short for User Experience. This refers to the overall experience a user has when interacting with a product. For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on Digital Products, mainly websites and apps.
Here’s a very basic example of good vs. bad UX:
Users are your potential customers. You want their experience with your company to be a good one. Think of every time you’ve gotten frustrated at a poorly made piece of tech. Now imagine one of your customers having a similar experience.
We want to reduce the risk of frustrating our customers as much as possible. Happy customers give you more business.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on UX for digital products, namely; mobile apps, desktop apps, and websites.
User Experience & The Value of Your Web Presence
If you’re a business owner, it’s 99.9% likely that you have a website for your business. Something this necessary to modern business practices shouldn’t be an afterthought. The experience a customer has with your digital product and/or website is just as important (and often more important) than the experience they have at your physical store, or office.
Small Changes can Equal Big Returns
What kind of experience do your users have when they visit it? Does it load quickly, or too slow? Is the layout easy to navigate or are there too many things shoved onto a page? Does it work well on mobile? Is it clear what a user is suposed to do on your website (reference information, contact you, make a purchase, etc.)? Is the text easy to read or does it strain the eyes?
All of these things and more influence the experience a user has when interacting with your website. If the experience isn’t efficient, easy, and reliable you could be losing out on a lot of business.
Examples of Small But Impactful Changes
Something as simple as making a “Add to Cart” button stand out more with a brighter color can greatly influence how many sales you make.
Short Attention Spans = Slim Margin of Error
The value of a good User Experience could mean the difference between your current online sales and selling exponentially more. UX Designers add value by understanding people, how they interact with software, and how to manipulate those interactions to serve a specific purpose.
What is UX Design?
UX Designers manipulate user behavior to benefit your business. They shape the User Experience to fit the needs of your business. This is done in a number of ways, and there are a lot of different types of UX Design.
UX Designers have ways of improving things like;
- Online Sales
- Customer Satisfaction
- Customer Trust
- Information Gathering
- Traffic to your website
- Amount of users for your app
UX Designers & Researchers have a direct symbiotic relationship between Sales, SEO, Marketing, Branding, and Security.
This is due to the fact that all of these things are informed by data, and so is UX Design.
How These Relationships Work
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Today UX is an SEO factor. Search engines can now detect things like mobile usability, accessibility, and speed. Google knows people are looking for sites with a good user experience and will prioritize those sites over sites that don’t provide these things.
SEO and UX are both data-centric practices that heavily overlap in the data they use and how they use it. For example: both SEOs and UX Designers take mobile usability, accessibility, and speed heavily into account when auditing a site.
It’s a UX Designers job to make it as easy as possible to get a user/customer make a purchase on your website. They do everything possible to reduce the number of steps it takes a user/customer to go from deciding they wish to purchase an item to having purchased an item.
UX Designers translate your sales pitch into a User Experience.
UX Designers need to work with Sales to craft the language, imagery, product information, and online sales process. Better UX means more value from your website or app and that responsibility is shared between both UX and Sales professionals.
When you’re marketing a product that is sold online, or is a pice of software, your marketers need to be able to confidently say to your customers that their online experience with your company and/or product will be easy and useful.
If you market a product (physical or digital) or service but then when customers visit your site they don’t have a good experience it hurts your marketing campaigns.
You don’t want frustration to be associated with the quality of your product or service. It gives off the impression that you don’t care about your customers.
While not all companies need to focus heavily on their Brand Image, many do. In the digital realm, your UX and Brand are closely linked. It may be surprising how much your branding choices can affect the UX of your website or app.
Example One, Feel Over Function:
What is your first instinct when you see this site? The lefthand navigation has a grid button that you would assume expands into a grid menu. Below that are numbers with a long line in-between. What do they mean? Are they clickable? Are they part of the navigation? Or just a label?
It’s unclear what the items towards the bottom right are as well. The meaning of the imagery and text in the white “Stories” section is only partially clear.
The text has little contrast to the background color. That makes it difficult to read. When that text is your sales pitch, thats not good.
Your brand uses language that is confusing. If you are a clothing brand that calls a product category “Shoes” when in reality all you sell is sneakers it may confuse users who are looking for sneakers. They may even assume you don’t sell any without clicking into different product categories to check.
Heavily branded experiences with language that is a-typical to common vernacular can lessen the experience by adding unnecessary confusion.– Mira Violet
Take Starbucks for instance. They’ve got an app for ordering drinks ahead of time.
They call their cup sizes “Short”, “Tall”, “Grande”, and “Venti”. In reality this translates to “Extra Small”, “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large”.
When you Google “Starbucks Cup Sizes” there are nearly 30,000,000 results of people online translating the cup size names into plain english.
In contrast if you search “Dunkin Donuts Cup Sizes” you get about 400,000 results.
If people feel the need to explain your branded terminology in plain english for it to be understood, it’s not helping you.
The main way UX Design & Security relate to each other is in regards to the appearance of a website or app being secure.
Things like adding imagery associated with digital security like a little green lock icon next to your password field at sign in can be enough to drastically influence someones perception of the security of a website or app.
While this depends on the industry, for instance if you have a product centered around internet security your audience may not be so easily swayed.
The appearance of being secure, or Vs. the appearance of not being secure heavily influences a users trust.
One great example of how User Experience directly affects security is with changing account passwords. If the UX has too many steps to change a password, users are less likely to change it as often as they should and this can easily result in getting accounts hacked.
Misconceptions About User Experience (UX) Design
Myth: UX Design is Just Like Any Other Design Profession
While the practice is often referred to as “UX Design” this doesn’t mean UX Designers spend time just making things pretty. They use data to inform their decisions. Attractiveness isn’t the goal. There are plenty of pretty websites and apps that have a bad User Experience.
“UX Design isn’t an art, it’s a science.”– Mira Violet
UX Design is a hybrid between Data Science, Anthropology, Social Engineering, and Information Architecture.
It’s scientific engineering. They conduct formal & informal studies, and UX Researchers are a part of the scientific community in that they publish their scientific papers on the study of human interaction with software & products. They make a change to the UX, and study how that affects user behavior.
Myth: UX Designers Are Graphic Designers
While visuals are very important in UX Design, UX Designers are not Graphic Designers. Many UX Designers can create graphics and mockups to convey ideas, but graphics aren’t what they specialize in and its most often not the best use of their time.
UX Designers aren’t Necessary to Include in the Initial Product (Website/App) Creation
Flat out wrong. Not everyone thinks this but if you do, I’m here to tell you exactly why this is the exact oposite of how to properly create a digital product.
If you don’t get a UX Designer involved in the initial design process, someone still has to design it. That responsibility often falls to someone who has no idea what they’re doing.
Myth: Your Developer Can Just Design Your UX
Your Developer isn’t a designer (some people know both design & development but this is very rare).
This is akin to hiring a construction crew to build a house without an architectural blueprint. They’ll be able to build it, and add all the right pieces. They’ll be able to make it functional and sturdy. Maybe they’ll even add some design elements that they’re familiar with.
What they won’t be able to do is create a carefully planned and data-informed User Experience.
Developers are coders and programers. Their job is to create the software, not the concept.
Coding entails formatting things so that a computer can understand how you want them displayed. It’s got nothing to do with design.
Programing is creating a set of instructions using a coding language. Programming is not unlike using a translator. You speak to the translator in a language you both understand and the translator repeats what you tell them.
Programmers articulate your desired user experience. Just because a person can translate a literary masterpiece into another language doesn’t mean that they can write one themselves.
Programmers also do things like configure your hosting server and other underlying software.
User Experience has become a staple in modern business strategy. It’s not something that should be ignored or brushed aside. It has a real, measurable impact on your bottom line and can mean the difference between wether or not you make a sale.
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