What is User Experience (UX)?
User experience refers to the emotional responses an individual experiences after been in contact with or using technology, more specifically for our purposes, a website. That means user experience is directly influenced by the design of your website and if it’s great, the user experience will be: satisfying, pleasing, interesting, rewarding and even exciting. But if it’s bad, the user experience will be boring, disappointing, aggravating, irritating and even upsetting.
So there is rather a lot riding on getting your user experience right.
Why is UX Important?
User Experience is important because it is the difference between having customers, and having loyal, returning customers which are far more valuable. The proof of this can be found in everyday life, because let’s be honest, we’ve all had a bad user experience on or offline… for example, when was the last time you went to your local supermarket and couldn’t find that jar of curry paste (or whatever) you so desperately needed because the shopping aisles were a mess, with items not displayed clearly and empty boxes and stacking trolleys getting in the way of the shelves?
It probably wasn’t so long ago. Now think about your reaction when that experience happened – chances are it resulted in a complaint or at least a feeling of frustration or as in my case, a growing sense of rage that leads to a complete abandonment of all my shopping and a quick storm out of the store altogether. In other words, a poor user experience can cause losses in business and losses in profits.
This works exactly the same online. Except the problem can be even more intensified because there aren’t staff on hand to help you out or a physical shopping aisle to guide you around.
How to Ensure Your UX is Great
As mentioned above, a major contributor to the user experience of your website is the design, but you also need to consider elements such as: content, navigation, usability, accessibility, pricing, reviews and functioning. The way to ensure all of these factors come together to create a great website, which delivers a fantastic user experience, is to start with fantastic user experience professionals.
Getting a team on board with a strong portfolio of user experience work under their belts brings to the table an empathetic knowledge of your brands’ audience and users so your website can be designed and tailored to suit them best.
These means the first step you should take towards creating a great user experience, is gather customer insights.
Armed with insights in to who your customers are and want they want from your website and how they use it, you can begin considering designs for your site. Bringing in a digital agency with a strong user experience portfolio can be beneficial here again, because they will be disciplined when it comes to keeping the design, branding and graphics user oriented rather than succumbing to ideals and preferences. The most important aspect of the design process is creating the information architecture of the site, which organises the content, flow and arrangement so it is most efficient and pleasing to use.
Another advantage of using a digital agency to design your site is that, alongside experts in user experience designs, there will be developers, designers and tech people on hand to ensure the proposals in the design are actually achievable in practice. This is ideal because there’s nothing worse than been handed an amazing design, getting excited about it, and then be told be the guy in the corner that there’s no way he can build it. It saves time and therefore money in the long run.
A final tip to help you build an impressive user experience is simple. Start as you mean to go on. By this we mean, begin the project with a user experience team on board from day one. A typical pitfall companies fall into is coding the website first, and then trying to address issues of user experience. For a truly great UX, it needs considering from the start so it can be integrated into every stage of your final website, this shouldn’t be surprising as most user experience work is done in silo.
Finally, to maintain the great user experience you have created it is vital to monitor and report on users’ behaviour and reactions to it.
This means monitoring things like bounce rate for example, because analyses like this allow you to identify any potential problems, and rectify them, quickly.
Why the World Would End Without Great UX
As User Experience effects every aspect of the users interaction with your site and therefore their progression through your sales funnel, without it, your entire online operation will be vulnerable to the negative reactions triggered by negative experiences such as: complaints, basket abandonment, low customer retention or a high bounce rate.