The user experience (UX) is one of the most important elements (if not the most important element) of a successful software program, mobile app, or website design; however, UX can refer to almost any product or service throughout numerous industries. Poor UX design will prevent users from wanting to interact with your product or service again; good UX will keep your users engaged.
So what exactly is UX? It’s the overall experience that a user has with a product or service. Take a website for example. The UX of your website will depend on a variety of elements, from the ease of navigation to the visual layout of each page to how fast each page loads. Each element contributes to the experience a user has on your site.
A poor UX can sour users on your brand. It can make it difficult to convert the leads that you put so much effort into attracting to your site and it can make it difficult to get potential customers to use your app even after they’ve downloaded it.
Take the UX design of a company website, for example. A lead may end up on your site after performing a Google search for a product that you happen to sell. If your page doesn’t load fast enough or the layout of your e-commerce page is confusing, they may go back to Google and click on another link. If they’re trying to find information about a problem they have on your site and you don’t have a search function that works effectively, they may give up and try elsewhere. Good UX design will help keep leads on your site and make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
User experience and user interface (UI) are terms that are often used interchangeably, but mistakenly so. UI refers to how a service or product functions and looks on the surface. UX certainly focuses on the function of a product or service as well, but in the name of the user’s journey to solve a specific problem. For example, the visual design of a screen on a mobile app or the CTA (call-to-action) button on a website is part of the UI. The UX takes into consideration all of these elements and how they function together to create an overall experience for the user. Essentially, the UI is a part of the UX.
Another way to look at it is to compare it to the human body. When you interact with a person, you’re interacting with what’s on the outside. This would be equivalent to the UI. However, the UX would be everything found inside the body that actually makes it function.
Your entire website plays a part in the user experience. This includes everything that makes up how your site looks, from the colors and fonts to the images. Even the negative space on each page affects the UX. This is because a webpage needs to be easy to scan so that users can find what they’re looking for. If a page is cluttered with text all in different fonts, countless images, and clashing colors, then it will be an overwhelming mess.
Beyond the aesthetic of the site, the actual function also affects the UX. For example, your pages need to load quickly, your links need to work, your site needs to be easy to navigate, and everything should be optimized for mobile use (a website not optimized for mobile use will not load properly on smaller screens and can make navigation incredibly difficult).
At the very least, your website or mobile app should have these elements to ensure a good UX:
We’ve only really scratched the surface of what UX consists of, but one conclusion that’s easy to draw based on everything you’ve read is that the success of your website or app depends on your UX design. Keeping that in mind, building UX involves more than a few different fields. Some of the different departments that focus on UX design include:
UX doesn’t just begin and end with the design elements of your website or app. There are technology-based impacts as well as human-based impacts that affect your UX as well.
These technology-based impacts on UX should be addressed when building your app or website:
It won’t matter how much effort you put into the design or interface of a product if your site’s or app’s infrastructure is poor. A stable and reliable infrastructure will help prevent the site or app from crashing due to a variety of reasons. Poor infrastructure can also result in slow down if your site draws a significant amount of simultaneous traffic. Any kind of slow down or crashing obviously affects the UX of your site or app.
Certain features, such as a search bar, can greatly improve the function of a website. However, not all search bars are intuitive. Your search bar should be noticeable and not hidden in your navigation bar, and should be accessible on every page. Also, consider allowing users to search for multiple criteria, which will improve the effectiveness of your search function. Then, add an auto-suggestion mechanism to your search bar. The point of such a tool isn’t necessarily to save users time when typing in what they’re looking for, but to help guide the user by helpfully suggesting searches that may be relevant.
Automation can help improve engagement with users, thereby improving the UX of your site. For example, if they sign up to your email newsletter, you can use automation tools to send out a welcome email as soon as they submit an opt-in form. You can also implement a chat bot on your site that can automatically answer basic questions your users may have on your behalf. This keeps users from having to wait for you to get back to them and allows them to continue using your website in an effective manner.
Don’t assume that your UX is based solely on the technology you use and implement. You can’t just build your site and then wash your hands of it, no matter how carefully you planned the UX design. This is because the UX of your site is also a dependent on your ability to personally engage with your users.
While you can automate some of your responses, this isn’t always possible every time a user tries to engage with you. For example, it’s better to have someone engage with a user in person via live chat on your website if they have questions or concerns. While automation is great for answering basic questions after hours, optimum UX calls for a human to speak with users to answer more complex questions or provide guidance or advice. Additionally, if they fill out a contact form or send you an email, you will need to respond quickly or you could lose your leads.
If your content is poor, users won’t stay on your site for very long. They are likely looking for content that will address a problem or question. If your content isn’t relevant to their problem, they won’t waste their time on your site for much longer. If it is relevant but it’s of poor quality, it will reflect poorly on your brand. If your content isn’t of quality, what assurance do they have that your product or service won’t be of poor quality as well? Good content is essential to not only engaging users, but also to helping build your brand authority, which, in turn, builds trust.
Always start with the user. You’re building a website or app to attract more leads to convert into more sales, so the UX design is the most important element to address. To create a good UX, understand who your audience is, what their needs are, what their problems are, and what solutions they’re looking for. Build your site or app around this understanding of your users (taking into account your business goals and objectives as well) to ensure a good UX design. Remember, good UX revolves around improving the user’s interaction with your site or app and improving the perceptions of your product or any related services.
Need some assistance with planning your user experience? Speak to the experts today!