The “user experience” or UX is a term you hear a lot these days.
This is because we live in an age of instant gratification, where consumers are looking for ways to make our lives simpler, faster, and better… right this second.
But what exactly is the user experience all about? How can you develop interfaces that make people want to use them rather than wanting to tear their hair out?
This blog explores exactly what UX is all about and breaks down the fundamental elements necessary for good UX for companies that may be considering increasing their UX capabilities.
Good UX means that customer facing platforms are designed in a way that allows the customer to have a good experience. In the case of providing a product or service, this means the experience of browsing for and making a purchase is painless, seamless, and ultimately successful.
A few ways you might see UX impacting your business include:
- For a product, that might mean finding what they were looking for quickly or suggesting an appropriate product based on the customer’s search input.
- For a service such as finding a restaurant, this would mean quickly suggesting a restaurant of the type the customer wanted, in a nearby area.
- For non-purchases, e.g. the UX of an internal expenses system, this means that it’s easy for your employees to use it. They shouldn’t have to enter duplicate information and labour through endless fields or screens, wasting time and getting frustrated.
User experience is the domain of UX Designers. These are specialists who understand how users think and respond when interacting with platforms or systems. People often think they know what makes something common sense or easy to use, but in reality it is actually a complex task that requires a lot of thought and planning to create something that looks simple and is simple to use.
UX Designers take pride in creating systems that are so seamless to use that the user doesn’t even have to think about it, it just appears intuitive. This means users can reach their goals (and achieve gratification) quickly and efficiently.
There are four UX fundamentals that need to be considered for every project:
1. User Behaviour
No matter what you’re offering, you need to consider human behaviour if you want to design something user friendly. The way people think and respond forms the foundation for making something that people perceive as easy to use.
So what is the best way to find out what people think, like and don’t like? Ask them. Interviewing users is one of the best ways to understand your customers and what their expectations are. You can use interview responses to develop a customer journey map - which visually documents each step of your customer’s journey from the moment of their initial interaction with your company through to purchasing a product or service.
Having a good UX is very much about the emotional response of users as they navigate towards their goal. But the UX also needs to make business sense too. A UX is no good if it can’t be programmed or is impractical to implement.
The ideal solution will involve an alignment of the customer journey you design based on user interviews and feedback and an effective process to implement your company’s business goals. Putting together this strategy is all about researching and then answering the questions - what do we want our users to do and how can we help them do it?
At the end of the day, a good UX is always about usability. If the UX doesn’t enable the user to reach their goal or is it is too challenging then it has been poorly developed. Aesthetics is important too but for the UX, functionality is king. Many people talk about simplicity and minimalism but what you should really be aiming for is not to make something as minimal as possible, but instead to make something that has everything that is needed and nothing that isn’t.
Usability is also about accessibility, meaning your product is accessible to the widest audience possible. This means that your UX should consider people with physical constraints, so that people with visual or auditory disabilities or the elderly can easily interact with your site or service. There are many services that assist in this area, with some of the best being the W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines and Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Toolkit.
Validation is the final piece of the UX puzzle. Your process needs to be tested out in the real world before you know whether it is truly user friendly. What may seem intuitive on a customer journey map may not actually be so straightforward to every user.
You should ensure that the UX process has an emphasis on testing with real users early on in the process so you have a chance to iterate improvements before wider release. The more mistakes or improvements you can identify early, the fewer users you will lose when it really matters.
The XLdigital team at FinXL are experts in understanding what good UX looks like and can help you identify areas where UX design at your organisation can be improved. They can help you find the right UX Designer to improve your user experience, leading to happier users and better performance and profits.