User Experience, or UX, encompasses all the customer interactions with the company and its products. UX is one of the most important parts of creating an app or website. It’s also an area that is often overlooked or handed off to a junior, an intern or a graphic designer.
Let’s take a look at more reasons why we should by prioritizing user experience:
- Potential customers form opinions of your website design in less than 17 microseconds.
- 88% of customers wouldn’t return to a website after having a bad user experience.
- 76% of customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience with a brand they like.
- 52% of users say a bad mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company.
- Cart abandonment is associated with user experience, including 25% with shipping fees that are not upfront and 28% due to complicated checkout processes.
- The cost of fixing an error during implementation is 6.5x higher than fixing it during design.
User experience encompasses all the customer interactions with the company and its products. The reality is that UX is about far more than “design” — it’s about understanding your customers and how they interact with your product, application, or website. By understanding what your customers want and need on an ongoing basis (consumer behavior is not static), you can adapt to fill the brand experience gap — the space between what your brand promises and the reality of what your consumers experience.
UX can make or break an app, and it’s important to get it right on the first try.
What Is User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience design is about understanding how customers feel when they interact with a website, app, or product. At its core, a good UX design is useful, desirable, accessible, credible, findable, usable, and valuable. These key tenets are expressed by UX designer Peter Morville as a user experience honeycomb:
Although all seven hexagons are important, we’re going to touch on three of them:
The usability of a UX design refers to how easy it is for a user to interact with your app, product, or website. When we talk about improving ease-of-use, we’re concerned with the following questions:
- How easy is the user’s first interaction?
- Are the functions and interactions efficient (accomplished quickly)?
- If users hit stumbling blocks or errors, are they deterred?
- Does the interaction “delight”?
A web usability study found that 46% of users will leave a website that lacks an effective message about what the company does and 37% would leave due to poor design or navigation.
While usability concerns whether a particular design is effective and satisfying for the user, UX accessibility asks if the same experience is universal to all users. Accessibility looks at equality of experience for users who may be using assistive devices or may have other disabilities. Web UX designers will consider colors and contrast, focus indicators, labeling practices, tags for screen readers and more.
Usefulness is often thought of as a combination of usability (ease of use) and utility (provides the right features). Usefulness can be determined by answering the following question: is this something you want or need? This level of value is often considered a cornerstone in UX design.
UX vs UI
What is the difference between user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)? After all, aren’t they both about the user? This is a common question, particularly because the terms are often used interchangeably.
UI, often known as interface design, is about the look of a website or product: the design, colors, placements, and fonts. The main goal of a good UI is typically to create an interface that is aesthetically pleasing.
UX, on the other hand, is about both function (how the site works) and experience. In order to create and maintain a good UX, the question always remains open: what does the user want and need?
Rather than thinking of UX and UI as opposing forces, it is easier to realize the intersection between the two. In some cases, either or both roles can be held by a designer, but UX often includes greater contributions from business analysts and QA professionals.
Why Is UX Design So Difficult?
At the core of UX is understanding users: their expectations, needs, and desires, and the path of their actions. And yet every user is different. You need to be able to identify common or high return needs and stumbling blocks and prioritize those based on importance (metrics are helpful!). Smart user experience design starts by distinguishing the problem and managing all ideas to tackle the problem:
UX designers need to create consistent, intuitive systems that nudge the user along the path to achieve their goals with as little friction as possible. It may sound easy, but it’s anything but.
Let’s take a look at the UX design skillset and UX design process to better understand why UX design is so difficult.
UX Design Requires a Unique Skillset
Companies are prioritizing design because of seismic shifts in the dynamics of value, experiences, and power that are making user experience (UX) matter more than ever. But many firms undermine their efforts because of their design immaturity, misperceptions, and talent shortages. – Forrester
Assuming that anyone can create good UX design is like saying someone would be a good cook because they like food. The UX design process requires many specialized talents:
- Business/user analysis (which requires both a business and psychology background)
- Information architecture
- Soft skills: empathy, communication, collaboration
- Industry-specific knowledge
Designing UX requires study, practice and understanding. Good UX designers never stop learning. They don’t just create what they personally want; they learn to understand the needs of a broader pool of users. Identifying needs and convincing others of those needs are essential skills in UX design, noting that the role is truly about more than just design.
As a designer, it is part of your role to persuade, to convince, to tell a convincing story that helps the rest of the team understand the pain the customer is feeling with your product and why it is so important to fix.
– Alastair Simpson
The Principles of Effective UX Design
No matter what UX design trends are industry leaders following, the key principles of effective UX design are as follows
Identify the user’s needs
The first goal of user research (UX research) is to develop an understanding of the user and their needs. Who are your target users? What are their user personas? What do you think your users want, and what data do you have about all of your research?
See how they respond to/interact with similar apps
Now that you have a hypothesis about what your users want, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Look to the marketplace and identify how your user personas are interacting with similar apps or websites. These kinds of profiles are known as user journeys.
Identify problem areas and missing features/options
Now that you have an idea of your user and their needs, it’s time to come up with your idea of how to meet those needs. This is your creation stage and it’s time to start creating, whether it’s through wireframes, mood boards, prototypes, or A/B test mock-ups.
Here we begin an iterative process of testing with your users, either in a test group or with live A/B tests. Ideally, testing is being done early in the actual design process, allowing you to test features or designs and incorporate feedback at regular intervals.
According to research, it only takes 5 users to find 85% of user experience problems during the testing phase.
Test and repeat
Prototyping lends itself to innovation, while also saving money in the long run. Every piece of feedback you get can be integrated and re-tested. This process repeats until you come up with a cohesive final design that delights and drives performance.
Good design doesn’t just happen — it’s prototyped. If all of this sounds a lot like Agile, you’d be right. Getting UX design right requires a customer-centric approach: to understand, iterate designs, test, and adapt.
Try to keep some consistency with common apps
Innovation is important, but not for the sake of innovation alone. One of the core hexagons in UX design is around usability, and that usability comes from familiarity. When a customer opens up a shopping app, they have expectations around functionality: how to search, the names of navigation menus, and the process of adding items to carts and checking out. Innovation in common apps such as this hold the potential to introduce friction instead of delight.
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UX Designs that Perform & Delight
At the start of this post, we talked about all the risks of not paying attention to UX in your product, application, or website design. Now let’s take a look at the potential returns from investing in UX:
- Every $1 invested in UX brings in $100 in return – an ROI of 9,900%
- 41% of organizations have increased sales with personalized UX
- Better UX design can yield conversion rates up to 400%
Human-centered user experience design is the silver bullet in creating an irresistible, inevitable interaction. At Net Solutions, we ensure your UX is your X-factor, helping you with every step of your user experience design journey.