Most business owners, after launching a website, think about how to get more pageviews. After all they want to bring more people to their website, with the intent of generating more leads and turning them into sales. I call these pageview-oriented businesses. But there are others, whose sole focus is relentlessly improving the User Experience as a key strategy to drive new business. This type of business fundamentally asks different questions and looks at different metrics and indicators as a way to measure success.
One obvious metric is the time that the user keeps engaged with the site but there are other more subtle dimensions that are hard to measure automatically e.g. “how is the user’s emotional connection with this brand?”
UX as a core focus
User Experience Design (UXD) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.
Thinking about online products – such as a website or a platform – some tend to think of UX as the visual design and the “how it looks” part. In fact that’s only one of the 5 dimensions that goes into UXD.
The visual design is often tacked by a discipline called User Interface (UI) design. When thinking about the UI of our product we think about things such as colours, typography, layouts, graphic design, etc. which will shape how the user will interact and how he will achieve the goals and tasks at hand.
UXD on the other hand, helps guide efforts across multiple touch points with the user, including:
– How they discover the business in the first place (before even considering buying anything from you);
– The sequence of actions the user takes as they interact with the User Interface and the thoughts and feelings that arise as they try to accomplish their task (as they experience the product/service);
– The impressions they take away from interacting with our company as a whole. The resulting opinion/emotion felt by the user (e.g. it’s fast/slow, intuitive/confusing, and/or makes the user feel happy/frustrated);
Improving the User Experience just for the sake of it doesn’t cut it, the business has to see specific results happening in order to invest. When working towards improving the User Experience the business can expect:
- Increased user satisfaction;
- Increased brand value;
- Faster Sales conversion;
- Increased Customer loyalty;
- Business Growth and enhancement;
Now how can a business have a great User Experience? The only principle that seems to apply to every company is that you need to know your customer and experiment directly with them.
We see this happen frequently, for example we know AirBnB, Facebook and many other companies are consistently, every day, running small experiments with their users in order to alleviate pain points in the journey of their users.
How to Measure Your Website’s UX
There are several “technical” ways to measure a website’s UX: tracking the amount of time users take to achieve a goal, analysing video recording and heat maps of user’s interactions, collecting user feedback, doing usability testing, etc. And the collection of tools available is long. So why is User Experience so often neglected in the development process of websites? Jesse James Garrett, in his book “The Element of User Experience” (2010) offers an interesting perspective:
“Many Web sites are built with the idea that being first to market is the key to success. In the earliest days of the Web, sites like Yahoo! built early leads that later competitors struggled to overcome. Established companies raced to set up Web sites, determined not to be perceived as falling behind the times. But in most cases, companies considered merely having deployed the site a great accomplishment; whether the site actually worked for people was, at best, an afterthought.”
Unfortunately we still see this happening in today’s market. Executives establish key outcomes as “new product landing page“ and “revamp current website” without considering relentlessly improving the User Experience as a key strategy to drive new business.
The design process is of paramount importance for both the end result and the development process. It starts with the design phase and continues throughout the project development. It is a process with several steps which need close collaboration to assure you are following the right path and will accomplish the main goals both in terms of design and UX.
A UX process for a website considers the following activities:
- User Flow Definition – Defines which paths the user must follow to accomplish the most important actions.
- Wireframes – These are the first sketches that will define the areas where the site content will be distributed. These sketches are usually devoid of color or visual elements, they are only structural.
- Low fidelity Mockup – Based on the conclusions drawn from wireframes, this step represents the first study of colors and visual elements to be used in the layout. This is a first approach to layout, which will help define the design line to follow.
- High fidelity Mockup (final design) – This will be the final version of the layout. All the visual elements to be used have been defined and will be a semi-functional model of the site, although only based on image. Several screens will be supplied, to illustrate the websites behaviour on different viewports.
And most importantly we must remember this process doesn’t end with the launch of the website. As a matter of fact that is where it starts. If you’re interested in more in depth information on how to run UX and Usability Testing I recommend reading “UX Optimization: Combining Behavioral UX and Usability Testing Data to Optimize Websites” (2018).
A new generation of businesses
Establishing your brand as a premium brand, offering a delightful experience to clients that is valued, appreciated and that generates referrals and word of mouth. Charging more. Turning the competition obsolete. All of this become possible once you “reboot” your business and establish User Experience as a core focus.
This may involve hiring premium suppliers and key partners to work along side your team. User Experience is a game changer and although it is something at the reach of every company this core focus is easier to establish when you’re a small-medium business rather than a large enterprise.
Once you start repositioning your brand, hiring the best suppliers, working relentlessly on improving the User Experience continuously it will push down your competition and elevate you to the top of your industry (and having other look up to your UX as a benchmark for the industry).
- A new generation of businesses can emerge by establishing User Experience as a core focus;
- You can turn your business around by focusing on User Experience;
- You can transform your business by focusing on User Experience
- You can render your competition obsolete by focusing on this one thing.
Every business must rethink their online presence, making it more dynamic, more social and mobile in order to capture the attention as well as the spending in this current crowded market. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a lot of experience working with businesses and a lot of advice to give on how to level up your website. If you are interested in seeing how you can improve, drop us a line and we’ll follow up.