In order to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving online world, businesses need to adopt new technologies and methodologies swiftly. One such recent advancement is the increased focus on user experience (UX) design out of traditional UI (user interface) design. UX design can spell a website’s success or failure, so it is essential that companies learn what good UX is, how to incorporate it, and what its benefits are.
Some of the most successful and popular companies have already begun to adopt UX design into their digital presence. Companies that wish to remain competitive need to follow suit quickly, lest they lose too much business and end up unable to recover.
User experience design is not a wholly new concept to the world of business. Mapping the user experience as they move through interactions with a company has long been a part of businesses’ attempts to improve themselves. Applying that concept to customers’ digital movements is a more recent innovation, however.
UX design incorporates elements of user interface design, customer journey mapping, and webpage design (or software design, as UX is not purely for websites). Someone who is designing the UX needs to research and understand how customers are interacting with a website. They will use that information to make site changes that will hopefully improve the user’s experience.
UX designers may improve UX in a wide variety of ways. They may change interface elements, page layouts, fonts, and more to improve usability. They may find areas with a lot of customer complaints and change them accordingly. Resolving link errors, redesigning pages to present information more effectively, incorporating graphics to improve customer interest – all these things and more can fall under UX design.
Recognizing the Benefits
Businesses are rapidly exploring the benefits of UX, and they are already recognizing the potential for significant return on investment from UX research and development. You should not even slightly underestimate a great UX’s ability to influence customers.
UX design can vastly increase a website’s usability, which is a key factor in retaining, converting, and satisfying customers. A website with low usability is not going to see much happy customer interaction. Proper UX design can help businesses avoid the following errors that decrease their websites’ usability:
- Focusing on looks over functionality: An aesthetically pleasing website is a good thing, but a functional website is a necessity. Customers will still come to a website that is plain but usable. Conversely, they will avoid a site that is pretty but does not work correctly.
- Failing to consider legibility: Customers read websites in a specific pattern, and failure to incorporate that pattern into a page’s layout lowers its usability. Font choices also affect legibility, as well as link placements, targeting, and grammar usage.
- Having confusing layouts or links: A good website directs customers to where they want to be. Having too many options on screen at one time is confusing, as are links that seem like they should go to one page but lead to something different.
- Not being able to handle traffic: Internet users have notoriously short attention spans, so if a website is loading slowly due to inability to handle heavy traffic, users will go elsewhere.
- Placing ads at bad places or times: Ads are a necessity, but you need to handle them correctly. Inundating customers with pop-up ads or distracting them from key information are UX mistakes.
- Running an unstable site: Users want working websites – websites they can trust to function correctly any time they come back. Too many errors will damage customers’ trust and they will be less likely to use the website.
- Not catering for different browsers and devices: People have a lot of options with regards to web browsers. A website that does not work well on the one being used by a particular site user will automatically be excluding them and preventing them from potentially becoming a customer. Websites also need to be compatible with mobile devices to ensure a great UX.
UX design can have a major impact on the customer support division of a business. Malfunctioning interface elements, 404 errors, broken or incorrect links, erroneous information, and many other hiccups can create the need for customer support. A UX designer can reduce the need for support by correcting website errors, correcting bad information, directing users to other areas of a website, and other ways. When a business needs less customer support, they can save costs by reducing their customer service division. Hence, this is one way good UX can reduce operating costs.
Well-designed experiences help direct customers through a website efficiently. Using proper layouts, good linking strategies and pertinent information, a UX designer can reduce the amount of time between a customer’s first interaction with a website and the point of sale. Alternatively, a UX designer can also create pages in such a way as to increase the amount of time users spend on them. This can lead to greater ad revenue and improved information retention.
Customers visit a website for a reason. They want information, a product, or a service. A website that fails to give customers what they want will not see much interaction. User experience research strives to understand why customers come to a site, and user experience design tries to give the customers what they need.
By its nature, UX design focuses on the customers. It revolves around understanding them – their motivations, desires, emotions, goals, and their actions. Beyond creating an effective website, UX research can improve a company’s understanding of their users in all areas. A focus on UX can turn into a company-wide shift to a client-focused perspective.
Websites are incredibly commonplace, but people are no less suspicious of them now than they were at their first introduction. Getting users to trust a website is essential to that website’s success. Understanding user experience on a website can greatly assist with building customer trust. Bugs, mislabeled links, bad language choices, and many other things can negatively impact trustworthiness on a website. A UX designer can find and change these problems to increase the trust visitors have in a website, making them more likely to interact with it.
UX is a Necessity
With more companies learning about the benefits of UX design, and its best practices becoming better understood, having a UX designer or team for a website is now a must-have. Businesses that fail to adopt UX into their digital presence are going to find themselves losing customers to competitors with more usable and more trustworthy websites.
Thankfully, UX designers are becoming more common than they have been in recent years. More people who previously only knew and understood specific aspects of website design have expanded their horizons into other areas and grown capable of handling UX design. Businesses are also learning how to construct teams or divisions focused solely on UX research and development. These teams can produce sweeping changes in a company’s digital presence with large returns on investment.
Even smaller companies should soon be able to hire UX designers or train some of their existing staff to fill these roles. This will allow them to stay competitive in the digital world, at least with regards to UX benefits. They will be able to avoid common mistakes, lower their support needs, increase customer trust, improve website layouts and much more.
(Lead image source: vanmarciano – Creative Commons)