In today’s digital business language, there’s one phrase you probably hear a lot: UX. Designers throw the term around regularly when building a website, updating an old site, or working on a new app. What does UX mean and how does it help you achieve your business goals?
UX stands for User Experience. When done right, it can be a powerful tool to help you convert and retain customers. Understanding how it can be implemented to maximum effect is an important part of any web development plan.
In this blog, we’re going to dive into what UX is and how it can be integrated in your project to help you succeed at converting customers.
First of all, what comprises UX?
UX Design Basics
UX design is the process of enhancing a user’s experience with a product or service by improving the usability, accessibility, and interactions the user has with it.
UX design is how you make a user’s experience with your website as streamlined as it can be, from the home page to the contact page or shopping cart. Once a user has become aware of a product they are potentially interested in, UX design makes the process of learning about it and purchasing it as easy and fun as possible.
Note: UX is not what you usually think of as “design.”
When people hear the term “UX design,” they might immediately think of graphic design; colors, animation, fonts, and visual themes come to mind. But UX design is not graphic design. It comes before graphic design and has more to do with how information and user interaction is organized on the site and less to do with what things visually look like.
How do UX designers achieve their goals?
UX design is carried out by researching who is visiting the site, how they are interacting, and what kind of problems they might encounter. This can be done through a variety of means:
- Interviews – UX designers set up interviews with users in order to gain in-depth knowledge about how they interact with the site and what they expect from their interactions. Often a user is invited to interact with an early prototype of a website and is then interviewed about their interaction.
- Creation of personas – UX designers create personas who match certain traits of the target audience. With data from real users, they segment the user base into different personas in order to observe interactions with different groups of users. This ensures that all users with different needs and different intentions can be accommodated and that their experience is pleasing to them.
- Online surveys – A greater number of users can be reached through online surveys that are sent to hundreds or even thousands of users in order to gain information about how they interact with a website or product. Through statistical analyses, we can draw even more sound conclusions about users’ experiences.
- Keyword (market) research – In order to connect the dots between a product and the users who could benefit from it, we do extensive keyword research. This means that we research what words and phrases people are using to find a product on Google and then we use those words on the website so that users get what they are looking for. Language is a key part of UX design.
The design process
After collecting data about who is looking for your product and how they are interacting with it, it’s time to apply what we’ve learned. UX design research can be collected at various stages of the development process in order to be implemented into the final site. Here’s how the data gets implemented:
- Information architecture – From the user research, we gain valuable insight about the expectations they have regarding site architecture. How should the information be organized? What should lead to what? What is the best way of seamlessly guiding people into their interaction? What questions need to be answered first?
- Wireframing – In wireframing, we make simple mock-ups of the website. This is when we decide where elements should be placed on the page or how the sections of the site should lead to each other in order to make the user’s interaction with the website or product as intuitive and enjoyable as possible.
- Prototyping – With some advanced tools at our disposal, we can make quick and interactive prototypes of the website or program to put in front of users. This enables us to test the website without a huge front-loaded investment of time, so that changes can be simple and fast.
UX design continues with the testing of beta-stage websites. The testing stage is where we see how the applied research can translate into gratifying experiences with a product or website. Testing can be done in two ways:
- On-site user testing - With on-site user testing, a small number of potential users are observed interacting with the product. While they are doing so, a special software can be used to track the mouse and eyes, and questions are asked during and after their interactions.
- Remote user testing – Sometimes users are in a different geographical location or it is simply not feasible to bring users to an office. In these cases, users can be tested from remote locations, using screen sharing or other software to gain insight from real users.
Through a process of research, implementation and testing, UX design provides measurable impact to development of websites and other products. Here are the positive outcomes you can expect from a quality UX design:
- Conversion – The main point of UX design is to increase conversions. The research we do is focused on making it easy and intuitive to get from the entry page to the point of purchase. UX done well has a huge impact on conversions.
- Customer retention – Customers who have pleasurable experiences with your site will be more likely to come back. If you can create a truly memorable experience with it, then you’ve got them for life.
- Singing your praises – Going the extra mile to make an interaction easy and enjoyable pays off when users are excited to share their experience with their friends. This is the stuff of viral businesses and brands that come out of nowhere.
There are as many different approaches to UX design as there are UX designers, but whenever UX design is executed and implemented well, it stands to give a business a huge boost.