Why positive user experience is essential
User Experience or UX, is a term popularised in the 1990s that describes the process of user-centred design. In the face of intense competition, particularly online, even the slightest positive lift in a user’s experience can help you to stay ahead of competitors. So how can you make the most of user experience in your business?
What is user experience?
User experience is often conflated with ‘usability’. A key method of distinguishing between the two is that user experience has a wider scope than usability. If a website is particularly ‘usable’, visitors will find it intuitive to navigate and interact with. A positive user experience encompasses additional factors such as the look and feel of a website. In short, a website can be straight forward to use, yet unengaging at the same time. That website would therefore have great usability, but a poor user experience.
Best-selling author and industry expert Peter Moreville outlines the definitive factors of a positive user experience through in the ‘user experience honeycomb’:
- Useful - Is your content is original and fulfilling a need?
- Usable - Is your site is easy to use?
- Desirable - Does your site’s design evoke emotion and appreciation?
- Findable - Is your content navigable and locatable both onsite and offsite?
- Accessible - Is your content accessible to people with disabilities?
- Credible - Do users trust and believe what you tell them?
As mentioned above, usability forms just one of these key areas for focus when considering user experience. If your website adheres to this checklist for success, the chances are you are providing a positive user experience to your audience.
User experience is more important than ever
The majority of today's consumers are savvy, short on time, and want their needs met in an instant. If your website is not offering a fast, effective service, most users will not spend very long on your site and may not return. In fact, this is proven by a survey conducted by Site Jet in 2019, which recorded that a staggering 90% of people have left a website for this reason. This demonstrates that user experience is a vital element of any business’s online presence.
Notable advocates for positive user experience
While user experience is a relatively new buzzword, it is a long-standing principle which has been recognised throughout recent history, shown in 1973 when IBM’s Thomas J. Watson remarked that ‘good design is good business’.
Here are a few more business advocates for positive user experience:
- Jeff Bezos reportedly invested 100 times more into user experience than advertising in the first year of Amazon.
- AirBnB’s Mike Gebbia has credited user experience testing and insight with taking the company to $10 billion.
- Tom Proulx, the co-founder of Intuit and pioneer of usability testing, emphasises the ease of use in his products.
With its positive impact clear to see, it’s a wonder why just 55% of brands are carrying out user experience testing.
Vital factors to consider Today
Load speed - As technology has progressed over the last couple decades, people have grown to expect faster load speeds. Your website’s user experience can decisively impact customer perception, particularly if the load speed is slow. In fact, Amazon discovered that a 100ms decrease in page load speed could even cost them the equivalent of 1% in sales.
Mobile compatibility - With 52% of users claiming that a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company, It is essential for your website to perform well on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. With many customers these days now interacting with businesses through the convenience of hand held devices, the optimisation of your site for use on mobiles should be a core consideration of your user experience. Especially when taking into consideration that 52% of people are less likely to engage with a company if confronted subjected to a negative mobile experience.
Accessibility - Making your content accessible to as many people as possible is a key component of Moreville's UX honeycomb and ensures maximum inclusivity for your site. This can be achieved by presenting information through multiple sensory channels including sound and sight, allowing for additional means of site interactivity beyond the norm of 'point and click'. Adopting a multisensory approach and a multi interactivity will allow disabled users access to the same information as everyone else, something which is increasingly expected across websites as these updates become more mainstream.
Visual Design - The visual design of a site encompasses the strategic implementation of images, videos, colours, fonts and other elements. A successful visual design will enhance the site and boost a company's competitive advantage by engaging users and helping to boost trust and interest in the brand. After taking user suggestions into account, ESPN conducted a full homepage redesign which resulted in a revenue increase of 35%. This demonstrates the profitability of listening to your community as well as the commercial rewards of having a visually pleasing and well thought-out website design.
How to record your user experience
When recording your website’s user experience, examine how users navigate around the content you provide. Use free tools such as Google Analytics to assess what content your visitors are engaging with when they are on your website, and how long they are spending on each page. If users are spending seconds on a page, this indicates that they have not found the content they are looking for, or that it is not suitable for their needs. Users must spend enough time on a page to understand the information it contains, although an excessive amount of time could also indicate confusing messaging or a mismatch with your chosen call to action.
A simpler method of gathering insight on your user experience would be to consult your customer service team, or individuals within your business who speak with customers every day. Often complaints or praise regarding website intuitiveness will filter through to those who deal with enquiries, bookings or orders within your organisation, particularly if users are unable to accomplish their goals through a digital platform. Any insight you can gain from internal sources will provide a basis for improvements moving forward. This provides a basis for customer research, either informally or formally, later on.
To summarise, positive user experience is a staple for any successful business. It plays a key role in how customers view your website, and your business as a whole. For many businesses, a website is your first point of contact, so the way your website functions and aligns with the user’s needs and expectations is paramount to its overall effectiveness.