For any business, it’s a fair assumption to say that an online presence is pretty important. Whether your website serves as a shop window for your services, you’ve got a subscription-based app, or your entire business is based on an online store, getting your digital product right is crucial.
However, what is ‘right’ can be open to interpretation, and many businesses fall foul of prioritizing design over the user experience. If this sounds like your business, you may have a digital presence which doesn’t serve its purpose – whether that’s encouraging sign-ups, warming leads or converting browsers into paying customers. At worst, by not addressing this issue, you are effectively leaving money on the table.
And that’s where putting user experience – or UX – first and foremost, is key.
So what is UX?
Often seen as a complex or technical subject, UX is simply about understanding how people feel when they interact with your product or experience. If you create easy-to-use products and enjoyable experiences, your UX is a success.
The discipline of UX runs across four main activities:
It sounds obvious, but research is something often overlooked by businesses. Understanding your users is key. Carrying out research to identify their wants, attitudes and frustrations will help to build up a picture of how best to design a website or online portal to meet their needs. Direct user research can be done through workshops, interviews or surveys.
Also, speaking to internal stakeholders is crucial. From management to customer–facing staff, getting them on board will ensure that the final design of the product helps to meet the business goals.
Additional sources of information that can feed into the research include competitor reviews and raw data such as Google Analytics.
The research will then reveal a number of insights, which will lead to outputs which inform decisions when designing your website or portal.
For example, the insights may reveal the different types of customers that your business caters to. For each customer type, there may be a specific journey they take online, that you will need to cater for with your digital product.
When a site is designed to be user-focused, it isn’t just the layout of the screen, the colours and images that are considered. It is about designing the entire experience.
Utilising the research and insights, UX will take into account:
- The structure of a site
- The terminology used
- The routes taken by the user to find specific information
- The calls to action (i.e. making a purchase)
- The clarity and relevance of the content
- The ease of use.
Along with research, this is an area which is often overlooked by businesses. It’s understandable that in a bid to get a website, app, intranet, or other digital product ready by a predetermined date, you neglect to gather feedback.
Also, with deadlines looming large, there may be little or no appetite to modify or change what is seen as a completed product.
However, this is a false economy, and can be more costly for your business in the long run. Feedback is crucial when creating a good user experience. Testing allows for improvements to be identified and made before, during and after the development of a website, app or online portal.
Testing can be done in an interview situation where users are given certain tasks to undertake under observation. Real-time, face to face feedback is preferable, so follow up questions can be asked. All this then feeds into improvements and helps create a product that can offer the best experience for the user, and best outcome for the business.
It’s not rocket science
So as you see, UX isn’t as complex and technical as it sounds, but it does take time, effort and investment. However, having seen many businesses reap the benefits of creating user focused products, we can say with confidence that the end results are worth it.
About the author: Matt Oxley is co- founder and Director of the award winning User Experience (UX) and digital agency DotLabel. Clients include Hendricks Gin, The Balvenie, Barclays, SDL and Anthony Nolan. The agency is proud to have been recognised with industry awards from Wirehive, The Drum, UXUK, and BIMA.
Matt comes from a creative design background with a passion for user-centred digital experiences. In his career, Matt has held the role of Creative Director at agencies Intercea and NetSitePro providing expert advice to household brand names such as GlaxoSmithKline, Kelloggs and McVities.
DotLabel delivers a range of UX-focused digital experiences including websites, apps, intranets and portals. Dedicated to a UX design approach, the team at DotLabel know that when you combine a company’s objectives with an understanding of the users’ goals, attitudes and frustrations, you can create digital experiences that get better results and drive real conversion, whether that be increased enquiries and sales, improved engagement or reduced calls to customer support.