The United States HealthCare.gov website that was launched with great fanfare in October 2013 highlighted the importance of user experience rather well. While the website seemed to operate normally at first, it soon began experiencing different technical glitches. Estimates suggest that a week after the launch as little as one percent of the people interested in enrolling were successful.
A high unexpected volume of traffic was blamed initially. However, the White House soon released a statement saying the problems had to do with systems and software design. An example of what visitors to the website encountered was a broken intermittently working drop-down menu. In its early days, the website had poor user experience written all over and received considerable flak in the media.
What Is User Experience?
User experience (UX) basically refers to how consumers feel when they interact with digital offerings, be it a website, an app, or even a game. While web designers and developers have the know-how to control some aspects, some are environmental, and some others depend solely on user preferences. Some of the aspects that have a bearing on user experience include, but do not limit to:
- Human Interaction
Why UX is important for business is because it takes into account different aspects of how a consumer interacts with your website, which includes perception, behavior, actions, and satisfaction.
User experience should not be confused with usability. While usability plays a crucial role in UX, it limits to the user-friendliness and effectiveness of a website’s design. User experience, on the other hand, touches upon connections, emotions, experiences, and even intuition that consumers feel when interacting with a product, a service, or a website.
Improving user experience does not have to limit to websites and digital offerings. The process may be used successfully to benefit just about any kind of business. In essence, user experience touches upon these facets:
- The product or service you wish to sell.
- Who is your consumer?
- Why should a consumer use your offering?
- How will a consumer use your offering?
- When might a consumer use your offering?
- Where might a consumer be most likely to use your offering?
Importance of User Experience in Web Design
If you are wondering why user experience matters when it comes to creating a good website, take these statistics into consideration.
- More than 35% people get annoyed and leave websites because of poor design or navigation.
- Over 30% people leave websites because of videos or audios that load automatically.
- More than 75% digital agencies feel that their clients’ websites suffer because of poor user experience.
- Close to 40% people stop engaging with websites because of slow loading images, or ones that don’t load at all.
- Around 38% people do not engage with websites that provide unattractive content or layout.
The importance of UX for people who view websites on mobile devices is clear too. One study suggests that the biggest pain point for mobile shoppers is when to they have to enlarge the content to click on a button or a link. Other negatives that the report mentions include slow loading times, poor product discoverability, very small text, and the absence of smart searches.
Making the Case for User Experience
There is no denying the importance of user experience in web design, given the number of benefits the process has to offer. The advantages that come with improving user experience give businesses and other kinds of organizations the means the reach out to their desired target audience is the most effective possible manner. Paying attention to improving user experience can help you in the following aspects.
Determining Your Goals
Discovery is an integral part of improving the user experience. This is why a good design agency would take time to interview the main stakeholders, getting all the valuable insight they can get about the project. This might include interacting with heads of various departments such as sales, marketing, and operations. Getting different perspectives gives UX designers more to go with, and they work in formulating plans in accordance.
Goals might differ when it comes with different departments, although they may overlap as well. The goals then have a direct relation with the website’s structure, the content that goes on it, as well as the target audience.
Understanding Your Target Audience
After you know what your goals are, you get to focus your efforts on your target audience. This involves carrying out research and creating personas. Creating multiple personas with different personalities, traits, needs, and backgrounds gives you the ability to break your target audience down into segments. You then need to determine what steps to take so they receive the best possible user experience. What follows is their engagement with the website, converting leads into sales.
Providing Relevant Content
When users visit your website and don’t find the information they are looking for, they are bound to look for it elsewhere. Once you know your goal and understand your target audience, determining what people want from you becomes considerably easy. This gives you an easy way to provide content that is relevant as well as useful.
Providing content through a website requires that you address two important aspects – tone and voice. Do you want to appear professional? Is your website more fun-oriented? Do you want your readers to look at you as an authority figure in the field? How you put your content across has a direct impact on your branding, and, as a result, on people’s experience with your brand.
In a world where attentions spans are on the decline, it is important that you provide content in as concise a manner as possible. Your aim should be to grab people’s attention, engage them quickly, and give them the information they are looking for in the format they desire. Content, after all, no longer limits to text, and includes pictures, infographics, audios, and videos.
Enhancing Site Usability
Your website should be easy to use and navigate; failing which users will probably leave in quick time. When web designers focus on proving a good user experience, they make sure that the information people are looking for is easy to find. They provide options which aids users’ decision making when they have to take any kind of an action. However, given the importance of user experience in web design and the complexities involved in organizing content and data, the process is best left to a proficient UX designer.
Attracting International Audiences
Another benefit of focusing on user experience is that you get to target a much wider audience. If you feel your offerings might attract a global audience, a multilingual website can work rather well in enhancing user experience. The result would be reduced bounce rates and increased conversions.
This benefit even holds true if you provide services to a specific area. Consider this – you provide carpet cleaning services in New York City. Someone who lives in the UK and has a home in New York finds your website online and decides to use your services. With the internet shrinking the world as we know it, there is no telling just where some prospective customers might be.
Making a Mark
Several businesses across sectors still depend on websites that score poorly when it comes to user experience. By taking charge and giving your target audience the experiences they are looking for, you get the ability to stand apart from your competition. For instance, a common problem with e-commerce websites that you can do away with is having users to zoom-in or double-click on products to view images.
Saving and Making Money
If you are wondering about the monetary aspect of improving user experience, it actually works in your favor. When done in the right way, your efforts can have a long-term positive effect. Then, instead of moving from one expensive design to the next, you can focus on making ongoing improvements by learning from how your website performs.
By providing your target audience a good user experience along with the products, services, or information that you have to offer, you increase the likelihood of turning them into paying customers. With existing customers, your efforts may lead to retaining them, and you might also be able to use them as brand influencers.
Creating a Website That Delivers Great User Experience
Now that you know why UX matters, it might be worth your while to understand how to create a great user experience. Fortunately, the process is not as hard as one might imagine, with a little planning going a long way. Start by understanding that creating a good user experience is not just about how your website looks. For instance, the visual elements of your website need to follow some type of hierarchy.
Follow a Structure
Try not to branch out too much and stick to your core area of expertise. Do not experiment with your website’s layout often. When posting content on your blog, make sure it is easy to understand, with minimal use of jargon. Content that is outdated or irrelevant often ends up annoying people, even loyal customers.
Think Mobile Responsive
An increasing number of people are turning to their mobile devices to shop, look for information, and use different social media platforms. According to Google, negative user experiences on mobile devices can reduce the possibility of someone’s making a purchase by over 60%. When you have a responsive website, the device used to view it automatically adjusts how it is displayed, making for a good user experience.
Carry out user surveys to get insight into what your target audience feels might work as the most effective design. Since user experience is largely subjective, interacting with and studying your target demographic can provide valuable information. Asking simple questions such as how they feel when they use your website, what makes them decide about making a purchase, aspects they find confusing, and the kind of language that appeals to them can give you a pool of constructive feedback.
Use Personas Effectively
Once you develop one or more personas, you have some understanding of your website’s target audience. Creating one requires that you delve into all kinds of customer data you have along with your website’s analytics. Conducting interviews with existing and prospective customers is always a good idea. The personas you create can then replicate traits that are similar to those of your target audience.
When creating a persona, pay attention to common traits that include demographics, personality, motivations, as well as any other information that might offer insight into your customers’ behaviors. Developing personas does not happen overnight and you have to remain persistent in your efforts. Besides, they may evolve over time.
Use Tools to Observe User Experience
Once you understand the importance of UX, you may use tools such as Hotjar and FullStory to observe and analyze user experience on your website. These resources give you the ability to monitor and assess user activity on regular and mobile websites alike. They give you insight into aspects such as the pages they visit, how much time they spend on any given page, the videos they watch, and how they navigate through the website until they perform the desired action (make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, submit a form, or make a donation).
There is no disputing the importance of user experience in web design, given that people now turn online in various scenarios. They might turn to the internet to make a purchase, to check reviews of products or services they would rather buy through brick-and-mortar establishments, or simply to look for some information.
No matter what the scenario, if people are not happy with their online user experience, they are bound to look for alternatives. If they, on the other hand, have a favorable experience, the likelihood of their becoming or remaining your customers increases manifold. Fortunately, working with a good team of UX designers and developers ensures that your target audience is not left wanting for a better user experience.