Websites and Web applications have become progressively more complex as our industry’s technologies and methodologies advance. What used to be a one-way static medium has evolved into a very rich and interactive experience.
But regardless of how much has changed in the production process, a website’s success still hinges on just one thing: how users perceive it. “Does this website give me value? Is it easy to use? Is it pleasant to use?” These are the questions that run through the minds of visitors as they interact with our products, and they form the basis of their decisions on whether to become regular users.
What is User Experience?
User Experience (UX) is the holistic journey users traverse as they use a product. Not only does it include their direct interactions with the product, but also how it fits in with their overall task completion process.
Regardless of whether different aspects of the experience are under the direct control of the product or are merely associated with the product, the total experience is considered part of the UX from the user’s perspective. Every touchpoint between the customer and the company is included in the total User Experience.
Difference Between UI and UX
UI and UX are often used interchangeably, but when the acronyms are actually spelled out User Interface and User Experience are quite different.
The User Interface is literally what the user sees and interacts within the product: the buttons, the layout, the navigation, the form fields, etc. Much like the cockpit of a plane or the buttons on remote control, it is what a user sees, touches and clicks. “UI” can also sometimes be shorthand for the “look and feel” of a product.
User Experience encompasses a far wider swath of elements than the User Interface, although UI is definitely contained within this larger definition. The User Experience includes everything an end-user does related to the product, including how it fits into their overall workflow and the steps before and after the product is actually in use. Additionally, the User Experience covers how those interactions will change over time as the customer’s usage evolves and the product and company change.
What Does User Experience Include?
According to Semantic Studios, there are seven key factors to a solid user experience. This diagram is known as the User Experience Honeycomb.
This theory and diagram state that a website or piece of information online must be:
Useful: Does your website content and design fulfill a need? Do your customers find the information on your website to be useful?
Usable: In short, is your website simple to use? Is it intuitive?
Desirable: Does your website design appeal to your audience? Is it enticing to interact with? Does it grab a user’s attention?
Findable: Can users find the information they need easily? Can your website be found quickly on the Internet?
Accessible: Is your website accessible by all? Does it accommodate users with disabilities?
Credible: Is the information on your website truthful? Will users believe what they find on your website? It has been reported that judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall aesthetics.
Valuable: With all of these factors combined, does your website content, design, and functionality provide value for users?
Everything on your website, from the marketing copy to the URL structure, contributes to a user’s overall experience with your brand.
Why Should a Person Care About a Website’s User Experience?
Providing website visitors with a thorough and pleasant experience is of the utmost importance. Your brand reputation, customer loyalty, and sales are on the line if you fail to prioritize a website’s UX.
When you reach a website that is difficult to use or unappealing, what do you think about that brand? Not the nicest of thoughts, right?
Studies have shown that first impressions are 94% design-related. Plus, almost 60% of users say they will not recommend a business that has a badly designed mobile site. From the device your visitors use to access your website to the appearance of your website, the overall UX of your site can have a lasting effect on your brand’s online reputation. It is always in the best interest of your brand to provide a stellar experience for users visiting your website.
If your business is using a website to drive online sales, user experience needs to be your top priority. Why? For instance, slow-loading websites cost retailers $2.6 billion in lost sales each year.
A user’s experience with your website has a large effect on their decision to buy. 60% of users who do not make a purchase cite dissatisfaction, a lack of information, a slow connection, or a small screen as their reasons for not buying.
Take a look at the conversion rate for your website. Is it where you’d like it to be? If not, the reason could be a failed website design or UX.
Did you know 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company? Have you also heard that 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site? Why should customers stay on your website if it is not optimized for the information they need or does not function properly? If your brand is struggling to retain and generate repeat customers, consider improving the UX of your website.
Here are Tips for Improving Your Website’s User Experience
Use Headings to Your Advantage
On top of a sensible site structure, properly implemented headings can also aid a visitor in locating the information they need.
User Testing is Imperative
The best way to determine whether or not your website meets the seven facets of user experience is through user testing. While some user tests require a full team, expansive budget, and controlled facilities, there are numerous tools available online to deliver the results you need.
Have an Authentic Website Design
Returning to Nielsen-Norman Group’s definition of user experience, your website is part of a potential customer’s overall experience with your brand. Meaning, if your website has a stale appearance, users take notice. Whether you’re using outdated website design trends or doing far too much at once, it will detract from the complete brand experience. If your company has a brand standards guide, be sure your website design follows those guidelines.
Review Your Site Flow
Look at the structure of your site, also known as a sitemap. Is it easy for website visitors to find information in a logical manner?
Remember, as one of the key factors of proper UX, users need to be able to find information they want easily on your website. If it takes several illogical steps to access pertinent information, it is time to rethink the structure and flow of your site.
When restructuring your website, rely on a user testing tool to help you understand what site path is considered simple and complex for your audience.
Ask Customers How You Can Improve
It never hurts to ask, right? After a purchase, send your customers a follow-up email asking about their ability to navigate and interact with your website. Be sure to ask specific questions rather than vague, open-ended questions, which could lead to undesirable responses.
In addition, you can also ask customers about their experience while they are on your site. Although pop-ups tend to be a widely used tactic for these surveys, in-website chat boxes are the most appealing as they do not intrude on the user’s activity on your site.
By now, you must have understood everything about user experience design. User Experience refers to the feeling users experience when using a product, application, system, or service. It is a broad term that can cover anything from how well the user can navigate the product, how easy it is to use, how relevant the content displayed is etc.