User experience, often referred to as UX within the industry, can be defined in its broadest sense as all of the emotions and feelings you have when you interact with literally anything or anyone in the world. Most people think of it in terms of using technological devices like their smartphones, tablets or websites but in truth, we all have hundreds to thousands of user experiences every day without even realising it. Something as simple as turning a doorknob or opening a soft drink creates a user experience for you. If you don’t consider these emotional encounters think back to the last time you were in a hurry and the door was locked when you pulled on it or your car keys weren’t where you thought they were. Did you feel frustrated? Those would be poor UX interactions.
Many people confuse UX with the term usability and while that is a factor when we are discussing web design and development, it is only a small part of the picture. The ISO definition of user experience is “concerned with all aspects of the user’s experience when interacting with the product, service, environment or facility”.
As you can see this is a very broad definition. There are many factors that go into UX beyond just the ease with which a website can be used. Or when you are trying to develop a site with the proper look and feel to create the desired brand perception and/or drive conversions. Just a few of these would include:
- Content Strategy
- Information Architecture
- Interaction Design
- User Interface (UI)
- Visual Design
- Marketing Goals
- Why you should care about UX
In today’s marketplace, your web presence is the most important representation of your business if you are to be competitive in any market. Research has shown that 81 percent of people now check products and stores on the internet before shopping. These numbers hold true whether they intend to buy in a brick and mortar store or do business online. It has also found that you have just under eight seconds to grab their attention and stop them from hitting the back button and looking elsewhere.
The simple truth that their user experience while on your site, will play a major role in them deciding not only if they will do business with you but whether they will come back a second time, or look elsewhere.
If you are going to build and maintain a customer base then you only have the one chance to make an impression, convey your message and develop the perception that you want people to have about your brand. If people don’t have a good experience while visiting your website, have a hard time navigating or just don’t like its look, the odds are they won’t be back. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So, you better make it count!
How to create a fantastic user experience
How do you create user experiences that keeps people coming back to your site? That is the $64,000 question and there is no on size fits all simple answer.
Look and Feel
There is both art and science to creating a website with a feel and look that will grab people’s attention and makes them feel welcome or excited to visit your site. Remember those all-important first eight seconds.
There has been mounds of research done showing how colors and design features affect people’s perceptions of a website or company. As an example, blue builds trust while red creates a sense of excitement. There is a reason IBM chose to be ‘Big Blue’ and Virgin has that big red V. It is all part of their carefully thought out branding strategies. So if you are a local, what should web design in Brisbane look like, how should you represent your organisation.
It is of major importance that you have someone on your design team that has an understanding of how these subliminal triggers can be best turned to your advantage while still creating an aesthetically pleasing site.
All of the above helps build your brand perception on a superficial level but to really tell people who you are takes a lot of thought. Not just about what impression you are trying to create but about who your targeted audience will be. Your content and design have to speak to them; not you. This is an area that many companies fail in. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers.
Just as food for thought, if you are a startup trying to sell SAAS to restaurant owners and managers then you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and talk to them about their world, in their terms. That will create the impression that you understand their pains and troubles. A lot of technical jargon that may be common language to you, will be lost on them and won’t help your conversion rate at all.
Create or have content created that will address your audience and build the impression of the perception that you want them to have of you. Literally think of every element on your page as part of a conversation that you are having with a potential client or customer, because that what it is.
Ease of Navigation
Always remember that people are coming to your website for a reason, so make whatever mission they are on as easy for them as you can. Jumping through hoops is a neat trick for fun entertaining recreational games but visitors to your website aren’t going to do it. They will just click the back button and move on to the next site.
Make sure your headings and category lists are easy to see and understand. Place your search features where people won’t have to search for them and as much as possible keep the needed number of clicks to get anywhere on your site to a minimum.
Site navigation is one of the most common reasons internet user give for bouncing from sites.
Walk in Your Client’s Shoes
One last bit of advice. Take time to walk in your client’s shoes. Visit your website and those of your competitors as if you were your target audience. See what works and what doesn’t. Make an honest comparison between your pages and theirs. If they are doing something better than you don’t be afraid to adapt it. Regardless of your niche, the internet is the most competitive market place that has ever existed, you need to use whatever tools you can find to gain an edge.
Creating a total user experience that draws people in, creates the proper feel to make them receptive to your message, tells them who you are and then converts lookers into clients and customers requires an artist’s heart melded with a technician’s skills. Many times, it takes a great deal of research and a fair amount of testing to get just right.
The wonderful thing though is that when you find that magical mix that meets your audience’s needs, builds their confidence in you and makes your business grow it will keep working and helping you build your business for a very long time. At least till someone does it better.