How we experience the world is important to all of us – if we have a good experience at a restaurant, we’re more likely to go back. If we get lost in a store due to a complicated layout, we might not. If we love the design of a water bottle but it’s hard to open, chances are we won’t recommend it, and if an online store has an easy check-out process we might just tell our friends about it. How we engage with the world and perceive that experience shapes our future behaviors. This interaction is “user experience” or UX.
Maybe you’ve put some thought into what attracts you to a company or what, as a business owner, hooks your customers in. But have you considered that this experience has been designed for you through thoughtful planning, market research, and customer involvement? Business owners are taking notice and starting to invest in curating the perfect UX for their customers and clients.
What is UX/User Experience?
UX, or user experience, is all the aspects that shape your experience while interacting with a company, its services, its website, and its products. It encompasses emotions and attitude as well as practical and functional aspects of the experience, whether that be the color palate of a website or the ease in which the billing process occurred. When we break it down, UX is pretty much everything that affect’s a user’s interaction with a business, online and in-person, and how they feel about it afterward.
Although UX is important for any business, it’s especially important to the online world. Focusing on the user experience through a functioning website, good web design, and modern graphic design can take your business from ok to awesome! A website is often your customer’s first interaction with you and in some cases their only interaction, you want to make sure the experience is excellent from start to finish.
Carefully applied UX design and smart website planning will increase customer conversions and set you up for success.
What is UX Design?
Although user experience should be visually appealing, more importantly, it has to be functional! UXD or “user experience design” is the process of designing physical or digital products that look great, are easy to interact with, and get the job done. The key to UXD is functionality, how it looks is important, but how it works is everything. User experience designers help fill the space between how something appears and how it actually works, ensuring products are just as beautiful as they are useful.
- It creates solutions
- It relies on emotions and feelings of the user
- It changes based on the context, company, product, and needs of the consumer
- It evolves with trends
- It’s useful, usable, and accessible
- It entails both appearance and function
How to Use UX to your Advantage
UX has been around for a long time, but lately, it has gained a lot of attention owing to how beneficial it is for businesses, especially online businesses.
Share the right information in the right way.
You want to focus on providing solutions and meeting the needs of your users. For example, if you have an online store you’ll want to include a quick-view option so customers can quickly answer the question of “how would this look on me?”, without losing their browsing spot.
Focus on your website.
Your online presence sets the tone for UX. Focus on web design, layout, and removing unnecessary clutter. Some of the best web design and UX is simple. You want to make sure all links are functional and there are no dead-ends. By providing good design and flow you ensure that your customers can easily access valuable content, which is why they came to you in the first place!
Use a “give first, take later” model.
This means providing value to your customers before asking them to give their credentials, create a log-in, or sign up for a newsletter. Much like in-person shopping, no one wants to feel bombarded by a salesperson or pressured into a purchase. If a customer feels unwanted pressure, they might report a bad user experience and not give you their business. A good example of the “give first, take later” approach is websites that allow customers to make purchases as a guest. This streamlines their experience, meets their needs quickly, and helps solidify repeat business through a positive UX.
Use visuals to support UX.
Because UX focuses on both appearance and function, it’s important to use images and pictures appropriately. Most users respond better to icons than words. Great examples of these are the heart “like” button on Instagram, the floppy-disk “save” icon, or the shopping cart for online shopping. These are widely recognized symbols and they meet all the criteria for great UX – they are simple designs that serve a purpose.
Explore easy hacks to keep your customers coming back.
Easy hacks such as, multiple links to your contact page, providing a save option, or allowing users to share directly to social media are all great ways to boost user experience and keep your customers engaged.
Why Should you Care About UX?
For the same reason you should care about marketing, sales, and every other part of your business – UX makes your business better, more profitable, and more successful! User experience is so important when it comes to fulfilling your customer’s needs. Imagine walking into a seemingly beautiful restaurant, only to discover all the tables are slanted and all the chairs are wobbly; what looks good also has to work to create the best UX. The online world is the same, a website may look nice, or have all the right information, but if it’s not functional or easy to access, the user will leave. You don’t want the user to leave, you want them to stay on your website, find value, and ultimately give you their business.
Ways to Boost UX
Take time to engage with your key demographic.
Ask your clients and customers for feedback.
Hire out professionally.
By hiring a web design agency that specializes in UX and UXD you ensure that your website will look great and function seamlessly.
Check out the competition.
Check to see what others are doing, drawing inspiration from those in your field is a great way to stay relevant, and maximize UX.
Be open to change!
We can all be a little guilty of thinking our way is the best way but sometimes improvements can be made. All good things require a tune-up from time to time. Don’t hesitate to upgrade your website and focus on design and UX, this will increase customer conversions and customer satisfaction.
Vancouver’s web design scene is a powerful example of great UX, offering some of the best websites – it’s innovative and unique, and a great starting point to begin drawing inspiration for your own business.