For the longest time, User Experience has been interpreted as a design term and one that only designers should be paying attention to. It is often misinterpreted that the experience of the user is only defined by the visual aspect of your product or service.
Here, Realm Digital’s Head of Consulting, Nick Foster unpacks what exactly User Experience is, why it’s important, and how to ensure your business is leveraging all it can from a clearly defined user experience.
What exactly is User Experience?
UX or User Experience is a way to describe how users feel or experience using your products and services. It is typically related to the entire customer journey – the end to end process of buying – from advertising through to making a purchase, through to delivery.
A lot of people refer to UX in the context of technology. Whilst critical, a good User Experience needs to cover more than just the technology. A great digital application, enabling a quick decision and quick purchase can still lead to a poor user experience if products cannot be delivered.
User Experience goes beyond number of sales – it is how a user feels about you and your brand, and what triggers them to say something positive or negative to their friends, or on social media.
While the design is a critical component in facilitating that User Experience, there are many moving parts. From a Strategist who needs to find out exactly what a user needs, to a Copywriter who needs to write clear and easy to understand error messages.
What about a Software Developer who needs to write clean, accessible code so that every user can access your product, and the Marketer who needs to drive demand and acquire users?
UX is looking at the customer journey in its entirety and considering every step of that journey.
Why is UX important?
In order to deliver an optimal User Experience, we need to engage with our customers to understand what they need, prior to the design process. Too often though, this doesn’t happen. We see organisations rely on internal staff to design apps, without ever engaging with customers.
Even those that do engage customers at the start, do not have a solid check-back process in place, and this can result in the app evolving over time, while the customer is left behind.
The reality is, many customer-facing applications and processes have not fully understood the customer, leading to a User Experience that is sub-optimal, sometimes downright irritating to customers.
Getting it right or wrong can be the difference between achieving sales or dropping leads; having loyal customers or irritated ones; leading the market, or being behind the market leader.
How do you improve it?
Firstly, new applications and experiences should be designed optimally. At Realm, we work with our clients, and their customers, to design journeys, and then build effective software and processes to help deliver an awesome User Experience.
What we also see is a lot of existing applications and journeys being sub-optimal – either because they were not designed effectively, or because the focus on the customer has been lost over years of tweaks and enhancements. Organisations know that there is something wrong but can’t put their finger on it.
This is where Realm UX labs come in, and where we test the User Experience in three ways.
Data and analytics
We use analytics, plugging in software like Google Analytics or Hotjar which allows us to determine where users are clicking, where they are scrolling, what pages they visit, and crucially, how far they complete a journey, including where they drop off.
It gives us wide insight against a full population of users and allows us to pinpoint where an issue is occurring in a journey. However, it doesn’t tell us the why necessarily. There is no two-way dialogue with users just using analytics, and it can’t inform why a user is dropping off without further testing.
Experienced UX Consultants
We have a team of experienced UX consultants who have worked across multiple industries addressing UX issues, particularly as they relate to digital.
Adept at picking up issues that others have run up against previously, there are a number of simple improvements that can be made to a journey. Through a process of empathy-based user testing, we define personas, recruit actual people that align to these, and test applications and journeys with these people across several dimensions.
Real-time User Experience
We record and observe the users whilst they are using the application. This allows us to move beyond what a user has to say about the application; it allows us to observe how they are feeling and their emotions. It allows for dialogue into what is working and crucially what isn’t.
We do this in order to understand the full user base, not just who is using the application in question currently, but also those that an organisation aspires to reach. Defining personas, or perhaps simply user types, allows us to build up a user base, from which we can pull future test users.
When we combine these three aspects of testing, it enables us to identify extensive and major improvements to the User Experience within the technology and user interface, but also with supporting business processes.
Ultimately, it enables our clients to engage more effectively with their customers, enabling them to achieve their objectives, such as increased revenue or market share.
If you’d like to unpack how your user experience is faring, and where there is room for improvement, contact Realm Digital today. One of our experienced UX Consultants is ready to start the journey with you.