There is a huge emphasis nowadays on the user experience of a website. The success of a website is largely dictated by how much trust is felt by the user, and in the context of website, trust is proven by use.
What is User Experience?
User experience is something that can relate to any kind of product imaginable. For the sake of this blog article though, I’m gonna keep it to digital (in particular, Websites) UX.
“User experience (UX) is about how a person feels about using a system. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI) and product ownership, but it also covers a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature, because it is about an individual’s performance, feelings and thoughts about the system. User experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change” – Wikipedia
Another good definition on that list is number 22:
“The user experience is the totality of end-users’ perceptions as they interact with a product or service. These perceptions include effectiveness (how good is the result?), efficiency (how fast or cheap is it?), emotional satisfaction (how good does it feel?), and the quality of the relationship with the entity that created the product or service (what expectations does it create for subsequent interactions?)” – Kuniavsky (2010)
To sum it up, User Experience is a holistic view of how ‘successful’ a product is at it’s giving a user the desired experience. I know that is very open to interpretation, but that is precisely the point. UX is seemingly vague because it’s an extremely broad topic.
How does a business benefit from having a website with a great User Experience?
1. Increased Conversion & ROI
A big part of a successful user experience is guiding the user around a website in the most intuitive way. This allows them to effortlessly find the information they are looking for, and glide through the conversion path. Having an in-efficient user flow will attract user drop-off at various conversion points along the way, so make sure your UX design get the person from Landing to Goal Conversion in the most efficient way.
2. Increased Efficiency & Lower Cost of Customer Support
When a user of an E-commerce website or SaaS Application can find all the information and resources they need, in an efficient, intuitive way, it reduces human touch points with the customer, whether for sales or support. This reduces operating costs and customer service clutter.
3. Improved Customer Experience
It should not be underestimated how much a customer’s user experience when browsing a website can affect their overall impression of the business itself, and the products and services it offers. Once a user feels ease of navigation, trust, reliability, the more they feel inclined towards your brand. At the end of the day, the most successful brands are successful because of the ay they make people feel, and that experience needs to be felt throughout the customer journey.
4. Increased Search Engine Traffic
Let’s have a look again at Google’s primary objective:
“Google’s goal is to provide the best results possible to your query” Townsquare Interactive
But how do you measure what is the best possible result? The main high-level elements that Google uses for judging the quality of a search result are; Relevance and User Experience.
Make sure your website has a great UX design, and you will see a good increase in SEO rankings. Here are some good places to start:
- Make sure that the website is fully responsive for all device types
- Place internal links throughout the website, so that the user can easily navigate and find more information
- Be strategic with the placement of your CTAs (Calls-to-action), Headings, Imagery, etc..
- Maintain fast page-loading speed
- Create a user-flow that is user-centric, not company-centric. This involves user testing, and taking onboard feedback from customers.
How do you judge User Experience?
Image Source: central
A good resource to check out, which outlines how to measure success is 7 Factors that Influence User Experience by Interaction Design Foundation.
In that article they have identified that the factors whereby you can judge a User Experience are:
The usefulness of a product is of course subjective. Its an intrinsic value given by the user, and of course what insignificant to some, is important to others. What’s important is that the product is deemed as useful by the target persona.
This is also a key attribute in a successful digital product, and is one which is often ignored by graphic designers claiming to be web designers. They are often trying to push the visual and interactive boundaries so much that a digital product becomes difficult and frustrating to use. Even to the most basic level.
This refers not only to the ease of finding the product itself, but also the ability to find information and content within the product. The structure that the content follows is paramount to the user’s satisfaction when using the product.
At the beginning of this article we mentioned the word trust in relation to digital products. The user’s trust that a product earns is one of the key factors in determining UX success. If the user feels that there is something ‘not quite right’ about it, there is an issue with the experience.
This mainly comes down to how the brand is perceived by people, and how the brand, and it’s products, connect with the user on an emotional level. Apple is a great example here. Sure, there hardware is great, and the computers are reliable, but you can still get high-performing PCs at the same price point as an off-the-shelf mac. So what makes Apple so special that people find the brand so desirable? Is it the way that the products look aesthetically? Is it how the brand makes them feel? Is it how it makes the person look in front of others when they own one of the product? I would say it is a mix of all of the above in most cases.
There is an increasing demand nowadays for websites that have accessibility features. Users with disabilities are thought to be a minority by many people, therefore website owners often question the ROI of investing in an accessible website. However an article by Interactive Accessibility contains statistics about website accessibility requirements of internet users in the U.S.
- 19.9 million (8.2%) have difficulty lifting or grasping. This could, for example impact their use of a mouse or keyboard.
- 15.2 million (6.3%) have a cognitive, mental, or emotional impairment.
- 8.1 million (3.3%) have a vision impairment. These people might rely on a screen magnifier or a screen reader, or might have a form of color blindness.
- 7.6 million (3.1%) have a hearing impairment. They might rely on transcripts and/or captions for audio and video media.
How much value your product delivers to the user really is the ‘achilles heel’ of how successful the User Experience is. The people that use your website, or web application, will most likely make an investment of some sort. Whether this is financial investment, time, or team training, the return on that investment has to be substantial enough for them to feel value from the product. The problems it solves, the time it saves, or the efficiency it brings to their business, are all measurable benefits that should show positive ROI to the user.
There are clearly huge benefits of a good User Experience for your business. From conversion, to search engine rankings, to perceived brand value. The main point to remember during the Web Design Process is to always keep in mind the purpose of the website from a user point-of-view, not the company.