What Is The Optimal User Experience (UX)?
Believe it or not, technology has advanced over the recent years. With technology easier to use, easier to access, and more where that came from, there is now an interest in making said tech better. Now, when it comes to improving technology, it ultimately depends on the needs of the people that use them the most: the users. With that said, there is something called user experience.
The term “User Experience,” or “UX,” is used a lot in the tech and design industries. However, there’s a lot of confusion about what that means, and how it impacts you when designing a product. In truth, user experience involves the user, and how they use technology.
With that in mind, UX must evolve with the growing trends of technology. In other words, how can we make UX more optimal?
This article aims to explain what UX is, and how it should impact the way you create products customers want. Today’s discussion will go as follows:
- Defining the user experience
- Separating UX from UI
- Why UX is essential
- The statistics that back the need for UX design, AND
- How to design with UX in mind
So, what does the idea of UX actually mean? Essentially, UX refers to the customer experience in using your product, at every stage. It’s not just about using the product as intended, but acquiring it, and troubleshooting it too.
A good example here is the iPhone. This product is one that is considered to have a great UX. The phone itself is well designed and easy to use, but the whole experience in owning one is positive, too. For example, if a user needs to get help with their phone, they can visit a Genius bar in their local apple store, and get friendly help with the device.
There are several questions that a customer may ask themselves, to evaluate the experience they have with the product. These include:
- Does the product give me value?
- Does the product work?
- Is it easy to use?
- Is it pleasant to use?
All these things feed into the overall UX of your product, so you need to keep these in mind as you’re designing them.
The term “user experience” was coined in the 1990’s by Don Norman, the co-founder of the Nielson Norman Group. He explained that the user experience will cover all aspects of the end users’ interactions with a company, its services and its products.
UX Vs. UI
Sometimes, the term “user interface” (or “UI”) would get tossed into the mix, when discussing technology. While this notion is normal, this can sometimes create confusion during discussions.
“One very common misconception is that UX is the same as user interface,” says business blogger Frank Bowles, from Lucky Assignments and Gumessays. “While they seem the same, they are completely different things. When talking about user interface, you’re thinking about how the user is able to use something. But with user experience, it’s all about the design of that something.”
It’s easy for the two to be confused, as many associate the idea of good design with good visuals. Here though, they aren’t one and the same. Of course, having a good user interface is important, as the product needs to be easy to use. However, as a designer you need to get beyond the surface layer of how the product looks, in order to deliver good UX.
So, you see, UX and UI can benefit off of each other – they’re just not the same.
Why Is UX Important?
You know what UX is now, but why is it important? There’s plenty you already have to think about when designing a product. If you design it well, won’t the good UX come naturally?
It’s actually important that you keep the UX in minds at every stage of the development process. When you do this, you are keeping the user at the core of the experience.
“This is how products succeed, as they’re all designed with the idea of giving the user just what they need,” says Pauline Francis, a marketing writer at LastMinuteWriting. “When the user it at the center, you’ll be able to create a product they’ll be able to connect with.”
Take the iPhone again, as an example. This phone was clearly designed with user needs at the forefront. Because of this, it was able to innovate in many areas, giving users what they were looking for. It’s the key to its success as a product for years.
Still don’t believe that UX design is important for products, here are some statistics from various sources to consider: Did you know that…
- 90% of users will not consider your product, or even leave your site, if it has a bad UX design? (Truelist)
- 85% of adults believe that the mobile version of a website should be better that their desktop version? (Bluespace)
- 48% of mobile users have ZERO TOLERANCE for bad mobile optimization? (Smallbizgenius)
- 53% of mobile users won’t stick around after waiting 3 seconds for something to load? (Smallbizgenius)
- 52% of users won’t return to, say, a website, due to its poor aesthetics? (Bluespace)
- 70% of online businesses fail because of poor UX design? (Truelist)
- Only 55% of companies go out of their way to test their UX design? (Smallbizgenius)
If those statistics won’t keep you awake about UX design, then what else will?
So, to speak, UX design can either make or break you, when it comes to designing a product.
How To Design With UX In Mind
So, now that you know how important UX is to products, how do you design from a UX perspective?
Keep in mind that UX is often successful when the users – the consumers that you’re designing the product for – are able to use it with little to no problems. This might seem challenging if you haven’t thought of UX designing for your products. But the good news is, there are 5 objectives to keep in mind when designing with UX:
Put Users First
Simply put, you’ll need to put the user first. Users are the ones that will invest in your product, if they like what they see. Users will also recommend products, if they love the features and appearances.
TechnoITWorld defines customers as the “end users,” or “consumers” who consume products or services. In other words, when you put users first, you’re allowing them to consume the product as intended, and how they would like.
In short, design with the user in mind. That’s what makes optimal UX in your product.
Know Your Intended Audience
As mentioned, you’ll need to put users first. That’s means that you need to understand your audience.
How? By looking at the people buying your product.
Now, you might not know who will gravitate towards your product until you sell a few hundred of them. Or, if you really want to step into the mind of users, you may ask them for their opinion on the product. This is where you can open your site up for feedback and reviews. Or, you can conduct customer surveys, which allow people to describe their experiences with your product.
Now, when collecting data from customers, pay attention to recurring themes, issues, etc. For example, if you’ve created an app, you might see customers talking about:
- The interior design of the app
- The landing page
- The obstacles when navigating the app (or “pain points”)
- Any other questions or concerns that they might having using the app
With that said, users might run into the following issues on your app:
- Server errors
- Slow load times, etc.
This leads to the next objective…
Understand User Needs
Every user has needs, whenever they use a product. That’s why it’s important to understand what they need.
Going back to the example with the app, keep the following questions in mind:
- What are they looking for in an app like yours?
- How does your app compare to your competitor’s app?
- Why are people gravitating towards your app?
- What are some of the concerns that users are having when using your app?
Again, you can encourage feedback from users by conducting surveys and inviting reviews of your app. If they say that they’re running into certain issues on your app, be sure to fix them right away. Imagine if you were trying the app yourself, and you run into issues as described by other users. Wouldn’t you want the app to run better? Of course, you would.
So, understanding your users can go a long way, when improving the UX of your product.
Research Possible Solutions And Ideas
Doing your research is crucial.
Aside from gaining customer feedback from surveys and email invites, you can also tap into your competitor’s realm. In other words, why not see what your competitors are doing right, when it comes to UX?
Suppose you’ve created and plan on selling a new smartphone. You haven’t gotten much customers yet. So, you decide to look at competing smartphone companies.
Now, when researching your competitors, you might have the following objectives in mind:
- What are consumers going towards when they see your competitor’s product?
- What kinds of features are attracting consumers?
- What are some things that only your product has, when you look at your competitor’s product?
- What are some of the criticisms and or feedback that people have posted about your competitor’s product?
- What can you do to ensure that you have what those users need, so that they can choose your product over your competitor’s?
Now, going back to the smartphone example, you might notice that your competitor is lacking certain features on their smartphone. It could be that some users that having technical issues like spotty Bluetooth compatibility. Or, they could be having problems with their Internet connections, when using their smartphones for online purposes. Perhaps your smartphone can help alleviate these issues? Rather than allow users to be stuck with a faulty smartphone, you can offer yours by saying that your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features are stronger and more efficient than your competitors.
This goes to show that by looking into your competitors’ products, you can perfect the UX design of your product, and then entice consumers into buying said product rather than the competition’s.
Finally, this objective is just as important as the ones described so far.
The last thing you want is to be motivated only by money. At the same time, you need to balance this with your business goals. After all, it’s no good having a product that everyone loves if it’s not profitable.
For example, if you’re selling a security camera, you might have lots of features to show for it. But what if the customer is actually looking for a budget model? As such, you’ll need to remove some features to offer a price point your customer wants.
Needless to say, focus on user needs; profits can come later.
But what is a good price point for a product? Well, that all depends on what your customers think and feel about a product. Would they rather spend more money to get more features? Or would they want reasonable pricing over features? That’s why it’s important to ask consumers through feedback logs and surveys, so that not only are you showing that profits come last, but you’re also being transparent.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to UX in product design. To create an optimal UX, you’ll need to do all of the following, as mentioned in this article:
- Put users first.
- Know your intended audience(s).
- Understand the needs of said users.
- Research possible solutions and ideas. AND,
- Offer the product at a reasonable price.
So, you see, pricing comes last. Therefore, profits should ALWAYS come last when designing with UX in mind. When you center the user in your designs, you’ll create products that offer a long-lasting positive experience. And, when users get long-lasting positive experiences with your product, only THEN will you start seeing long-term success.