If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’ve probably heard some form of the phrase “The customer’s always right.” Despite any problems this philosophy may have caused you as a cashier, it’s popular because it makes sense.
Businesses, of course, revolve around the customers. Without them, the company wouldn’t exist, so it’s important to give them what they need to have a positive experience.
User experience design, or UX design as it’s often called, takes that basic idea and applies it to the digital world. Like that old retail adage, though, the concept of UX design often spurs uncertainty about what it really means and how best to implement it. Let’s clear up that confusion.
What Is UX Design?
UX is how someone feels about interacting with a website, mobile application, software program or another system. UX designers aim to understand how users interact with a system and focus on things such as usability, efficiency, and users’ opinions of the value provided by the system.
As opposed to creating things based on what the designer likes, UX design principles say we should make things based on how it will make users feel and strive to create the best user experience possible.
User experience is often confused with user interface, or UI—a similar, but different, aspect of design. The main difference is that UI deals more with the cosmetic appearance and the presentation of a system, while UX deals more with how the system actually works. UI is closer to what we think of when someone says graphic design, while UX is more about ease of use.
Good UX Requires More Than Just the Design Department
While the design team definitely has a crucial role when it comes to user experience, it’s not something only designers have to worry about. Everybody involved in the creation through sales of a product should be thinking about UX.
Collaborating with the UX department can yield benefits for everyone involved. For example, learning about UX can help marketers better understand their customers. Having an understanding of UX in different channels can also help marketers optimize their materials for each of the channels they use.
This, in turn, will make the lives of designers easier, because they won’t have to redesign products that weren’t made with consumers in mind. It will also lead to better, more popular products because the products will be geared towards the customers.
When marketers collect data on their campaigns, they can also share that information with UX designers, especially if they determine UX may have been a factor in the effectiveness of a campaign. This can help both marketers and UX designers improve their work.
Thinking about user experience is something that needs to be integrated into company culture and the whole process of how a company does business.
Usability Trumps Complexity
Just because some cool new technology becomes available, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use it. It’s tempting to try incorporating fancy, new features into everything you can, but if they’re not easy to use, most people won’t bother.
Google Glass is an example of this. While the concept is incredibly fascinating, it was too complex for most people to use, so it wasn’t useful. Making advanced technology user-friendly may sometimes involve simplifying it—and that’s OK!
People Love Personalization
Personalization is one the biggest current trends in user experience. It takes the system or product and tailors it to each individual user or group of users. When companies implement personalization, they seek to give users the specific things they need without the customers having to put in any effort.
Personalization is also critical for marketers. By designing campaigns with personalization in mind, marketers can help UX designers incorporate it more smoothly into end products.
This, if done well, makes for a much more productive, easy and enjoyable experience for the user. It also makes them feel valued by the company, which may make them more likely to become a return customer or user.
Less Is More
While fancy features and navigation may seem cool to the people who create them and may even enable more functionality, too much can be a turn-off for users. It’s been shown that offering too many choices leads to fewer sales, and this holds true for websites, apps, and other systems.
Consolidate as much as possible, make navigation simple and get rid of unnecessary options. Although somewhat counterintuitive, giving people fewer choices actually makes them more likely to become a customer. Marketers are pretty familiar with this, as it’s core to landing page best practices. Apple is famous for their simple, minimalist design, and they keep doing it because it works.
It’s All About the User
This is the most basic of all user experience principles, but it’s also the most important. If you’re not designing with the user in mind, you’re not using UX design. And it does matter to users. 83% of participants in a survey conducted by an Oregon design consultancy company said user experience is “somewhat or very important.”
As touched upon earlier, your product becomes useless if people aren’t able to use it—no matter how cool, interesting or useful it is. It’s important to remember you’re creating something for the user throughout your entire process. It’s incredibly easy to get off track with this, but keeping it in mind as much as possible will lead to better results.
UX Is Crucial for Your Bottom Line
This is a slight contradiction of the last point, which said it’s all about the user, but UX also positively impacts companies’ top and bottom lines in a big way.
Good UX results in happier users, which leads to more downloads, more return users, and more sales, and every company has some version of those goals.
User experience is an essential part of creating any product in today’s world and something that should be incorporated into everything a company does because now more than ever, the customer is always right.
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