User Experience or UX is a buzz word these days. But what really is User Experience?
To me user experience is helping the user to achieve a certain thing in the most simplest way.
How can we achieve this? By designing the touch points which leads to that certain thing user is trying to achieve. So what really happening here is, the designer is designing the behaviour of a user in a certain way. We are not just designing products or services the way a user want, we are designing the way we want the user to behave while using a product or service. Let me explain.
If user experience is for users, does users know what they want?
Users don’t really know what they want. Period.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”Henry Ford
What did they actually want? They wanted to travel fast. Faster horses were not the solution.
So good user experience is not about giving users what they say they want, it is about figuring out what a user actually want by observing them and having insights.
Users and clients face problems. They know the immediate problems, but not all of them are capable of defining the core problem and the solution. Not able to reach from point A to point B as horses were not fast enough was the problem. But slower horses were not the real problem and faster horses were not the solution.
Why user experience is important in websites?
The user experience plays a huge role in website design and app design world. This is because most businesses use websites and apps to reach out to customers. So what does a user experience designer do on a website? If I have to break it down into three steps, this is ideally the process a good user experience designer follow.
- Understand the business and the business goals.
- Study and immerse into users and their behaviours.
- Design pages according to what behaviour you want to create when the user is on a certain page.
Three simple steps, which are not very easy to achieve. Understanding business and its goals is not an easy task, especially if you are not familiar with the business. You need to spent time with the key people who run the business, talk to them about their operations, understand various user journeys from their perspective, understand the revenue model and the flow of sales. Flow of sales is something every web designer should be concerned about.
Much like you spent time with the business owners you need to spent time with the real users. At the end of the day conversion is what a business need. You can boast all about social media and analytics metrics, but if they are not converting to a paying customers the business will fail. Closely watching the user’s behaviour and their intensions are very important.
Create user personas. Understand the flow you want to create for the user. Understand the user’s decision making process. Ask the right questions.
If you are designing a website for an offline store, physically spent a day and understand the sales flow. Have conversations with the customers. When you see the sales flow, you will understand the blocks they go through. When you understand this you will be able to design in such a way that you can make those blocks go away. You decide what behaviour you want to create when they are on the page.
Why do designers go wrong?
Theoretically everyone does or talks about user experience design. But most times the so called designers does spent a very little time with the audience or actual users. This happens due various reasons from budget/time constraints or people involved don’t understand the importance of user research.
Some of them do user research, but they fail to do it well. They basically miss to know what the users want, their point of view and fail to ask the right questions. Finally they design something they think works for the user.
The first two steps decide the quality of the third step. If you get both of them right, you will be able to give the user the experience they actually want. What are the relevant elements on a page? Why that, why not this? What are you trying to achieve with the page? A element moved from one location to another, what difference does it make?
If you understand the customer and business well you can design all these without any trouble.
Design is a strategic approach, not an aesthetic approach
Instead of designing nicely, graphically design things strategically. Understand the flow you want to create for the user. Decision making page is really important. You might need to put two or more personas on the same timeline if two people are discussing and making the decision. Based on the persona you might be even creating different pages and with right design you sent the right leads to right pages.
This is why you should understand the cost of bad design. In a bad design you fail to sent the right people to the right page and thus you loose the user. This will cost the business a lot of money. May be you tried saving some money by not doing proper design, but see what it is costing you at the end of the day.
Structure of page should be based on the way conversation of a sales person goes. You website should drive motivation and give information on what the user need, to make a decision.
UX design is a state of mind. Move attention to audience, be with audience, spent time with them. Even when you are looking at other websites for inspiration, do it to understand the underlying reason of why every element is placed where they are. Finding websites for graphical inspiration is what most people do. Don’t write for the SEO or for clicks, in long term none of it is going to work in your favour. Write titles that makes sense to the actual content. Spent on good content creation, results will happen over a period of time.
Invision blog is a great example. Here people write from the real experience of their profession. They know exactly what they talk about and know to write. They are adding value to the readers! They’re not bloggers from outside world that got a few keywords to follow. Invision blog is written by the small amount of people who know what they talk about and have the ability to write, this is what makes somebody to follow them.
Content marketing is creating value for users. So content is all about user experience.
User experience is everywhere
User experience is not just for websites, it is for literally everything. The way your keyboard is designed is to give a certain experience. The design gets you to behave in a certain way. You know why your keyboard is not ABCD, but QWERT?
The arrangement of keys are in such a way that most frequently used keys are far apart. During the time of mechanical typewriter it was important for the functionality of the typewriter. Everyone got used to it and it was then adopted when computer was invented. The design created the behaviour.
Designers design the way you hold your phone, the way you sit in your car, the way you open a packet, the way you drink from a bottle – literally everything is giving a certain user experience. Everything is designed. However not everything is designed well, which leads to bad user experience.
If a newspaper ad is not appealing enough or if its is not making you to go through it, it is because the design is bad. I am not talking about the graphical design here. I am talking about the hierarchy of design. If a clear heading is missing, which makes you to go through the rest, the amount of money some company spent on the design and print cost just went waste. Hence, the cost of bad design is a lot higher than you think.
Bad communication design is bad user experience
If you failed to let the users know what you wanted to communicate, it is bad user experience. You are just leaving your users in the dark.
If people have to google to understand the meaning of your ad, you failed. Cost of bad design is in hundreds of thousands.
Poor design causes poor user experience.
A much-overlooked portion of design’s value is that, poor hashtag#design is very costly to an organization. Poor design generates costly support calls. It causes lost sales or dropped subscriptions. Poor design can increase development costs through rework and waste.
One responsibility of a design leader is to demonstrate the value of design to the organization.Jared