In the modern business world, there’s a term or phrase for almost everything you can imagine. Back-end development, engagement, digital marketing, influencers, affiliates, A/B testing, and many more buzzwords make things so confusing. If you’re new to the world of business, the jargon you encounter is going to be unfamiliar. User experience is a relatively new term in the world of design and technology. If you’d like to know what it means, this article is going to help you.
You’ve probably heard plenty of people using the term. However, the end-user experience, UX field, or lean UX field is still growing, which means the jury is still out concerning the real definition of this term. It’s mentioned a lot when people talk about websites or an app, but the name has a much broader meaning.
User Experience or UX – What Does it Mean?
The term user experience, or UX, refers to how humans interact with a product. It could be any product, from a smart TV to the tissues you use for wiping your nose. It includes all types of interaction, from using the on-off switch to its shape and how pleasing it is to the eye.
How successful a product is going to be, depends very much on the user experience; in other words, how the consumer perceives it. People tend to evaluate a product in the following three ways:
- If the product provides value
- How easy the product is to use
- Whether using the product is a pleasant experience or a bad one
If a product offers a positive experience in these three ways, then the consumer is likely to keep using it and be loyal to the brand.
The user experience encompasses many different aspects. These include:
- The design
- User interface
- A person’s interaction with it
- Information provided with the product
The user experience is a continually evolving one, so it’s an ongoing process, whatever business you’re running.
Is User Experience Design the Same Thing?
User experience design is a user-centered design process rather than a concept. It’s a way of designing products or services that take into account aspects of branding, design, usability, and user experience. The process encompasses the complete process from having an idea, to producing a product and putting it on the market. It also includes troubleshooting and correcting any issues. The user-centered design principles of user-centered design, UCD for short, go way beyond the appearance of a product. The focus is more on the feeling part of a product.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
UX or User Experience designers is a job title you’re going to hear more often. But what do they do? A UX designer determines what the user experience is going to be. In other words, they’re focused on ensuring a product is useful, usable, and the end-user enjoys using it.
A UX designer has six primary responsibilities. An app such as Trusteer Rapport and Management Systems, such as SAP SuccessFactors, will have been taken through the following six steps by their product designers.
Research is the starting point for all User Experience designers. Product research is the foundation on which a great design rests. Part of the research includes finding out about products’ users, for example, their needs, goals, and behavior. What motivates them is also vital. As well as finding out about the user, UX design research also helps designers understand standards in any given industry and pinpoint opportunities for product growth.
Data collection takes place in different ways; for example, focus groups, online surveys, face-to-face interviews, and analyzing the competition.
2. Identify User Groups
The results of the research are then used to identify user groups and create fictitious identities for people in these groups. The user personas created are examples of the people already using a product. They might be imaginary people, but their creation aims to reflect identified patterns, both of people already using a product as well as prospective customers.
Part of the persona identification process is to imagine all the various interactions a person might have with a product.
3. Define Information Architecture
The next step is to create information for the user. They need to be able to understand how to use the product and where to find things they need. To generate this information, a UX designer has to consider the needs of the audience or user. The type of product and any offers a company might have also influenced the information architecture (IA).
Let’s give you an example. How many times have you visited a website only to be frustrated and confused when you can’t find your way around. With such a bad first experience, you’re unlikely to revisit the site. Had the designer of the site taken the all-important third step of creating information architecture, this wouldn’t have happened.
4. Create a Blueprint
The fourth step is to create a blueprint or wireframe. It’s a vital part of the process, particularly when building websites or apps. It’s a way of laying out content and functionality while taking into account a user’s needs and their journey.
The idea behind a wireframe is for team members and stakeholders to get a visual understanding before the creation of a product.
5. Create a Prototype
A prototype is an interactive representation of the product. A prototype can be used for user testing and is generally very similar to the final product. It might not look the same, but it should function similarly.
6. Testing of the Product
Following on from a prototype’s creation comes the testing stage. It can be given to a selection of end-users to determine how they use it and whether any changes are necessary. Data gathered from the in-person user tests can be either verbal or non-verbal. A variety of testing methods are available for a UX designer to use.
Different Types of User Testing Methods
Researchers in the field of User Experience has developed many techniques for testing. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular.
This type of user testing focuses on the user and how they use a product. It involves watching or tracking a user and seeing if the product they use is usable. It’s a very effective way of understanding real-life user experiences. Using this method allows the researcher to collect different data about users. There are two different types of usability testing:
- Moderated usability testing
- Unmoderated remote usability testing
Beta testing takes place when a near-complete product is ready, and people are willing to try it and offer feedback. During the testing, it’s possible to ask users questions, see how they use a product and allow them to report on any bugs.
This type of testing works best after other types of testing. In such cases, most of the bugs are already ironed out.
Focus groups have been popular for many years. They are a tried and tested method of getting feedback regarding products. Participants include a researcher, a moderator, and between 6 and 12 users. Discussions take place regarding issues and concerns about UI features.
Focus groups are an excellent way to gauge a user’s needs and feelings. This type of testing aims to find out what users want from the product.
The recommendation is that more than one focus group runs alongside other user testing methods.
If you want to gather vast amounts of data about a product, surveys are often the best way to do it. They also require a minimal amount of time and can be done online. There are a variety of survey tools you can use, for example, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or Wufoo. Send out the questionnaire or survey and wait for the responses. With minimal effort, it’s possible to send out hundreds of them.
Include the right questions in your survey, and you can find out a lot about customer needs, desires, and issues that are causing problems.
There is one downside to sending out surveys. It’s not possible to study the end-users behavior when using a product. Uncovering usability problems is something else you can’t do with a survey. It’s also worth pointing out that any survey is only as good as the work that goes into preparing it. You must ask the right questions and question the right audience.
If you find yourself with two elements you can’t decide between, A/B testing can help you come to a decision. The method is simple – you run two websites or apps, and then measure which one performs better.
The Seven Areas of Effective User Experience
The success or failure of a product in the market is dependent on a user-centered approach. Usability was traditionally thought to be the deciding factor. However, UX has expanded on this one feature and includes six more.
The seven factors of user experience include whether a product is:
These factors form the user experience honeycomb, a visualization tool devised by Peter Morville. If you’re about to start a new business or launch a new product on the market, ask yourself the following questions.
Is the Product Useful?
There’s little point in bringing a product to the market if customers aren’t going to find it useful. The shops are full of useless products vying for people’s attention, so you’d better make sure your product serves a purpose. Usefulness is a personal thing and can be aesthetically useful as well as fun. Products that entertain can be considered valuable, for example, an oil painting or a computer game.
Is the Product Usable?
Does the product help the end user achieve a goal? It should also be fit for purpose. An electronic gadget that requires three control pads is not much good because humans tend to have only two hands.
A product can still succeed if it’s not usable. However, technological advancements often bring a more usable product to the market within a short space of time. An excellent example of this is the MP3 player. They worked adequately, but when a better gadget came along, it lost its market share.
Can You Audience Find the Product?
For a product to be successful, users have to be able to find it. If you look at the example of an online newspaper, users are going to be very frustrated if there’s no order to the news stories. Findability is not a factor for all products, but it is applicable for quite a few.
Is the Product Credible?
Users need to be able to trust a product and the company that’s produced it. This is where the reputation of a company comes into play. Users also need to be confident that your product will do what it’s supposed to and last for a fair amount of time. All the information provided with the product should be accurate and user-friendly.
Is the Product Desirable?
Think about two brands of cars for a moment. Put a Lamborghini up against a standard Ford sedan, and most people are going to choose the Lamborghini, given a choice. Not everyone can afford to purchase a Lambo. However, it’s a more desirable motor.
The desirability of a product often boils down to a few factors. These are branding, identity, aesthetics, image, and emotional design.
Can Users access the product?
A user experience should be something that’s accessed by all users, regardless of age, culture, disabilities, and bank balance. Accessibility of a product is often left on the back burner because manufacturers tend to concentrate on the majority market.
In many EU jurisdictions, the accessibility of a product is a legal obligation.
Does the Product Deliver Value?
The last factor to consider is that a product has to deliver value. The initial success of a product is very dependent on its delivering value.
If you want your product to succeed on the market, it has to deliver on all seven factors. Miss just one and your competitors are going to corner the market.
Why UX Design is Important for Your Business
UX has been a buzzword for a while now, but there are still lots of people wondering why it’s essential. Let’s see if we can set the record straight for you. Here are five reasons why you should invest in human-centered design right away.
Reduces Costs Further Down the Line
Any new product released on the market comes with a certain amount of risk. Taking advantage of UX design, however, can help to reduce that risk. Researching, analyzing, and testing are all features of UX design that ultimately benefit your business. The result is that they help to save money.
If you’re able to prevent future issues by thinking more holistically during the design stage is far less expensive. Trying to fix problems further down the line by either redesigning or sorting out any bugs is always going to cost more.
Problems with products are often usability issues. The solving of these issues takes place during the prototype stage of the UX design process.
Increases Conversion Rates
Most modern businesses need a website if they want to reach their audience. User experience design can help to increase conversions by assisting potential customers in finding what they want. You’ve probably experienced a poorly designed website before and appreciate how frustrating it can be.
If you want to increase the number of conversions on your product, your website has to be easy to use. Visitors to your site have to be able to find what they need quickly and with little effort. It’s a well-known fact, for example, that responsive web design is vital because an increasing number of people shop online using a variety of mobile devices.
Other mistakes you can make with your website include:
- Not having a proper call to action
- Web pages with too much clutter
- Poor visual design
- Poor navigation
- Complicated purchasing process
- Substandard content
When shopping online, the consumer expects the process to take place at lightning speed. Any holdups along the way, and they’ll quickly jump ship and look elsewhere.
Helps with SEO
Did you realize that Google algorithms take note of user experience? If your website, for example, offers a poor user experience, its search engine’s ranking is going to be lower. If you focus on the user experience and make the necessary improvements, your SEO ranking improves.
Leads to Increased Brand Loyalty
A positive user experience benefits your business in many ways. Still, one of the most significant is that it increases brand loyalty. It does this because a great user experience builds trust in your business and encourages people to become longstanding customers.
For your business to be successful, you not only have to look at ways to attract new customers. You also have to be aware that keeping them is equally important. Effective UX design attracts new customers but also retains and nurtures them, so they stick around.
Leads to an Increase in Word-of-Mouth Referrals
While the internet has taken over many aspects of marketing, there’s still room for traditional word-of-mouth. A personal recommendation often means more than any amount of feedback you might read online. Word-of-mouth referrals can also be done online with the help of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
UX design can help with referrals by making social sharing easy. Interactions with social media channels have to be seamless.
Different Types of UX Jobs
UX designers are just one small section of the world of UX professionals. If you want to adopt a more human-centered design approach, there are a wide variety of experts who can help you. Let’s introduce a few of them now.
- User Interface Designers – a UI designer is responsible for making technology cool and easy to use. They need to understand how humans interact with technology, whether it’s a TV, car, smartphone, or website. A UI designer also needs to understand technology and computer programs. Particular focus is on graphic design, human-computer interaction design, and information architecture.
- Information Architects – an IA helps a business create documents relating to its business and technical requirements. The records include wireframes, user flow diagrams, sitemaps, and customer journeys.
- UX Designers – a UX designer, has their fingers in lots of different pies and could be involved in one or all of the user experience process. They have design and research skills, understand what the end-user needs, and can provide solutions.
- User Experience Architects – UX architects also have a broad set of skills. They also understand the connection between brand and technology, content, strategy, and psychology. Using their skills and knowledge, they’re able to find the best solution to meet customers’ needs.
- UX Developers – UX developers, are often hired to help a business improve sales and grow their business. They are part designer, part developer, and possess creative skills as well as an understanding of HTML.
- Usability Analysts/User Researchers – these are professionals trained in surveying, observing, and interviewing end-users. They look at concept ideas and help to determine weaknesses and strengths, potential, and precedents. They might present their findings in written reports.
- Project Managers – a UX project manager is a highly organized individual who can coordinate many different aspects of a project. They are aware of all the processes and roles of project team members. It is their job to guide the development of a product or service.
- Interaction Designers – interaction designers focus on what happens when an end-user does a particular thing. For example, they might look at what happens when an end-user clicks their mouse or taps their mobile device.
User Experience vs. Customer Experience – Which is More Important?
Customer experience and user experience may sound very similar, but they are, in fact, very different. So what’s the difference?
Customer experience has a much broader scope than user experience. It refers to all experiences a customer might have with a specific brand. It includes all channels, all products, and how the user feels about them. Customer experience consists of the customer’s perception of:
- Brand reputation
- Pricing fairness
- Product delivery
- Sales process
- Customer service
- Individual product user experience
User experience, on the other hand, is more product-specific. It might be a website, mobile application, the latest energy-efficient refrigerator, or an electric car.
You might be wondering whether it’s worth investing in one or the other, or whether both are worthy of your time. Let’s see if we can answer this critical question. We’ve already looked at why UX is important, so let’s do the same for customer experience.
The Importance of CX for Your Business
Offering excellent customer experience means your business is going to stand out from your competitors. Whether the experience is a good or bad one determines whether the customers come back again for more or looks to your competitors. With so much competition in the business world, you have to do everything you can to stand out. Offering customers the best last-minute travel deals, for example, isn’t going to work if the customer service doesn’t exceed expectations.
So is customer experience more meaningful? Of course, it is, although user experience is part and parcel of the overall customer experience. The two fields are inextricably connected and complement each other.
Top 5 International UX Companies 2019
It’s possible to focus on UX when you’ve got your own business, but there are also many UX companies you can turn to for help. The success of your products is dependent on providing the best user experience. It’s not always possible to find the time or get your team. So, just in case you ever need to find one, here’s a list of the top five.
Clay global is located in San Francisco, California, and is a UI and UX design and development company with an impressive list of clients. Key names on its client list include Coca-Cola, Google, Facebook, Coinbase, and Slack. Its array of specialties is impressive. It can also offer help with UI/UX for a mobile app, enterprise software, marketing websites, building a brand identity.
Its client list mostly includes Fortune 100 companies and Silicon Valley startups valued at more than $1 billion. Clay is a company that can take an idea and follow it through until production and beyond.
Instrument.com has offices in Portland and New York City. Its repertoire of services includes designing and building digital products and communications. The instrument is another UX design and brand agency with a powerful list of clients. Key clients include Spotify, Airbnb, Dropbox, Nike, Levi’s, and Intercom.
The company has earned a reputation for designing modern and interactive websites. According to its website, the company aims to enrich the human experience. Using research and data, the UX team of more than 330 employees can help your business benefit from the change.
Services available include branding, strategy and consulting, websites and apps, technical architecture, and prototyping.
Redantler.com has its company headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and has made itself a name for helping startups and new ventures. Allbirds and Casper are two well-known startups that Redantler has had a hand in helping with design and branding.
Emily Heyward, the company’s co-founder and chief brand officer, has made it into the list of 100 Most Powerful Women.
Ideo.com is a top UX agency based in Palo Alto, California. The company launched in 1991, and since then, it has been working with some of the world’s big brands. One of its earliest triumphs was the first-ever Apple Mouse.
After a few years, the company branched out to include interaction design and coined the phrase ‘design thinking.
Ideo is well-known for its innovative ideas and its fondness for prototypes.
Digital Telepathy is based in San Diego and started life as a web design firm, more than five years ago. Chuck Longanecker founded digital Telepathy, and today the company boasts some very famous clients, including Marriott and Adobe.
As well as a cool website, Telepathy also has a popular blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. ServiceNow recently acquired the company, but hopefully, that won’t mean it stops forging forward with User Experience design.
Have you been involved in user experience or UX design? Would you like to embrace the concept with your new business? Are there UX designers you’d like to recommend for others? Have we missed some vital piece of information you’d like to share? Please take a moment to leave a comment. We like to think we’ve covered all angles but are more than happy to add anything we’ve omitted.