User Experience Roundtable
According to a new study from UserTesting, many enterprises now have allocated time, resources and support to invest in multiple UX methodologies:
- When asked if “user research makes our company more efficient,” 81 percent of executives agreed or strongly agreed.
- For the fourth year, the majority of respondents said their testing frequency increased moderately or significantly.
- Nearly 66 percent said frequency would increase in 2017 (compared to 53 percent in 2016).
- The number of respondents who conduct user research on competitors more than doubled year-over-year (YOY).
- The majority of respondents indicated they invest in three-plus research methodologies (79 percent in usability testing, 65 percent in surveys and 59 percent in interviews).
AROUND THE TABLE
Let’s see how those figures hold up in the real world by asking a panel of experts to weigh in on user experience within their respective industries.
What is user experience?
“User experience describes the overall experience of a person using a website, product, app or even a physical store, and is influenced by a number of different factors: visuals, interactions, words and customer service. Professionals who identify as ‘UX designers’ aim to craft experiences that elegantly move users through a process to reach a specific outcome, like completing a form or finding and purchasing a product. That said, when someone implements solutions that are easiest for the business or their engineers rather than focusing on the needs of the user, this process breaks down and we see poor user experience.”
+ Andrea Wagner, Head of Design at BigCommerce
What are some user-experience expectations that website visitors in your industry have?“Consumer tolerance for fragmented experiences in commerce is lower than ever. Today, consumers expect the ‘Amazon experience’ with each interaction informing the other. They want retailers to have a deep understanding of what truly engages them and a personalized experience based on their habits and preferences each time they shop.”
+ Cassandra Girard, Global Lead, Consumer and Travel Industries at SAP Hybris
“Our company GreenPal is an online marketplace and app that connects homeowners wanting their lawn mowed with local lawn care professionals ready and waiting to cut the grass. In today’s digital world, because of companies such as Uber and Airbnb, customers expect immediate results, choices and reliability with little to no tolerance for defects. The old term ‘beta tester’ as your early customers almost does not exist anymore as today’s users of digital products expect perfection on the first time and every time.”
+ Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal
“All users – business and consumer – face competing demands on their attention. Helping people to do what they want to do quickly and easily is key. At Qubit, we prioritize accessibility, ease of use and consistency across our platform.”
+ Giovanni Luperti, Lead UX Engineer at Qubit
“JotForm is B2B, which means our online forms are crucial parts of workflow processes and revenue streams to a variety of different businesses and nonprofit organizations. Reliability and speed are the two of most important factors in our industry, so we need to be there when our users need us. We strive to give our users the best and easiest tool to create forms.”
+ Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm
“Today, people are busy, and there are many distractions competing for users’ attention. As UX professionals, we need to facilitate and engage a user in his/her path for a job to be done. Expectations and standards are high; that’s why it’s so important to test and iterate on solutions frequently.”
+ Demian Borba, Product Manager for Adobe XD
“Across all industries, people’s expectations continue to rise based on their exposure to best-in-class experiences provided by Apple, Uber, etc. They expect experiences to be seamless, context-specific, and consistent throughout their journey and interactions with a brand. This is particularly pertinent for the B2B space, where customers’ expectations are being shaped by B2C experiences that are typically better designed and customer centric.”
+ Janelle Estes, Senior Director of Enterprise Research Strategy at UserTesting
:: Out-of-the-Box UX ::Customers don’t expect much from on-site search but that is quickly changing. Website Magazine caught up with Reflektion CMO Kurt Heinemann who shares how photos, voice and content are driving rich, more relevant customer engagement at wsm.co/searchux.
Why are companies in your industry failing to meet people’s expectations?“Historically, B2B software and websites have been very technically driven, and this company-first versus user-first mindset can result in subpar UX that often requires intensive training for users. With the consumerization of B2B software, this trend is improving and helping to establish a new expectation about ease and efficiency of back-office software.” + Wagner
“Across industries, there are two main reasons why companies fail to meet customer expectations. First, a lack of truly understanding your customers and the problem that needs to be solved. Second, once the problem has been identified, failing to implement an iterative design process that focuses on vetting customer reactions and acceptance of early concepts and ideas.” + Estes
“Just to be clear, failing can be a good thing. As long as you learn from it, iterate and deliver what customers need. But in general, I think companies fail because they put their own biased perspectives into products, instead of putting the user in the center of everything.” + Borba
“Brands are failing at creating personalized experiences because they do not have the capabilities needed to unify disparate customer data. Retailers need access to customer touchpoints across all channels and various departments – including sales, customer service, marketing, commerce, and billing to truly understand their customers and create contextualized experiences.” + Girard
How should companies prioritize their UX initiatives?“Senior executives, and the CEO, need to conduct customer support at least one hour of every day. This is the most important hour of my day that I spend because it keeps me close to the voice of the customer, the customer’s expectations, and where our product and user experience is failing them. When key stakeholders talk to their users and customers for at least one hour a day there is never a mysterious feeling of what should we build next? Or what is our biggest user experience problem? It is very clear what the product’s and user experience priorities are from dealing with users every day.” + Clayton
“We’re big on agile and continuous development at JotForm and user testing is number one. Also, prioritize user research activities (usability studies, surveys, interviews, etc.) and do it continuously throughout all phases of the product development lifecycle. UX initiatives become exponentially more meaningful the more you do it. Additionally, do not implement every UX ‘myth’ to your product. Even though there are thousands of user testing results on the Web, don’t assume all of them will fit with your product.” + Tank
“One, tie UX initiatives to your large-scale business goals (key performance indicators like increasing conversion, reducing costs, etc.), so you can map efforts back to measurable impact. Two, use data from other sources to help focus and narrow where to spend time understanding and improving the UX. For example, let other tools like Web analytics guide your direction in UX research. As your business matures and can dedicate more time and money to research, you can start pursuing more exploratory and ideational work.” + Estes
How does your company work within UX?“BigCommerce has a team of designers with UX backgrounds who focus on navigation design, page layout, user-interface design, and the details of our functionality and content. Regardless of role, we expect all BigCommerce employees to keep the needs of our users top-of-mind, whether they are handling customer service calls or planning for a new feature.” + Wagner
“UserTesting provides businesses with a platform that allows companies to intimately understand their customers, their problems and their reactions to the proposed solution. Through video feedback, our customers come to better understand their own users’ experience.” + Estes
“SAP Hybris technology allows retailers to create a centralized customer profile that consolidates existing customer information across channels, as well as real-time external data to harmonize the customer experience. This single view has access to each stage of the customer journey and serves as a foundation for personalizing each interaction.” + Girard
How has your business improved UX?“Our company focuses on continuous user experience improvement. For the past two years, we have invested time in sitting down with five users per week. We observe them using our app and our website and what parts of the workflow they are confused on, from onboarding all the way to becoming a retained user. We only do five and then go back and make the improvements. We call this ‘tweakology’ and it has yielded compounding improvements into our workflows and overall user experience for our customers.” + Clayton
“At JotForm, user testing improves our products. We know each and every step is important while creating our user experiences. To help this, we conduct weekly remote usability studies and benchmark the results, watch our customers interact with the product to test our designs. This feedback gives us a chance to rethink how we approach a UX challenge. There’s also internal user testing. At the end of the week, we have and internal ‘Demo Day’ to show off our newly created features and receive feedback from other team members.” + Tank
What apps or websites are pushing UX boundaries?
“I like what companies like Airbnb, Facebook, Snapchat and Slack are doing, always iterating and delivering value.
"To be honest, for me, the Web is boring. I miss the good old days of rich experiences, sound and movement. I hope sites and apps can break out from the norm soon.” + Borba
Additional UX thoughts…?
“A recent study from Adobe found the demand for UX designers is now on par with software engineers, and demand will soon increase by up to 73 percent. With the growing importance of delivering positive customer experiences, investing in strong UX will be a priority for companies of all industries.” + Borba “Design requires discipline of principles. Even a product that has great functionality may not satisfy user expectations. UX is not just a designing term but also marketing, sales and business plan term. Test your users and test yourself. Keep asking questions because sometimes you might be led astray. However, these questions will eventually take you to the right path.” + Tank