User experience is widely encompassing, involving everything from usability, accessibility and performance to design, aesthetics and marketing.
Essentially, the user experience is the connection, emotions and experience a user feels when using a product or site. If the user experience is poor, it's unlikely they will come back. If the user experience is memorable, however, a site or product can effectively engage for long-term potential.
Small businesses especially should care about user experience since they have little room for error compared to their larger competitors. Small businesses often lack the budget to undergo a major brand or marketing transition, making a consumers' first impression of the user experience vital in shaping their chances of becoming a repeat customer.
Here are six reasons why small businesses should care about UX, as well as what they should focus on:
User Experience Is Trending Upward
Website visitors' expectations increase with new technologies and rising web-based sophistication. Whereas the web's early days contained content with useful information alone, the user experience online has become more important than ever. The rising importance of user experience aligns with a rising demand in UX designers.
The rising demand for user experience professionals is for a reason. Websites are growing in their embrace of great user experience, noticing that UX plays a pivotal role in whether website visitors return to their site in the future or dismiss it entirely. Simply put, your small business should care about user experience because it's something that your competition likely values. If your competition offers a great user experience and you're lagging behind in that area, they can leave you in the dust while picking up your customers.
UX Is Worth the Investment
Businesses that regard user experience as a superfluous cost are making a grave error. While implementing quality UX design does require investment, the investment pays off handsomely. A big reason for the great ROI is that over half of users say they are less likely to engage with a company touting a poor mobile UX. Users demand a quality UX.
Implementing a great user experience is a matter of survival in today's rich and dense web, where users expect more from websites and brands than ever. If a site looks outdated or seemingly doesn't attempt to engage its visitors, there's little reason for visitors to stay. As a result, the investment in quality UX is well worthwhile.
UX Extends Beyond the User Interface
A common misconception regarding UX is that it's primarily relating to visualization and a user interface. While a user interface is the medium of communication between a user and a system, the user experience links visualization with how it works and feels. Interaction design and visual design merge within the user experience design, which encompasses content, sound, system architecture and human-computer interaction.
Quality UX grasps user behavior with a deep understanding, specifically a user's needs, motivations and goals for using the product. The UX accommodates these needs and motivations, creating an experience that's immediate and easy to figure out. Essentially, UX design ideally provides the most wide-encompassing solution for a target audience.
Generating more sales than any online retailer, Amazon is an ideal place to look for a quality user experience. The primary benefit of Amazon's UX is its breadth of relevant information. When on the page for a Nintendo Switch gaming console, customers can purchase the item with a single click via Amazon's 1-Click ordering, a successful aspect of their UX that improves quickness and accessibility, while also encouraging orders, a win-win. The 1-Click ordering is an example of effective UX that extends well beyond the interface.
Additionally, Amazon provides information regarding the product's availability, trade-in value, color and shipping details. Everything one needs to make an informed purchasing decision is on the page, ranging from product details to reviews. For ecommerce user experience, it's tough to do better than Amazon in their seamless ordering system and breadth of information, though small business should take note regarding Amazon's embrace of user-aiding information to help drive a purchasing decision.
Eliminating the Guesswork
Some website designs can be utterly gorgeous, though be a disaster when it comes to navigation. In this case, despite a beautiful interface, the user experience is subpar. Users may spend too much time deciding how to navigate, instead of embracing the experience as a whole.
Evoenergy's UK Energy Consumption Guide could have been a disaster. A colorful, single page with an enormous amount of data is a recipe for overwhelming a user. However, the site manages to incorporate an effective user experience by highlighting the interactive areas, signified by a hand icon that's accompanied by tips like "navigate years" and "navigate data." It's an example of the importance of signifying interactive content if a site's design is chock full of data and color. Otherwise, the user experience will come across as too daunting with which to interact.
Showcase Your Expertise
Designers, in particular, can employ a unique user experience to showcase their design skills, a hands-on demonstration that can be much more effective than simply listing accomplishments and experience.
Creative developer Tim Roussilhe crafts a journey of user experience on his website. A link that says "Do not press this!" shakes the page's words up in impressive form when clicked, with the message "Now scroll down" appearing after. When scrolling down, visitors come across animations and colors that change as they scroll, capturing the lively and spontaneous creative talents of the artist. Since many looking at this site do so to inquire about the artist's expertise, there is no better way to showcase UX development skills than providing an eye-catching UX in action.
Testing Is Beneficial
When developing a good UX strategy, designers should take note of their competition. What does their UX do well? What would you like to avoid? Craft storyboards to develop an ideal response to certain user interactions, whether it's clicking on a link or engaging with your app. Additionally, conduct tests and collect feedback when UX is in beta. It's unwise to unleash a new UX without back-testing and consumer insight, so take advantage of a beta period that determines whether the UX is truly effective or needs further development.
Small businesses should care deeply about their user experience since web users see UX as a determining factor in whether they will visit again or not. With proper focus, testing and analysis, small businesses can develop a user experience that results in an upswing in customers and ROI.
About the Author: Lexie Lu is a web designer and writer. Her work is featured on CreativeBloq, Envato, Marketo and JUSTCreative. She manages her own design blog, Design Roast, and loves connecting with people on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
- View 3 Tips to Make Your Website More User-Friendly.