If you’ve spoken to any web professionals recently, they may have stressed the importance of the “user experience” or “UX” of your website. But what is user experience? How does it relate to design? And is this just another buzzword to confuse and help salespeople ramp up the cost of your new website? Let’s dive right in and find the answers!
What is UX?
As touched upon in our opening paragraph, UX stands for user experience, but explaining what UX is to clients is where many agencies fall-down, relying on technical terms which can leave a client scratching their heads.
Here at Actuate, because of our deep understanding of user experience design, we find explaining UX within web design relatively easy. In simple terms, UX is the emotion and feeling you get when interacting with a website; this is either good because the website is easy to navigate, helps you to find what you’re looking for and makes your life easy or it can be bad. Obviously, when it comes to your website, you’re aiming for the user experience to be good. If you happen to partner with an agency that has a solid understanding of UX design, then you can change the word “good” into the word “great”, and things really start looking bright for your project.
The Importance of UX
Now we know what user experience is, you’ve probably already got an inkling of why it may be important for your website. Ask yourself a quick question, name the single action you both want and don’t want a user to perform once they hit your website? Hopefully, your answer is something along the lines of:
- I want a user to complete a desired action, such as buying a product or signing up for further information (known as conversion).
- I don’t want a user to leave my website (known as bounce). Apart from your website containing the information a user searched for to find it in the first place, the significant deciding factor to both of these questions comes down to UX.
- If your website looks awful and off-putting to a user causing them to leave, this is a UX (and UI – user interface) issue.
- If your website looks great but is hard to navigate and search, then you may find a user leaves looking for another option, this is a UX issue.
- If users get angry because your website takes too long to load on a mobile device, this is a UX issue.
- If your checkout is overly complex or asks too many questions causing a user to leave for your competitors, this is a UX issue.
We could go on, but fingers crossed you’ve started to see a pattern here, UX is important! You want the user experience of your website to be joyful, awe-inspiring, refreshing or at the very least, better than those of your competitors.
What Makes A Great UX?
After establishing we need UX and we want great UX when it comes to your website, the real question we need the answer to is what makes a great UX?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t straightforward because everyone and every website is different. This is why the importance of partnering with an agency who understands the intricacies of user experience is so vital.
The first step on creating a great UX for your website is understanding your business, your product and the users it will be serving. This information can be passed on by you, the client or gleaned from other sources such as analytics software and user research. Once we have a clear indication of the purpose your website is designed to fill and the people it will be serving, then a tailor made list of user experience goals can be created and built into the fabric of your website.
Although every website is different, UX does have some universal principles which carry over from project to project, these include:
- Simple and easy to understand navigation
- Easy to find information and products
- A quick and light checkout procedure
- Prominent branding and on-brand messaging
A website is so much more than a pretty design overlaid on top of a pre-made piece of software. When it comes to succeeding online, your website should be tailored and tweaked so it appeals directly to your target audience, and this is achieved through the user experience.
For the sceptical, investing in a properly thought out website or “UX” may seem like another scheme of get-rich-quick entities, but in reality partnering with an agency who understands UX could save you thousands in the long-term. Consider your next website, it looks good; you saved a few thousand because you skipped the “UX stage” on the advice of a so-called web designer and you’re ready to sell sell sell. The first thing you do is invest heavily in search engine optimisation to get visitors to your site, but although visitors start to climb, you’re still not doing much business. The reason? The user experience just isn’t working for you, and people are leaving for your competitors. You finally realise scrimping on the UX stage of development and not choosing that agency who understood the power of user experience was a mistake which has cost you dearly.
Don’t be that person, UX has the power to make your website stand out in your industry. Contact Actuate today on 01244 911360 to discuss your next great project or a current project which has failed to perform as you expected.