Imagine going to meet two new businesses.
On the way to business A, you have high expectations, anticipate a good meeting, friendly people, and great interaction. You get to the building where the meeting is supposed to be. The exterior is fancy and glamorous. Your expectations soar. Inside the poorly lit lobby, no one waits at the help desk. You hunt around the artless, box-shaped space and discover a door marked with your client’s name.
You open the door. Inside, a small reception area resides and at the back of the room, a small frosted window that is closed. You tap on the glass. It opens and a woman points to a seat and closes the glass window. While you stand in the reception area, hopes plummeting, you notice an absence of magazines to peruse. The seats are uncomfortable but you sit there and wait. After eight or twelve glances at your wrists watch, you feel forgotten.
You think about leaving when your contact person emerges and takes you through a doorway to his office. It is cluttered with papers, an overstuffed filing cabinet and a desk that hasn’t seen the light of day for months. Your client clears a pile of books and papers from a seat and places it on another overloaded seat.
What makes a better experience?
On the way to business B, you walk into a modern, brightly illuminated lobby with stunning artwork displayed on the walls. You’re welcomed just before the door closes behind you. You’re offered a beverage from a selection of choices, while they summon the point man you’ve come to see. A friendly person kindly and promptly escorts you to a seat in a plush reception area. Stacks of glossy new magazines glimmer from table tops and racks on the wall. Magazines loaded with information you want to read, information that interests you. You want to hang out in the reception area and look through everything, bask in this classy atmosphere.
You’re not very far into a nice juicy article before your name is called, and your beverage has hardly been tapped. A cheerful and smartly dressed woman leads you down a hall, past paintings and portraits and beautiful sculptures, past a fountain (designed to relax, but you’re already relaxed!) to the open door of your waiting contact. His handshake is warm, his smile genuine and his furniture is classic and comfortable.
Is your website like Business A or Business B?
Consider the technological advances over the last 5-10 years. From desktop to smartphone to tablet – and now to VR/AR. In what ways have your clients advanced with these changes? How and where do your users interact with your website? Are they on the go? What is their average attention span? As the business owner, you want to consider how, why and where a visitor might be interacting with your site data. Innovation is key to ensuring that you’re providing a service to your clients in a new and delightful way.
Astute business owners took the time to analyze and realize that a huge pain point for their major clientele – busy moms – was the frustration of managing young children while also trying to shop for groceries. Companies like Instacart or Kroger’s ClickList grew out of that awareness. Moms (or anyone) can fill out an online shopping cart and have it delivered to their door (Instacart) or the shopping is already done through ClickList and they pull up to Kroger’s, pay and have their preselected groceries placed in their vehicle. They completely turned shopping around by creating a new and innovative experience. That’s user experience done well. Those services and companies will quickly excel and lead their industries – because they clearly understand their target user and tailor the experience accordingly.
What is UX/UI?
Right now with so much talk about UX/UI design, it might seem the two terms are interchangeable, but they are not. Both are important to keep in mind throughout the app design process. In Samir Patel’s article, What is the Importance of User Experience? Common Problems with UX and UI Patel clarifies using the home as an example. Thinking of UX/UI as a house, UX asks does the layout make sense? Is there a natural flow from one room to the next? Each room is designed with a function in mind, do they serve that function well? The home décor, the paint color, whatever makes the home look beautiful, that is UI. In a perfect marriage, these two work together synergistically to provide a delightful user experience.
“While poor UI can lead to a poor UX, it doesn’t mean
that a great UI will lead to a great UX.” –Samir Patel
UI: User Interface
Currently, devices employ several ways to interact:
· Touch screen, keypad, touchpad and mouse
· Search: type in commands voice commands
· Menus: Select a choice from option on menu
· Screens, pages, and icons used to interact with a device
UX: Analytical and Technical
While complex and multifaceted, UX makes it easy for visitors and clients to access your information, frustration free and evoking positive feelings. In turn, this fosters brand loyalty and repeat business and referrals. Boiled down to its basic component, UX focus on the user’s journey to solve a problem or pain point. Mothers with young children sing the praises of ClickList because they can order groceries from wherever they happen to be and pull up to the store. Kroger’s loads them into her running car and she doesn’t have to step foot in the store. In less than 15 minutes, she’s on her way home. She will keep shopping there because they take care of her, it’s easy to use and the experience is consistent.
Likewise for the person who wants to get in touch with his loan officer in a mortgage brokerage. While it is possible to look up the number, dial, get the receptionist and then the loan. The firm had their loan officer’s numbers not only listed on their website for convenience but clickable and in two easy taps of a key, the home buyer is connected within seconds.
The Seven Keys of UX
· Useful – is its purpose immediately clear
· Usable – easy for a normal person to use
· Findable – is information where a user expects to find it – why your site needs order
· Credible – can users trust your product
· Desirable – is it pretty, do I want it, will I brag about it
· Accessible – to a broad range of users (particularly impaired)
· Valuable – it must deliver value: a cost effective solution to a problem.
A Perfect Blend
Ideally, these must all work together cohesively to ensure a website is useful for clients. Your ideal client is on a buyer’s journey and at its core, this is the primary goal of UX – to create a clear user path through the thoughtful and strategized design of the experience. Attract clients by adding value to their experience. Help them through the decision making process with content they can use and showing them the benefits of your product or service. Convert them into your clients by providing clear calls to action. Close a lead and delight new clients after the sale by having strategic thank you pages and follow-up engagement, through automated email marketing campaigns or personal following.
Run designs through user testing pre-launch or A/B Testing post-launch where various user bases may see different versions of a page. Talking to users about your site can reveal some design changing insights. For example, are company team members readily accessible or must visitors dig through pages to find contact information?
These tests often reveal unexpected data – meaning design should be driven by data to ensure truly meaningful results. For example: If only 2% of leads on a landing page actually convert to complete a form – heat mapping and A/B testing of the page design and layout often turns up data showing one layout attracts more conversions than another. Using the right design team can help you improve your website and your brand as well as increase visitors and ROI.
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