When you use a digital product whether that’s a website or an app, do you think “this looks pretty”, or “this is easy to use!”? Chances are, it’s a bit of both. User Experience or UX design is a process that ranges from interaction design, information architecture, visual direction, usability, and human-computer interaction. While UI design often gets all the plaudits and most of the focus, good UX is arguably a more important discipline in creating usable solutions – yet it’s often misunderstood.
The primary role of UX is to drive an outcome from a user, based on a business objective. Good UX not only means increased outcomes for your site but also a higher chance of the user returning and advocating for your product of service.
Clever UX can have users addicted to a product, browsing when they don’t even need to be, or simply just enjoying their experience with you. Here are the five most important reasons, you need to think more seriously about UX design.
Your product will be better overall
Putting effort into UX means your website is in a constant state of improvement. With wireframing, prototyping, reviewing analytics and user testing, the user experience will get better and therefore, your users will get more out of your product. This not only includes interaction designers but also content strategists, user researchers, information architects, engineers and product managers to make sure the experience is seamless. You want your users to leave your solution feeling like your product added value to them, not just looking pretty.
You’ll stop developing features users don’t want
Knowing what works well for users is the key to keeping them coming back. With customer journey maps, you’ll be able to find out which features go unused and which are indispensable to them. Not only features, but UX can be measured overall with metrics and key performance indicators which will show what your users are looking for.
You can measure UX
The two most effective ways you can measure user experience is through UX metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators). Metrics are a set of quantitative data points that are used to measure, compare, and track the user experience of a website or app over time. These can be used to inform UX design decisions, based on fact rather than creativity. KPIs take into account the overall goals of your product and how the UX can increase revenue growth by user retention and increased user numbers.
UI isn’t UX
UX and UI are not interchangeable under the umbrella term “usability” and in fact they are two very separate skills. If the interface looks impeccable, it’s a waste of time if it doesn’t actually work to deliver an outcome. The user experience is not just how the product flows or just haptics and features, it controls emotions such as delight, additivity and generally things that are harder to engineer. What used to be a minor role of the overall engineering of a digital product, is now nearly the most important thing. Whether that is the simplicity of use or a surprise and delight moment.
You make the subjective, objective
When it comes how something looks in a design context, the difference between “subjective” and “objective” depends on whether the result is based on opinions or facts. Subjectively, your UI could be the height of fashion, and should do well because it looks so fabulous. But objectively, the facts and numbers could tell a completely different story. UX, based on the metrics and KPIs from before can be improved based on numbers. The key is bridging the gap between what subjectively looks good and what objectively feels good. UI without UX would essentially mean that the success of your product would be relying entirely on subjective creative interpretation.
Amazon is a great example of this. Next time you go on Amazon, have a closer look at the product pages. They aren’t the prettiest; in fact they’re cluttered and the CTAs follow very outdated design patterns. This is because Amazon care more about UX than UI. Every single thing, no matter how small, is measured to generate the best outcome. They are famous for their micro-experiments.
In short, UX cannot be ignored when it comes to your digital products that have a job to do for you which always boils down to return on investment. Evidence and metrics-based UX design is responsible for the overall experience of your customer, their emotions when using your product, whether they are satisfied with your service and ultimately, if they will want to spend their money.
Sometimes good UX beats UI. Sometimes it’s a compromise. They need to work together to deliver the right outcome for both you as a business and your user, rather than focussing on creating a digital beauty contest.