Why User Experience Design Is Important
A critical part of leveraging your digital platforms to grow your organization is to provide a great user experience across multiple platforms. From offering users an effective mobile app to designing a fluid browsing experience on desktop, user experience (UX) design takes research, testing and attention to detail.
What Is User Experience Design?
UX design is the thought that goes into how a user experiences your digital properties. It’s measured by a unique mix of user behavior metrics, such as engagement rate or average session duration, and a healthy dose of gut feeling and common sense.
The best UX experiences satisfy a user’s need for information by removing barriers and reducing friction at every step of the customer journey.
There’s an experience users want to have online. UX design is the attempt to bake that into the ones and zeros.
The Importance of UX Design and Testing
Designing for a great user experience looks different for every brand and every digital platform. Well-designed pages improve site performance, encourage return users and ensure brands meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. While there’s no universal blueprint for UX, it does include several key components.
The Elements of UX Design
There are five key elements to UX design that serve as starting points for our UX and user interface (UI) teams whenever we start a project.
1. Words – All written text and typeface should be designed to suit the target audience and optimized for the platform on which it’s being viewed. That means the reading difficulty will vary to meet the needs of the user to effectively convey the most relevant information possible.
2. Visuals – Iconography, typography, charts and images are just as important – and often more efficient – than text in communicating.
3. Devices matter – Responsive design adapts page content to suit the dimensions of the user’s device. While most web designers are mobile-first, we do recommend analyzing your audience to determine how the majority of your site traffic accesses your site.
4. Speed thrills – No one likes a slow website. As attractive as images, video and site animations can be, they’re wasted if frustrated users bounce before they can appreciate them.
5. It absolutely has to work – A user experience and design audit will always focus on one critical component – does the site work? The site should be easy to navigate and easy to read and the page elements should be easy to interact with.
How to Evaluate UX Design
There are several ways to test and evaluate the user experience your site or app provides your visitors. UX and its close cousin, user interface design, are a critical part of our web design process on new websites. We rely on many of the same principles to improve existing digital products as well.
We offer a full user experience audit that combs through your site page-by-page to combine past user behavior and current best practices to make improvements. Website usability testing costs much less than building a new website while providing the real-world feedback necessary to identify the subtle tweaks that generate positive results, such as increased conversions or longer average session duration.
Persona Strategy Development
Understanding your customer’s needs helps to shape UX design. Our research team combines in-depth market research and reams of data from your digital platforms to develop strategic components like:
- Common barriers and questions
- A hierarchy of information
- Specific customer pain-points
Understanding these barriers for each persona helps develop site structure and page design, as well as myriad other elements of your site.
The Process of Effective UX Design
UX is the process of creating products or services that provide users with meaningful and relevant experiences. If a designer makes something without an intended audience or loses sight of the audience’s needs, the user will trip over unanswered questions, slow page speeds or a confusing site structure.
Successful UX breaks down into three main processes. The first is to build empathy with the user by conducting research. The second is to ground design in users’ needs. The third is to package the product attractively for the user.
1. Conduct research to build empathy
To build empathy for your users, the natural step is to get into their shoes. Learn what their needs, aspirations, motivations, and desires are where they meet your product or service. This is where proper UX research comes in and serves as the integral foundation for successful products and services.
The most important research task is to remove bias and subjectivity so that users’ needs come to the forefront. This ensures that a design is not a skewed version of the designer’s own wants and desires. Asking the right questions is equally important and greatly determines how useful the research will become in the later stages of UX. This means not asking leading questions that coax the user into answering in a certain way. It should also avoid confirmation bias, cultural bias and any number of other biases that might interfere with finding the core needs of the user.
Think of the research process as navigating the dark waters of the user’s mind, with their motivations, needs, desires, and aspirations acting as the North Star, guiding the researcher to the essential problem they are trying to answer. The researcher acts not just as the captain but as the ship that is responsive to the user. Each time a user answers a question, there is a shift in the wind’s direction, leaving it up to the researcher to adjust the sails and stay on course.
Market research can accelerate growth.
2. Identify the users’ needs to generate ideas
The next step after UX research is to identify users’ needs and design to them. After compiling qualitative and quantitative data from long-form user interviews, intercept interviews and observational research, researchers affinitize the data – the process of organizing and grouping data in a way that sheds light on certain themes.
The funnel method is a great way to eliminate as much design bias from the process as possible, especially if conducted as a group. If you address as many facets of the user’s needs as you can with a large list of ideas, the design scope isn’t narrowed by an individual designer’s hunch of what proves to be the most salient need.
3. Evaluate ideas to create a finished product
During this final stage of UX design, the quality of an idea is determined by how well it:
- Answers the problem statement
- Benefits the user
- Follows the themes and insights that were drawn from the research
These factors can be weighed by one designer or discussed as a group. Designers are not the user, so the best way to test the quality of an idea is to prototype it and put it into usability testing with real users.
If you’re a business owner, the cost of justifying usability and experience is a sound investment. Working with an experienced UX and UI agency will ensure your brand delivers a professional and positive experience to users and improves results for your paid media, SEO and social media marketing efforts.
The average cost for UX website or application audits is much lower than starting from scratch and delivers immediate improvements to your site.
Build a Positive User Experience from the Ground Up
Oneupweb’s certified usability analysts bring experience, creativity and fresh ideas to every project. No matter where you’re at in your digital marketing efforts, we can help you take the next step. Don’t settle; it’s a great time to get in touch and move your digital brand forward.