Techie’s like to talk about UX a lot. Hang around in the right company for long enough and you’ll invariably hear comments about how a particular site or platform offers a great – or possibly awful – UX.
The digital age is nothing if not full of buzz words, acronyms and abbreviated phrases.
Nevertheless, when it comes to websites and similar online platforms, UX is important.
Which is why it’s worth understanding what it is.
What is UX?
Simply put, UX means User Experience.
In a business sense, of course, this is somewhat crucial. User experience is the way in which a customer interacts with a business – from customer service to the products themselves.
And it’s a vital component when it comes to web and software design.
Indeed, the Oxford Journal Interacting with Computers defines UX as:
‘The goal of UX design in business is to “improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”’
More and more the way we attract, engage, interact and indeed, do business with our clients, stems from our presence online: through our websites, mobile apps or the software we produce.
And key to success in this domain (excusing the pun), is user experience (UX).
We want our clients – our end users – to be able to interact and use the products or platforms we produce in a positive and meaningful way.
Good UX adds value to your product and your business
When using a new piece of software, visiting a site or using an App, there are a few things that we, as end-users, may wish for:
- Serves a purpose
- Solves a problem
- Easy to use
Hang on a moment.
Isn’t this just the exact same thing that all products, digital or otherwise, should be striving for?
Yes, of course it is.
The same criteria could be applied to a filing cabinet:
- Serves a purpose as it stores files
- Solves a problem because without it your files would be in a pile on the floor
- The drawers open and close and the files are neatly ordered – easy to use
- You save time finding the file you need rather than rifling through that pile on the floor – Productive!
When we talk about UX, however, we are, as a rule, referring to digital technology. The experience a client has when visiting our sites, or using our apps and software. And if the user experience hits the above criteria, if there is a sense of ease, worth and even enjoyment to be taken from their usage, that’s positive UX.
And that breeds customer satisfaction which in turn can breed loyalty.
By adding value to your client you are creating value in your own products and your business.
How do we create positive UX?
Again, while we may be talking digitally, the principles of generating positive UX differs little from the processes you undertake to produce a value-adding physical product.
- Research your market
- Know your audience
- Understand your customers’ needs
If we appreciate that UX is imperative to the success of our new software, for example, and commit to creating this as its bedrock, then the customer should be at the forefront of our mind throughout the process.
Good UX has its foundations upon the notion that the product or service is improving the life – be that personally or professionally – of the user, in some way.
And really great, long-lasting UX doesn’t just pay lip-service to the customer. It truly involves them at every step from market research to trial and real-life feedback while in development. When the product is launched, the customer should remain the focus, your product evolving to meet the needs of your market in a user-friendly format.
The design, development, and ultimately, the usage of your digital product is – as the good folk in reality TV like to say – a journey.
It might be a complex and changing journey for the developer – but it needs to be an easy and smooth one for the user.
Beyond the online experience
UX might be regarded as a digital term but it goes deeper than simply making a product or developing a site that’s easy for the customer to navigate.
Creating software, an app or a site is essentially building a platform upon which you can form a relationship between client and company.
Of course the product itself has to meet your clients’ needs in a painless, user-friendly way. But there needs to be positivity behind the product. A sense that there is something and someone there to support the product.
UX, perhaps, bridges the gap between the physical and digital. The creation of a stylish, user-oriented digital product that delivers on its promises while offering the client effective communication and support from the humans who exist beyond the ether.