What is UX… and does it matter?

by Anton Boshoff
Mon, 19/03/2018 - 12:08

The tech industry is filled with acronyms. And one, in particular, UX, meaning user experience, is one that seems to be attracting a lot of attention recently. UX impacts us daily – often without us noticing.

Think about it, you wouldn’t hesitate to slow down after seeing a red traffic light. Red means stop. Red also means passion, danger and power. We all subconsciously know this.

This is an example of UX in our daily lives.

Imagine you own a spa or wellness centre. What colour would you use for your logo? Very likely not red. You’d pick a calming blue or green. That’s UX.

And how would you design your website? If you’re like many people, you’d choose bright colours, flashing visuals and scrolling text. Those people are wrong. That is the exact opposite of an appealing website design. One look at that scrolling, flashing site and users will leave the page. And that’s why you need UX.

Lastly, imagine you’re running a charity. You’ve done everything you had to do: created a website, sent out marketing material and regularly make use of social media. However, you are just not receiving the donations you’d expected. Why? Someone with UX experience could help you understand the changes you need to make.

Consider the dictionary definition of user experience: “The overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or a computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.”

What does user experience have to do with conversions, you might be thinking. 

If someone wants a product or service, they’ll buy it, despite how the website looks. Wrong. User experience has everything to do with conversions. Think about it. Would you stay on a site which wasn’t well designed and too clunky to use easily? No, you wouldn’t. And you certainly wouldn’t be persuaded to sign up for a newsletter, much less purchase products or services. That’s what UX is about: improving the user’s experience on a site. That’s why it matters.

There are seven factors which describe UX, says Peter Morville, a pioneer in the fields of information architecture and user experience. These are: 

Useful: A product or service needs to fill a need. If it doesn’t do so, there’s no real need for the product to exist.
Usable: It needs to be simple and easy to use. The time taken to be able to use it should be as short and painless as possible.
Findable: Information about the product needs to be readily available. If a user has a problem they should be able to quickly find a solution.
Credible: The product and company need to be trustworthy.
Desirable: The visual aesthetics need to be attractive and easily understood. Design should be minimal.
Accessible: The product or service should give users with disabilities the same experience as others.
Valuable: The product or service must deliver value, to both the business which creates it and the person who buys and uses it.

What is UX… and does it matter?

Source: Peter Morville

You can use this honeycomb and the seven factors in a number of ways. You’re able to use it to have conversations about improvements and creating better user experiences. You’ll be able to look at your site through a new lens, one which is carefully considered, and experience the ways in which it must improve. And if you can’t improve all aspects of your website due to a lack of time or money, you’ll be able to pinpoint the most urgent need.

That’s what UX does. It pinpoints that which needs to be changed to improve the user experience, increase conversions and add to the business’s bottom line.

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