User Experience (UX) Design has been a buzz word in design for a couple of years now but has always been present and a consideration of the process when it comes to designing a website or application.
A historic misconception when designing a new web platform or mobile app was that if it looks ‘pretty’ it will ‘do it’s job’ and perform well. Not so. Fortunately we have woken up to the fact that if a website isn’t easy to use, providing a good experience to the ‘user’ it will not perform well. Customer engagement is key here.
User Interface (UI) Design and UX design must go hand to ensure that the goals of the website are optimised to their full potential ensuring maximised engagement with the user and resulting in a positive experience for them.
The Importance of UX Design
What are the goals of the website?
What do you want to achieve? Working out your goals is key when designing the User Experience for your new platform. We analyse the key goals below for a new eCommerce website….
- High Conversion Rate
- Repeat Custom / Visitors
- Low Bounce Rate
- Building a Large Audience
1. High Conversion Rate
A Conversion Rate is defined by the percentage of users (visitors) who perform a desired action. So, in the example of our eCommerce website, we want to ensure that out of the 10,000 visitors per day (for example) , we want to ensure that a large percentage of the 10k visitors are ‘converted’ or ‘perform the action’ of purchasing product(s)
Relevance of UX Design:
There are various key factors in ensuring that you maximise the percentage of conversions on your website. How many of us have picked up an item off the shelf in a store that we like the look of but put it back as we cant see a price and cant be bothered to ask the stork clerk who is busy serving customers? It happens right? If there was a price on that item, i may have not put it back, taken it to the till and bought it. Or lets just say that on my way to the till, I am stood in a long queue and then decide I don’t have time to wait and put the item back because I need to get back to work or I need to go and pick up the kids from school. We are talking a bout the ‘customer journey’ here and there are many factors that can put them off making that final purchase.
Moving back to the example of the eCommerce website, our job as UX Designer is to ensure that the route to conversion is as smooth and simple as possible. Pricing should be clear, the checkout process should be quick and not convoluted. We don’t want to lose the sale at the final hurdle! There are so many factors to consider – how the products are displayed on the page so that they are visually appealing to the potential customer whilst at the same time providing clear information about the product and a clear ‘call to action’ resulting in a sale. We as humans are fickle, we like things to be easy, and when it comes to parting with our hard earned cash we are easily put off clicking on that ‘purchase button!’
2. Repeat Custom / Visitors
Its not rocket science, if you are able to achieve a high conversion rate (as above) you will naturally want to ensure that those users make a return visit to your website resulting in potential for an additional conversion (in this example a sale of products) Other factors come into play here such as providing products which are relevant or useful to the user and within their budget but generally speaking, if they see something they like and are having a positive experience through the use of the website, they have an increased potential for conversion.
Relevance of UX Design:
Putting it simply, if a customer has had a previously positive experience on your website, they will come back. They may not have purchased a product the first time round, but the fact that they are back is great news! Switch up your content and products regularly. Something might grab their attention this time round and if the route to conversion is easy you have yourself a sale!
Try offering trials or freebies of a product (easier to do if we are talking about digital products) God knows we all love a FREEBIE right!!? Getting something for free is an instant way to put a smile on a customers face whilst at the same time giving them an insight into the quality of your products. Yes, they might not have purchased the first time round, but likelihood is that a percentage of these users (having had a good experience whilst engaging with your content) will be back ready to throw some money your way!
3. Low Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate by definition refers to the percentage of users who visit your website for a single session but who perform no further action (such as clicking on a second page) ‘I came, I saw, I went’! Let us say for example that a 100 users land on the homepage of our eCommerce website , 75 visitors see a product they like and they click on the product to see more details (taking them to a second page). 25 visitors leave having read or browsed the landing page. The Bounce Rate is therefore 25% in this example.
Relevance of UX Design:
Given that we are trying to maximise conversions (resulting in a sale of product(s) ) we want the user to be engaged or interested enough to take them away from the landing page, to a page where they are likely to perform an action resulting in a conversion (or sale) We therefore want to achieve a low bounce rate ensuring that we are maximising the number of users engaging with the content and having a positive experience using the website.
4. Building a Large Audience with Social Engagement
The larger your audience, the higher potential for conversion (or sales in this example) The goal of the website is continuously key and central to the UX design.
Relevance of UX Design:
If the User has had a good experience likelihood is that they will spread the word. Be this through word of mouth or by social engagement (through social sharing) this is undoubtedly the best source of marketing. And best of all its FREE! Bottom line is, if the UX Design is right they will have engaged with the content and will share it with their peers resulting in an ever evolving audience for your content.
All this sounds too easy, well its not! UX Design in hand with UI Design is a fine balance and will continuously evolve with the trends of your market and with ever changing technological advances of the web. We have identified some key factors below in ensuring good UX design and maximising a positive customer experience with your users. …
Key Factors of UX Design
The term User Experience (UX) is ever evolving. There was a time where we would define UX as ‘usability’ and whilst its true that the ease of use of your website is fundamental it goes hand in hand with a whole host of other factors which must be considered……
Here we must focus on the principle that if the purpose of your website is to sell products, they must be visible. If a user cannot find a product they are not going to buy it! For website with a large number of products, the search functions must be easy to use and return results relevant to the search query. At the same time the results of the search query must be presented in a way which is going to increase the chance of a user engaging with the content (either by clicking to view the product in more detail, or by direct purchase or download from this point) We are not just talking about search queries here, but rather the overall visibility of the products on your website and the likelihood that a user will find the products that they are interested in or most likely to purchase.
For example, sorting products into categories can make products more visible and therefore easier for the user to find. Lets take the example of a shop store again, this time a clothing store. Imagine walking into a store and the clothing not being organised into ‘sections’ – men’s clothes mixed in with women’s clothes, accessories dotted around the place and mixed in with shoes, lounge-wear mixed in with jumpers and jeans. It would be too chaotic. We would find it very frustrating and we would be unlikely to continue our search for a particular product we are looking to buy. The same is true for trying to find products online. We must make it easy for the user.
2. Tailored for all users
To put it simply, we cant design for everyone. We are all different and we all have individual needs. What might be appealing to one user might not be appealing or desirable to another. The purpose of this topic is to focus on your target audience and ensure that the content appeals to your market and that the website it tailored to meet the needs of your target market.
3. Useful content and products
The internet is full of useful content and products which appeal to mass market. If it’s not useful to someone, then why would they want to purchase it. If a product lacks purpose or yields a low demand it is going to struggle to compete in a market full of purposeful and useful products.
The interpretation of ‘useful’ really is down to each individual user. What might be deemed useful to one user, might not be of use to another. Focus should be on providing a range of products that will appeal to a wide audience. If you have a very niche product , the demand should be high in order to achieve high sales figures.
4. User Interface Design
Fundamentally, the User Interface (UI) of your website will determine the ‘Usability’ of the content. If the website isn’t easy to use the customer is unlikely to engage with your content and ultimately less likely to result in performing a desired action such as conversion to a sale. UI trends are continuously changing and the ‘look’ of your website will not only be personal to you, but be personalised to fit your target market. This is a huge topic but ultimately we want to ensure that the UI Design is such that the user can perform tasks and execute desired actions with ease and without over complexity.
Ensuring that your website content is ‘in demand’ or that your products or services that you are selling are ‘desirable’ will come down to how you market your overall brand and products. Desirability is conveyed in design through branding, identity , aesthetics and emotional design. Take the example of a Ferrari vs. Skoda for example. Within their own merits, both useful cars, findable and credible to the end user but Ferrari stands out as more desirable. This does not mean that a Skoda is undesirable. It simply means that given the choice, if you could have one for free you would take the Ferrari. If you have a product that is in demand or desirable they are more likely to shout about it and influence others to purchase creating desirability among their peers. A clear marketing strategy to help make your product(s) stand out within your market is a sure way to ensuring the success of your website
6. Web Architecture
You will often hear the term ‘UX Flow’ referring to the path that the user follows through your website or application. We can break these flows down into mini journeys that they user will take as they interact with your website or content. Ultimately we want the flow to lead them to making a purchase. Their ‘journey’ should be such that they navigate through the website with ease, finding useful content with equal ease resulting in a positive experience leading to conversion. The Web Architecture is an overview of your websites navigation, how the pages link together be it through menu items, button clicks or page scroll. This is another key element of the UX Design process as it will ensure that your user is taken on an easy journey to find the content they need.
Hashing out complicated flows at the design process can be made easier with ‘Wireflows’ – Looking at the top level how a user gets from one part of your website to another in the simplest way possible.
We’ve hand picked a list of Wireframe tools to help you with this process:
- Wireframe Web Icons – by Creaticca Ltd
- Wireframe.cc – A Web based platform
- UX Pin – Full stack UX Design Platform