User Experience (UX) is one of the most valuable and essential aspects of a project , but, unfortunately, it’s often regarded as one of the least important and – in some cases – it’s completely ignored.
What is user experience?
In its basic sense, user experience is how a user feels when they are interacting with something, whether it’s your website, an app or a piece of software. They could be enjoying using it, so feeling happy or excited, or they could be finding it unpleasant and feeling frustrated and confused. To create great products, you need to put the user experience front and centre of your development process.
Why is UX so important?
User experience is important because it tries to meet the needs of your users. When meeting these needs, it creates positive interactions which, in turn, will keep that user loyal to the product and, in time, the brand. To find out what your user needs takes time, though, so UX requires a lot of research and planning to focus in on what’s needed, where things need to go and what should happen when the user interacts with something. This time spent (and it needs to be done at the beginning of the project) can really help in the long run for a number of reasons.
UX helps you, others and, ultimately, your business work out the goals of the project
A large part of UX Is identification. That could be recognising the user’s needs but, on the other hand, a vital aspect is also the identification of business needs. The best way to pin this down is by simply having conversations with the right people. It could be the marketing lead to find out how they want to use the product to drive sales/brand reach, or someone in IT to work out how systems may need to talk to each other. By talking to all of these people, you gather their different perspectives for a better understanding of the overall goals of the project.
Once you’ve agreed on the goals of the product, you can then seek to identify your audience. The natural starting point is talking to your existing customers (if you have any) or people in your target audience. By communicating with your customers and finding out exactly who they are, you can then create personas to represent the real people who use your product. Creating personas is helpful because it allows you to split up your user base into different segments and prioritise them. These groups may well have different wants and needs, so you can create experiences specifically for them.
UX helps you with organising your product and creating content for it
Now that you have a better understanding of your product’s goals and users, you should then have an easier time figuring out what users are looking for when they interact with your product. This information will influence both your product structure in terms of its navigation and how content is displayed.
By understanding what your users are looking for, you can now go out and create relevant and interesting content for them in your product. Creating the right content is so important – ultimately, it’s what users are looking for. If you get this aspect right, your users won’t need to go to another site – they’ll stay on yours and hopefully come back again.
Creating the right content is only just one aspect of retention, though. What use is great content, if users can’t find it quickly and easily? Users nowadays have shorter and shorter attention spans and an ever-increasing amount of options. So catching your users’ attention quickly and getting them to the content they need without delay is a must. A simple paragraph of text may work in some instances, but buttons, icons and clever headlines can help just as much.
UX helps your bottom line
As mentioned before, UX planning at the beginning of the project can take time – but do it right and you’ll release a product that is built for the users: that means a longer shelf life and less significant change in the short term, which is a cost-effective approach in terms of limiting spend further down the line.
It also means that, as you know your users, you’ve created a product that works for both them and your business. When this happens, you get a large return on investment (ROI) on all of the time and effort that went into creating your product.