The Entrepreneur's Guide to User Experience Design

Posted: 2020-04-19

Author: Alexson Abel

Job Title: Copywriter


What is it?

Imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up late because your alarm, for some mysterious reason, didn’t go off when you wanted it to. Now that you’re late and you push yourself to the shower only to find that the water is freezing cold and you’re not exactly in the mood for a test of will. You try to brush your teeth, but the expensive foreign toothpaste you bought last week tastes like coal and lemon water. Annoyed and frustrated, you put on your brand new suit to go to work, only to realise that it feels like wearing an allergic reaction.

What you’ve just had is a bad experience. Had someone designed your morning beforehand, this would be considered a bad User Experience, and we’re certain that you would be adamant about never using that designer’s service ever again.

User Experience Design (UX design) was a term coined by American Cognitive Science Researcher and Professor, Don Norman in around 2005. It is a phenomenon that has been widely acknowledged by companies as the average user has more and more influence on the state of the digital market. The term covers many practices and is, therefore, understood in many different ways. It has become so increasingly tricky to explain definitively, that there are more than 27 different definitions of User Experience from credible sources.

  • “All the aspects of how people use an interactive product: the way it feels in their hands, how well they understand how it works, how they feel about it while they’re using it, how well it serves their purposes, and how well it fits into the entire context in which they are using it.” - Alben (1996)
  • “User experience = Convenience + Design – Cost.” - Nyman 2005
  • “All aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The first requirement for exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. [...] To achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.” - Neilsen-Norman Group
  • “An activity of encounter by a computer user with the auditory and visual presentation of a collection of computer programs.” - Microsoft

UX design is a broad concept, able to cover many practices and factors of service. So, organisations are unable to completely agree on one definition. However, if you look closely enough, you’ll realise that they all pretty much encompass the same idea.

Considering this, we can understand that, in a general sense, User Experience design is the overall development of a service that considers the target user as it’s determining drive.

In a world that is dependent on technology, companies are understanding that the average consumers are relying more on internet-based services. With 87% of shopping being done online in the UK alone, businesses are compelled to optimise their online services to best suit their users.

Since User Experience can be applied to many different aspects of business, we will be talking about it strictly from a digital perspective.

In this blog, we will elaborate on the fundamentals of UX and UX design and explain why it is so important for businesses to revolve their online platforms around it. We’ll also explain how it can be incorporated into User Interface Design (UI design) and overall Web Development. But, don’t worry, we’ll refrain from using too much tech jargon. We’ll try to use real people words.

So, why is it so important?

A report presented by econsultancy.com showed that 73% of companies that are not conducting User Experience testing are expected to do so within the next 12 months.

To stay ahead of the competition, companies are implementing UX designs to their online interfaces to ensure that their customers are streamlined to their services or product.

When considering the customers on your online platform, the most important metric to consider is conversion. This is what measures the number of leads a website has that turn into customers. It is the defining indicator of whether you are doing the best thing to adhere to your user’s experience. Once we can create the best possible experience for your target users, you will see a significant rise in your conversion rate.

Properly implemented UX design will streamline your customer’s course towards your product or service. This will not only increase the rate of your conversion, but it will also shorten its time. So, the sooner your customers are satisfied, the more likely they will linger around on your website for other things.

Here’s where companies go wrong today

Creating a service or product and a platform is no longer enough to keep a dedicated user base. A company has to understand its target audience. When you do so, you’re able to optimise the interface of your website or application to best suit that targets audience. Consider things like the user demographic and the user needs and goals. This is an essential part of User Experience design.

(As a web development service, DigiDrip shares this process with their clients, helping them conduct research and create customer personas that will be used to test and evaluate the efficiency of the website or application.) (More on this below.)

Companies with bad User Experience design are falling behind

A study by Bain & Company showed that 80% of companies questioned believed that their company delivered superior customer service. When the customers were asked the same question, only 8% agreed with them.

Without careful consideration of your customer or user base, you are guaranteed to lose out on a significant amount of your financial gain. It is imperative that a company considers its users’ experience as its main priority when creating an online platform.

How is it done?

UX design covers a multitude of different factors. In order for a company to effectively implement good UX design on its online platform, they must consider all of the disciplines required to do so.

The secret to designing a great User Experience is designing a good User Experience, and the secret to designing a good User Experience is designing one that’s not bad. Once you understand how to appeal to your target users, you will not only be able to implement a good UX design, but you will be a step closer to implementing a great UX design. Your users will be excited to revisit your websites and applications.

UX vs UI

Before we go any further, let’s make a quick distinction:

User Experience Design is NOT the same as User Interface Design.

This is an easy thing for people to mix up, and often, employers will run on the notion that the requirements of either title are enough to execute either job. This is mostly because UI design implements so many aspects of UX design.

A platform cannot have a good UI design without a good UX design. However, good UX design is independent of digital context. Although we are talking about UX design within the digital context, UX design can apply to any type of product or service.

In other words:

  • User Interface Design encompasses the production of the online platform; the implementation of Visual Design, Interaction Design, and the computer code required for the development.
  • User Experience Design focuses on the overall experience that the user has when interacting with any product or service.

Think of UI design as the building of a house and UX design as the blueprint and the paint. Now you can walk into a house that not only makes you feel great but also looks pretty!

Now that we’re clear…

Let’s talk about Usability

Say you intend to build a website to advertise and sell your company products. You would like your online users to be able to browse through your products, receive the information of each product, and decide if they would like to make a purchase, all with relative ease. For this to be a seamless process, you must consider your website’s usability.

Usability is one of the key attributes to consider when designing your platform. If your customers are unable to navigate through your site and fulfil their purpose easily, they will most likely just go to another site (Note number 12 in the infographic). So, what do you need to consider?

Well, there are generally 5 components to consider:

Accessibility

Your user needs to be able to easily navigate through your platform. Are your buttons noticeable? Do your links all lead to where they’re supposed to? Is your copy easy to read? A lack of any of these factors will cost your site greatly.

Learnability (Heuristics)

How easy is it to navigate through your site? Will it take longer than a few seconds for users to figure it out? Because that’s how long it takes for them to get frustrated when they can’t. By then they will already be back to the Google page looking for a new site.

Memorability

If your users are to come back to your site, will they be able to remember the process that allowed them to complete their goal the last time? Nobody wants to come back to a website only to relearn how to use it.

When implementing your User Interface Design, think of the user. Don’t try to get cute. It shouldn’t be a chore to visit your site.

Reliability

If you have not established your platform and don’t have an army of customers that are loyal to your brand, your service being unavailable will mean that people’s business will be unavailable. Your links should never be broken, your site should always load quickly, and your news should always be up-to-date.

Pleasurability

How does it feel to use your website? Are your users excited about the product that you’re offering? Does your site or app look pretty? Is your copywriting engaging? It’s imperative that your users feel excited when coming back to your site. With solid content, you will be able to keep your users engaged and entertained while providing them service.

Once you’re able to consider and understand these components, you’ll be better equipped to implement them on your online platform.

How do you implement them?

To understand how we can implement these factors of UX design, let’s go over the application of some essential techniques: Wireframing, creating user personas, prototyping, and testing.

When implemented well, a company will be able to assess the improvement of its site metrics (This can be done using web analytics tools such as Google Analytics.) and create further improvements based on the data that they’ve collected.

Let’s elaborate.

Wireframing:

To understand how the layout of your Interface will function, creating a wireframe is essential. You must create a visual representation of your User Interface so that you’re able to evaluate its functionality. This can be done with simply a pen and a paper or by using a UX design tool such as Adobe XD, Lucidchart, Framer, etc.

With this technique, the designers will be able to communicate their ideas with everyone involved in the development of the website or application. You will be able to plan out your content according to who your audience will be.

Wireframes should remain clear and simple. So, it’s important that you don’t get too caught up in the specific details of what colours you would like and how much spacing you would want in between your characters.

User Personas:

The representation of your general user base. You will need to understand your user’s motivations and purpose. Consider the demographic that you are selling your product to . It would also be helpful if you evaluate the interactions of users on social media; you may be able to create a profile of the type of person that will be using your platform.

When you create your user persona, you must always consider the following:

  • Your user’s intentions: What is the service that they are looking for and what are you trying to provide?
  • Your user-demographic: Are you catering to adults? Young adults? Females? Males? People with dogs? People with cats? People, who hate animals? (We don’t recommend that last one.)
  • Write a short bio considering all of the attributes mentioned to describe your user.
  • Your user’s technical ability: How technologically competent are you expecting your users to be? Are they tech-savvy or do they still use flip-phones?
Prototyping:

Once the designer has a good grasp of their user persona and how they would like the site to function for them, they will be able to create aspects of a website to test its functionality. This will usually be achieved in the form of a UX design tool like the ones mentioned earlier.

The designer will be able to create a mock-up of specific functions that they will test. The mock-up could be of one specific function, for instance, a button to place an item into a basket, or the mock-up could be of the entire user interface in order to test the functionality of a transaction.

Creating a prototype of your User Interface enables you to evaluate the usability of your platform. You will be able to use your user personas to analyse how useful it will be to them.

Finally…

The process of UX design is dynamic and it will take time for a design to reach its optimal efficiency. It will require constant analysis of your user activity so that you’re able to apply what you’ve learnt into an iteration process (You can reevaluate and improve on your design).

Although it may take a long time to perfect, with the use of web analytics tools, you will see improvements in your site metrics with every iteration of your UX design.

The DigiDrip staff are developers who constantly integrate UX design into their development process. When pursuing projects, they always maintain contact with their clients so that they maintain a clear idea of who the development of the web platform will be centred around. They include the client within the process of the UX design so that the client will always have a clear idea of what the post-development product will look like.

Building an online platform can be tricky, but once you understand your target audience, you will be able to apply effective principles toward building a platform to cater to them.

Once you consider the components of your site’s usability and all the techniques used to implement them, with dedicated research, your site will show conversions worthy of an established brand!

This is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding User Experience in web design. Digidrip provides a service that encompasses all of these factors when creating online platforms for our clients, making sure that they receive the most out of their investment towards their platform. If you would like to create one, and desire consultancy or expertise, you can contact us and start a conversation about what you aim to do.

Like what you've just read? - Why not reach out to us, to see what we can offer you.

Alexson Abel

Alexson Abel

Copywriter