The term UX (User Experience) is being branded around, everywhere, from the boardroom to the shop floor. UX has become the buzzword of marketing departments and technical teams over the past few years.
UX design plays a huge role in everything we do and see around us, i.e. there is a reason the rear window in your car is heated, why brake lights are red, or even the reason why phone cases were invented. These are all types of UX design in real life, which over time have been refined to give the best User Experience for that product.
In recent years UX has become synonymous with websites, graphics design and computer applications, but it might surprise you that UX has been around a whole lot longer than that. Let’s look at some of the origins of UX to help us understand the importance of UX design.
What exactly is UX?
UX is defined by how a user interacts with a product, service or system. UX analysis aims to understand the behaviour, intent and desired outcome of those intended to use these products or services, to provide a more efficient and better outcome for the user.
UX is about research and strategy and definitely not about opinion or assumptions.
The origins of UX design
The term User Experience was coined in 1993 by Don Norman at Apple Computer, but it might come as a surprise that the origins of UX date back thousands of years. For centuries people have been using UX design in everything from buildings to products. Take Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese form of organising interiors to enhance the flow of energy, or in other words to improve the user experience for occupants in these interiors.
In more recent years, the large-scale adoption of UX strategies has been led by supermarkets. Have you ever wondered why when you get to the checkout you are surrounded by cheap consumable products, like snacks or batteries, or why the more expensive products are at eye level, whilst the cheap low value products are up high or down low. This isn’t by chance, as a huge amount of UX research has been conducted by supermarkets to understand the psychology of consumer behaviour. Supermarkets aim to achieve two things; increase efficiency of a user’s journey through the store, and to maximise products purchased and value of these items.
How businesses and websites can utilise UX design
Now that we understand the early beginnings of UX design we can start to think about how this is applied to businesses and their websites.
Website traffic has increased dramatically over the past two decades. It is now estimated that there are more than 5 billion internet users around the world, with more than 1.14 billion websites on the internet (Source). Let’s face it that is a crowded marketplace, with every website vying for user attention.
One of the best ways of differentiating your website from your competition is by conducting some UX research and implementing and refining a UX strategy.
Research is the fundamental basis for getting your UX right. Good UX research starts with understanding the user, who they are and what they are trying to achieve on your website. This research looks at a multitude of areas, including heatmaps to see where users are visiting on your webpage, key messaging, visibility of key products or services, CTA locations, site maps and a whole lot more.
Once you know who your users are and what they are trying to achieve, you can then work on a strategy to define the best way to give them the experience they want.
Defining a UX strategy is essentially putting a plan together for implementing change on your website, to overcome the problems highlighted during the UX research phase. A good UX strategy will develop over time and be constantly evolving as a website matures, new messages and pages are implemented, and your business grows.
Why should you adopt a UX strategy?
A good UX strategy really can change the fortunes of a business. It can take an average performing website to an industry leading one, just with some subtle changes.
UX begins with understanding your users, what makes them tick and where they come unstuck. Creating seamless user journeys which lead users to specific content, an asset or a form on a page is key to increasing conversion.
What are the benefits of implementing a UX strategy?
- Increase engagement of users
- Increase conversion rates
- Improve SEO and organic search rankings
- Reduce user dissatisfaction
- Improve website speed
- Improve website performance metrics
- Increase business revenue
- Improve customer satisfaction
Cremarc recommend UX analysis of clients site at the beginning of our journey together and at least every year thereafter. However, UX is ever present and evolving, so it should have an impact and be considered with every decision that businesses take on their websites, marketing activity and beyond.