When you hear “user experience” (UX), you might immediately think of website design. While you are not wrong to associate the two concepts, this illustrates a major pitfall to which some websites designers are prone – confusing UX with UI (user interface).
UX is about more than just what the user experiences while on your site. It encompasses the full customer experience, from the time the person hears about your brand to making the first purchase – and for a long time after, if you are lucky. To get users excited about your brand, you will have to think outside the site.
The Importance of Focusing on UX First
The goal of good UX is to provide a meaningful and valuable human-computer interaction, resulting in a positive experience (and ideally, sales). UX deals heavily with customers’ emotions. UX is subjective to a degree because different users will prefer different website design elements. However, there are certain universal best practices in website design that will please the majority of consumers. This is where UI takes over to create a positive UX through effective design tactics.
Designers get excited about building new websites. They go over every detail and examine every possibility. Sometimes, the real meaning of UX gets lost in the shuffle of website design. The aspects of UX that gets the user to the site can be forgotten. There are crucial aspects of UX that exist far before the first stages of website creation. If you can tap into these aspects, you can master the user experience. It all starts with grabbing customers’ attention.
First, comes UX, then comes UI – in that order
A good way to understand the relationship between the two is that UX is intangible while UI is tangible. UX is the process, the brainstorming behind the end product. UI is the stuff that turns ideas into solid realities. UX is all about strategy. It deals with data and analytics, research, visual design, and information architecture. You will not get to UI until you are physically creating the end product. One of the worst things you can do is tackle UX and UI at the same time, or worse, skip UX altogether.
Start UX Design with Research
The team in charge of UX must conduct plenty of research, surveys, and observations to identify target audiences and establish goals for the site before they can start on UI design. The way users respond to UX research will inform the rest of the website design process. The team should ask users questions during testing such as, “What types of things do you buy online?” and “What do you like the least about the checkout process?”
The research conducted during UX design will provide the data needed to attract target consumers through your UI. For example, you may learn through a survey that most of the target audience hates pop-up windows. Use this information to build the UI in a style that will appeal to desired visitors, ultimately creating a better user experience.
Attract Users Before They Visit Your Site
Do not undervalue the customer experience that goes on before they get to your site. Several critical elements of UX exist outside the container of your website. As a designer, you may feel that your job begins and ends within this container. This is not true. Good UX for a site, app, or product depends on the complete user experience. The website is just one aspect of this experience.
Marketing is a good place to start planning UX. Your marketers need to discuss how customers will hear about the new website or feature. Marketing is part of UX in that it may be the first time a customer has ever heard of or interacted with your brand. It is your chance to make a good first impression. Design marketing that complements your UI and other branding mechanisms. Marketing shapes how people will think about your brand and talk about it. Do not underestimate its impact on the overall user experience.
Another example of something that can push customers toward your brand before they see your site is the removal of barriers for customers who want to switch to your brand from the competition. Think about what might stop a competitor’s customer from buying from you. It may be something simple, like not being able to transfer data to your app. Building an element that solves this problem could result in your competitors’ customers flocking to your company instead.
Tap Into the Power of Push Notifications
Push notifications are just one example of a UX element that has almost nothing to do with the UI. They offer excellent opportunities to protect your user experience, as long as you do not abuse their power. Sending push notifications to customers can serve as friendly and useful reminders … or as irritating interruptions. The choice is yours. Push notifications require strategy to strike the perfect balance. There are several best practices to use if you want to implement this UX strategy, including:
- Save notifications for news that matters. Customers will get easily irritated if you send notifications about every little thing your company does. Instead, save the notifications for information customers will find useful. For example, United Airlines sends push notifications to flyers when their gates change – coveted information for busy travellers.
- Tailor your messages. Use customer data to send notifications about things that are relevant to each user. Netflix is a great example of this tactic in action. Instead of sending generic messages to everyone, it sends individual push notifications about shows the user has watched based on his viewing history. Make sure notifications also come at a good time for your user.
- Explain what you will notify the user about if he/she signs up for push notifications. Many users will hesitate to accept push notifications if they think you will be too trigger happy with updates. Include a small blurb about what you will use the tool for, assuring customers it will be an asset, not a nuisance.
Using push notifications wisely and creatively can provide an excellent user experience for customers, even when they are not on your site. It gives your brand a way to interact with people in an engaging, relevant way. It also puts you in the power seat – you decide when you are visible to consumers instead of waiting for them to take the bait and visit your site.
Consider Every Aspect of UX before Starting UI
There are endless ways to reach customers and provide a memorable experience before you get to UI. While UX and UI have a significant relationship, business owners should not confuse the two. Letting UX fall to the wayside because UI is the more exciting aspect of the business will not bode well in the long run. There is much more to UX than just the website or app, from consumer research to marketing tactics.
To achieve a satisfactory user experience, you must start long before you build an interface. Think about how the site or application will function, how customers will use it, and how you will generate hype for your brand before the first day of development. Skipping over the UX process can lead to wasted resources on an end product that has excellent functionality, but that does not resonate with your target audience.
UX is the foundation of your enterprise. It is the bread and butter of any website, product, feature, or application. While UI is the aspect of the item, you can see and feel, UX is the brains behind the operation. UX enables you to understand your audience on a deeper level and implement design techniques according to this information. To get users genuinely excited about your brand, you must consider the elements of UX that occur long before UI development.
This article originally appeared on Usability Geek
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