UX describes the quality of a person’s interaction with a system, product or service. We have tons of daily “user experiences” – things like driving our cars, checking out at the store or microwaving a meal. User experience grew out of the disciplines of human factors/ergonomics and user-centered design – in other words, designing systems and things based on how humans actually interact with them.
Understand your users.
Who are they? And what do they want and need? You can gather this background information in a number of ways, including one-on-one interviews, surveys and focus groups. This initial research can take the form of a persona, or a representation of ideal customers, to serve as the important “voice of the user” during all phases of the project.
Decide what you want to measure.
If you can measure it, then it can be tied to ROI. Gather analytics to see how people use your site, then establish your metrics based on those analytics. Let’s say a user’s first task is to create an account with your new service. The average time to complete this task is 10 minutes and out of those who attempt, only 65% are successful. WHOA: that’s a sign you need to improve your numbers on “Time on Task” and “Success Rate.”
Analyze your competition.
Many teams will gather with stakeholders, review competitor websites and document what they like and dislike. These are great steps but now it’s time to listen to your most important audience: the user. User testing competitor sites will give you much more valuable insight than looking at websites alone. Find out what is working (and what mistakes you should avoid) so you have a head start and laser focus.
Design, test, repeat.
Wireframes help everyone connect the dots between information architecture, design and content. But those wireframes are rarely tested with users. The benefit of getting user input early is that major improvements can be made quickly – informing the next round of wireframes or visual design iterations. During the later phases of development, user testing fully functional sites is just as valuable. Watching people use your site can uncover all sorts of interesting and unforeseen scenarios. Example: A user “thinks” they’ve submitted a form, but in reality an invisible error caused the form submission to fail (ouch!). A quick design tweak and you’ve saved everyone a lot of trouble.
User experience research company The Nielsen Norman Group says that paying attention to website architecture and design will help to increase ROI for a number of categories:
For more details on how to harness the power of UX to increase engagement and revenue, download our exciting new white paper, UX Demystified.