Test 1… passed.
Test 593… passed.
All tests passed. Our brand new application should respond correctly to every input we can put in it. It can solve the problem we faced when we designed the app while the API can connect flawlessly with whatever might want to interact with it. We are ready to go live with our new app and show it to the world.
Somehow though, our customers don’t seem very satisfy. Conversion rates are lower than expected and people seem to be fleeing to another application that offers the same service as we do. Most reviews are 3/5 stars and rarely, 4/5.
What did we do wrong?
A drunk developer of our team looking at a competitor website then says: “I know what we failed at. Lack of user experience in our product”.
She may be drunk, but she is also right.
What is User Experience (UX)?
User experience (UX) refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human–computer interaction and product ownership.
How your clients remember your company and how do they feel about using your products are concerns of the User Experience. The greater the UX your customers perceive, the more likely they are to share/buy/promote your brand and use your services.
Disclaimer: You may have heard about User Interface (UI) as well, there is a great article that explains the difference between them. Here we will focus on UX since UI can be consider a way to improve UX, while the latter focus on a wider aspect of user interaction with our system.
UX can be as important as the product itself
Specially in markets with some players offering similar products to the same public. People can choose the more expensive website because it has a one-click-buy feature over the one that needs to do follow 8 steps to buy the same product. Maybe both brands have the same technology for a purchase but one has a better company image. Here’s where we should be able to provide the user an incredible UX for he/she to remember us.
When we design a product and evaluate what technologies are going to be used for the development of it, we might also want to think about the perks that they can provide to build a better UI, and therefore a better UX. An example of this can be using AJAX or websockets to improve perceived load time speed.
Main challenge to face while making a great UX
User’s likes are not binary.
People may like the colour black, white or yellow. They may not know what they like. This can be influenced by previous experiences (including previous UXs), geographical location, sex, religion, social and economic status, and many more factors. Reading about trends and articles that give you a good picture of what your customers may like is a nice place to begin to understand what works and what doesn’t in UX.
Although, as you would do with every piece of production code, you should test to see what really works best for your web application. There are companies like Unbounce and Optimizely that let you make A/B Testing with little coding required. With tools like those it is possible to compare which version of a site can lead to greater earnings, more subscribers.
Expedia it is said to run 1500 A/B tests in a every year. Imagine how optimized their UX is, and how they can target different audiences with well tested version of their page. As its CEO, said:
“Based on all these A/B tests, every single day, every single week, every single month, our site is getting a little bit better”
- Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO Expedia
Shipping fast is still relevant with UX in mind
“ If You’re Not Embarrassed By The First Version Of Your Product, You’ve Launched Too Late ”
- Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.
The reader might be tempted to think that before shipping code fast is not a priority when you consider UX, because of the additional research and testing it requires. This would be true if we waited to have a the perfect product every time we launched a product.
It is OK to launch a product without an excellent UX (as long as you don’t make a massive marketing campaign, in wich case you really should consider building a great UX), if this means faster earning returns for your startup, as long as your next version includes a version of your webapp that is better suited for your users.
The Web is about connecting people, not machines
“ The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.”
— Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
We should not forget that all the services we provide inside the Web are for the same people that live outside it and they behave the same. As a corollary we can say that they also pursue a great experience in the Web as they would seek it in a meal at a gourmet restaurant or while watching Rogue One, the Star Wars movie.
So next time you build something an awesome webapp, please consider the following:
Create new and rich experiences to your users rather just tools for them.