5 Take-Aways From UX Australia 2014

No one wants to launch a bad product or service

From a financial backer to the designer, engineer to sales representative, the success of that final outcome is all that matters. So it is mind-boggling that there exists everyday things which don’t work, work badly, or in the worst case, create more work.

The global market, relative ease of access and the prospect of choice means that customers and consumers no longer endure bad products and services for long. In fact, the economy of switching providers or brands is now worth six trillion dollars worldwide. This statistic from Westpac’s Chief Experience Officer pretty much nailed what business is only starting to realise — user experience (UX) design is a big deal.

I attended the UX Australia conference recently in the heart of Sydney with two of a designer’s bare essentials — an open mind and a constant supply of coffee. The speakers were varied, the topics worthwhile and attendees friendly.

Top 5 Takeaways

1. Customers will pay more for a better experience

66% of your customer base will switch to a competitor if they are unhappy. Of those, 82% are willing to pay more for a better user experience elsewhere.

In short, 50% of your customers will walk away and pay more someplace else due to poor customer service.

To compound the problem, 13% of bad experiences will go on to tell 20 trusted connections. In the trust economy of social networks, the reach can often be in orders of magnitude larger.

2. Delight isn’t a luxury — it’s a commercial differentiator

From the perspective of a customer deciding between brands, the decision hierarchy often bypasses the given factors of functionality (does it work) and reliability (how long will it work for). Instead, choices are often made on ranks of usability (is it easy to use) and delightfulness (this feels good).

When a production budget is stretched, clients will likely trim things that are collectively known as the ‘bells and whistles’ — for example, user-testing, sound design, animations, and on-boarding. Yet unfortunately, it is on this battleground where the least amount of time and money is spent, that the crucial moment in decision-making takes place.

3. Design for a long time, not just a first time

Where most products go wrong is the emphasis on designing for the first experience to the exclusion of the repeat interaction, or in assuming they are one-and-the-same.

Accounting for the cadence (duration, intensity, repetition) of a product and designing a behaviour system around it will ensure its success and longevity.

Often a user flow walks a customer through a menu interaction, leading them to a greater interaction, and all-in-all, a session. While most designers end here, or consider the next step of repeated use, they are unlikely to think beyond to routine, the beginner-to-expert transition, and ultimately the integration into lifestyle (something you just do e.g. brushing your teeth twice daily).

4. People don’t like change, even when it’s better for them

While customers will switch towards better user experiences, forcing change onto customers (e.g. updating a product) can have adverse consequences. In relation to Google’s evolution of the cloud service, Drive, these are their steps of transition:

  • Prime users for change (something’s coming)
  • Promote the benefits of the change (why it’s happening)
  • Give transition guidance and support (active)
  • Provide help information (passive)
  • Let users switch between versions
  • Provide a feedback channel
  • Reiterate to users what you have changed

5. User experience has always been around, but now it’s a thing — a very big thing

As long as customer service has been around, so has user experience design. It goes by many names — service design, engagement design, interaction design — but at its core, it’s always been about making things work better for people.

While a UX designer may be a luxury to some, larger advertising agencies and big business are assembling UX teams ranging from 10 to 300 — most notably, banks are actively recruiting.

This news made the conference worthwhile — yes, I did come across some eye-opening stats, met interesting people and reflected on alternate processes, but it was the validation of this form of design as a key contributor to business success that truly got me excited.

And to bring it home, the closing key speaker from China revealed they produce 500,000 design graduates each year, all driven by a UX philosophy in their respective specialities.

I was one of 600 attendees, but by the end we were one greater collective seeking to make the world a better place. And there are few feelings better than that.