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5 Steps to greater UX

In this article I will give a quick overview of how to spot UX problems in your product and fix them quickly and effectively.

UX — what’s it all about?

Let’s imagine — you have launched your product and are quite happy with it. And then suddenly you hear everyone talk about UX, which gets you wondering: what is UX? Do I need it? How can I get it fast?

In short, UX stands for user experience and if you have a product, then yes, your users certainly have some kind of experience interacting with it. Does it have to be good? Your choice. But if you want to succeed then it’d better be.

Getting started — uncovering the issues

First of all, you need to have a clear understanding of what your product’s or website’s purpose is. Is it a place for people to get information? Is it where they can buy stuff?

Depending on the answer you can establish performance metrics (ideally, you have done that before launching).

Now ask yourself: is the current performance measuring up to the set KPIs? This is where you turn to analytics. Analytics would give you a lot to work with — usually you will see where the users are falling off or not behaving as expected. At this point the most important thing is to pick the right metric to watch, otherwise you may be fixing what isn’t broken.

While analytics can give you an idea of where things are going wrong, you still need to find out ‘why’ it is happening. The best way is to invite a few users — 5 would be enough — and watch them use your website. There is a proper way to do user testing and I am not going to dwell on this here. But in short you need to come up with the most common tasks people do on your website and without asking leading questions or interrupting let the participants use the website.

Making sense of your findings

Observing your users and listening to them ‘thinking out loud’ will give you a lot of insight. Be careful in picking participants, though. They should be representative of your target customers, while being diverse enough.

Now it’s time to make sense of your findings. Usability testing would give you answers to the questions that emerged from the data analysis.

The best recipe for creating great UX is setting clear goals in the beginning, communicating with your users throughout the process and making decisions based on solid research.

Different products call for different level of expertise. Ideally, you should have an Interaction Designer on your team, who is overseeing user experience. If this is not feasible, start with educating yourself and your team about user experience by simply reading books and articles.

Fixing the issues

You might have seen your users struggling during usability testing — this is usually a powerful incentive for changes. To fix the problem you need to figure out ‘why’ things are going wrong. Maybe people can’t find what they are looking for- then it is an Information Architecture problem and you need to reconsider your labelling and navigation, or even the whole site structure.

If people are abandoning your shopping cart, it could be because they get distracted or the process is too complicated. Those things are very individual and require not only common sense but also research.

At this stage you need to be careful. Listen to your users but always check whether the new solution is actually solving the problem.

Prioritizing and testing your hypothesis

Now that you have a list of issues to fix along with possible solutions, you need to prioritize. The most efficient way is using a 2x2 matrix. There are several variations of the matrix, use whichever you are most comfortable with. Generally, quick wins would be a good place to start.

Action Priority Matrix courtesy mindtools.com

Before setting your mind on any changes, though, test your hypothesis. Again, depending on the problems you have uncovered, you may use various techniques. But assuming you have done your research and came up with good ideas, you should go through another round of usability testing. No need to implement everything in real life — prototypes will work just fine, especially if the changes are fundamental.

And finally, did it work?

When the changes are done, you need to go back to the goals you have set. It’s time to dig into analytics and check the metrics. Spotting the changes should be easy since you know what you are looking for.

One quick tip about the metrics to watch — for any app or product metrics to watch will be changing over time — therefore, be careful in setting goals and working with analytics.

To wrap it up, user experience is crucial for your success. So why not offer your users a great one?

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