What is UX and why should you hire a UX Designer?
Here’s a quick and dirty overview of what UX is and why website or mobile app owners should incorporate UX techniques into the development cycle. The article is intended for website owners, marketers and business owners who keep hearing about this vague term “UX”.
What is UX?
User Experience, or UX for short, is a practice of making your product more useable, useful, findable, credible, accessible, valuable and desirable to those who use it. If you are a UX designer for a website, as an example, your goal would be to figure out which layouts, navigation, and a slew of other elements, create the best experience for website visitors.
If your product is not useable, useful, findable, credible, accessible, valuable and desirable, users will reject it and the experience may hurt your brand, turn off potential new customers, or worse, cause you to lose current customers.
UX is so much more than all of this, though. It’s an entire field with a variety of sub-set disciplines related to making technology or a product easier for people to use. It encompasses Psychology, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) studies, Accessibility for users with disabilities, ergonomics and so much more.
The Tools UX Designers Use . . .
UX Designers utilize a variety of tools (i.e. flow charts, line drawings of web pages, charts and graphs, post-it notes, software, and web developer tools, etc.) to communicate to the web developers, engineers, marketing team, management, project managers and product owners on how things should be constructed, often with back-up evidence (like web analytics reports or results from Usability Testing) to support the design choices. When we say “design” we don’t necessarily mean how things look visually, although visual design is an important part of UX. A UX Designer’s role, however, is rooted more in the sciences than in the arts, with application of research and making decisions that are based on fact and evidence.
Areas of UX for Web Development
- Visual Design: (color choices, font styles, and general appearance of the website), does the website look like what the user expects?
- Content: Does the copy meet the needs of the users?
- Accessibility for Users with Disabilities: Are the buttons large enough, is the text large enough to read, is the contrast enough for those with visual impairments?
- Desirable: Does the website load quickly?
- Information Architechure: Is it easy for users to find what they are looking for in the navigation? Are the menu items marketing jargon or are they intuitive?
UX for Lead Generation and the Iterative Web Development/Design Process
If you are wanting to gather leads through a form on your website, a UX designer would make sure the form is easy to fill out on the devices and browsers a majority of the website visitors are using. Generally, you would run a paid advertising campaign in Google Ads or Facebook/Instagram, as an example, and when users click on your ad, it brings them to the landing page where you are able to determine what ad they came from, general demographics and other valuable data you can use to optimize your next ad campaign.
The cycles of running ads, gathering user data, adjusting the web page and repeating this process over and over again will give you valuable data to adjust artwork, the website form (Users hate filling out forms) and improving the content to fulfill the needs of the user. When you are fulfilling the needs of the user, they are more apt to fill out your form and in turn you’ll receive more leads. That is, my friends, the whole core of UX. When you can fulfill the needs of the User while at the same time accomplishing marketing goals, you’ll have a better return on your investment.
Why is UX a good idea for your website?
If you want your site to meet the needs of the audience and you want to see a greater return on your website investment, gather more leads, provide up-to-date, modern recommendations based on evidence and best industry standards, consider utilizing the skills of a UX Designer. UX Design is a long-term investment strategy, as I hinted at in the Lead Generation discussion above. Even if your budget doesn’t have the means to hire a formal UX designer, it never hurts to simply google the term “UX for beginners” and start learning tools and tricks you can use to gather user data, improve customer experiences with the types of content you have on your site.
You are Not Your User
One main premise behind UX is the idea that product owners, designers, the marketing team, and the web development team are not the intended users of the product. So, design choices, word choice, placement of buttons, should be from a User-centered perspective. In the early days of web development, designers would build a website or a User Interface based on what looked good or what the product owner believed was the best look, feel and word choice.
By adopting the notion that you, as an internal employee of the company with all of your thorough knowledge of the brand, the product and the company jargon, . . . you are not the user.
Simple UX Example
For example, what if a user landed on your website they see a button that says “IceBlaster 6000”. Is this new website visitor, a potential new customer, expected to know what an IceBlaster is? What if we relabeled the button “View Snow Blowers”. Now our new customer can click on the button and expect to see snow blowers and your new featured IceBlaster6000 as the product feature.
For more information about UX, visit UXPA’s website at www.uxpa.org.
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