Why does User Experience matter?

Why UX is critical to building successful services and products

Put any toy in front of a child and observe: if it’s not simple to use, they will get bored and try something else.

The exact same can be said for a customer and a website. If they can’t work their way around the site, they will skip straight back to Google and try their luck elsewhere.

This is called user experience: the way that someone visiting a site attempts to navigate the page to satisfy their query. And it matters because if your toy is not simple, shiny, and an obvious satisfaction of the job they want to do, then your user will become someone else’s.

How important is user experience?

UX (as we will now call it) is not just a way to make your website successful, but a way to help it survive.

In the changing digital landscape, with digital devices spawning from various companies quicker than you can say ‘breadcrumb structure’, making sure your website responds to the needs of your user is crucial for keeping their attention. User attention has a limited span these days, what with the over-saturation of every digital market, so keeping your consumer base loyal with a website that rewards their curiosity is key.

If a customer finds the ‘add to basket’ button exactly where they expect it, making a purchase is easier and therefore a more inviting option. If they can’t find it, there’s a chance they won’t bother looking. It’s as simple as that.

As Intechnic president Andrew Kucheriavy pointed out, the most successful companies worldwide are not the ones who invented the concept of their products, but the ones who made the simplest versions. Learn the lesson of corporate giants Google, Facebook, and Apple: if your product is the easiest one to use, people will use it.

Having content that really speaks to your user is also crucial. If a customer sees their thought process reflected in the content that populates your page, they will be able to relate to your company much easier. Consumers are more likely to buy something from a seller they feel a connection with, so mirror their thoughts and buyer journeys with your content to give them a feeling of familiarity on your page, even if they are a newcomer!

Why does UX matter to the end user?

Let’s face it, none of us wants to work hard if we don’t have to. Babies will discard the toy that proves tricky, and there is a good reason why VHS died a death once DVD came on the scene.

Speed and convenience is the key here: it’s why more people browse on mobile than on desktop, and why users prefer more intuitive websites. We all approach websites with a goal in mind – typically, to make a purchase or to gain information. Rather than Sherlocking our way through a labyrinth of complex link structures, we prefer to have our needs satisfied quickly, be it by a prominent CTA button, a ‘search’ bar, or a simple menu that helps us go where we need to, fast.

Furthermore, clever UX makes your user feel like a key player in the customer-business interaction. A couple of minutes on Analytics will show you what most of your users get up to on your site, so if you pick out your best sellers/performers and put them front and centre on your landing page, your users inevitably feel a swelling in their own significance: what I want? On the front page? I must matter to this company!

From a purely surface-level perspective, who doesn’t like a pretty website? Now, that’s not to say that good user experience and a snappy design go hand-in-hand, but since 75% of users will evaluate the credibility of a website based on its aesthetic appeal, it’s certainly something to consider.

Of course, predicting what every user considers ‘pretty’ is impossible, not to mention a waste of time and money. However, take Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience into account: since users spend most of their time on other websites, you’ve got to give them something they can realistically work with, that feels familiar. Do your homework, and look at what visual design elements work for the top performers. Once you’ve cracked the code, use this as your inspiration, and combine your own brand personality with a visual template that users will find comfortable and – most importantly – usable.

When you tie together the usability of your website with its attractiveness, you’re going to get the ball well and truly rolling. Combine that with clever, interactive site content that makes your offering unique, and you’ll be onto a winning formula.

Why does UX matter to businesses?

In simple financial terms, the return on investment of UX is reported to be 9,900%.

That alone should be enough to convince anyone that UX is a worthwhile method of generating business, but let’s look further.

We all know that word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for driving business, and a website that leaves a good impression may well benefit from the ‘you should try this website I found’ phenomenon.

Next time one of your customers hears a friend complaining that it was hard to find a hotel using X, Y, or Z sites, your customer can chime in with ‘oh but I used [insert your website here] and it was so easy!’. Voila – conversion almost guaranteed.

Conversions are typically high on any company’s list of business objectives, so it stands to reason that effective UX on your website will help you achieve those targets. This, in turn, leads to happy staff, happy investors, happy bosses… you get the pictures. In short, there is little to lose in attempting to give your user the best possible experience on your website.

Staying one step ahead

By having a website that is easy to navigate, reflective of your user’s thoughts, and relevant to what they need, you will give yourself the best chance of both retaining and increasing your customer base.

The trick is to figure out where the sticking points are – what stands between a user landing on your homepage and making their way to ‘confirm purchase’ or ‘subscribe’? Looking at your website as a newcomer – or, indeed, asking a newcomer to look at it – will reveal where the user anticipates the next step to be; you just have to compare this with where the next step currently is.

After that, it’s simply a matter of making it easy for the user to follow that natural trail across your site, hopefully resulting in a conversion, subscription, or purchase.

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