Today, user experience(UX) is one of the trendiest topics in the industry. This is a term that some of you might have heard frequently. If you are not in the design industry, you may not be familiar with the nuances of User Experience and how it can impact and influence your business.
Although, in the existing scenario, UX is one of the most in-demand disciplines, however, this field has always been around since the 1990s. With the rapid proliferation of smart devices, today it plays a significant role in our lives. The user experience is much more than just “making things look good.”
UX is a process of designing products (digital or physical) that your customers find useful, easy to use and delightful to interact with. It is about enhancing the experience that users have while interacting with your product and ensuring that they find value in what you are providing.
A good user experience is clearly good for business. According to a study by Forester, companies who invest in UX, see a lower cost of customer acquisition, lower support cost, increased customer retention and increased market share. When compared to their peers, the top 10 companies leading in customer experience outperformed the S&P index with close to triple the returns. The research also shows that, on an average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of a whopping 9,900 percent.
User experience contributes to many success stories. Jeff Bezos invested 100 times more in user experience rather than advertising, during the inception of Amazon. Tom Proulx, co-founder of Intuit, was one of the pioneers of usability testing, putting emphasis on ease of use in his products. Mike Gebbia of Airbnb gives credit to UX for taking the company to $10 billion.
What exactly makes UX-focused companies successful? Well, let’s just say that they:
Understand design is more than just aesthetics
When companies say their product is user-centric, they are not referring it to be just attractive and visually appealing. Companies which follow UX philosophy give as much weightage to the physical look and feel of the product, as it is with usability and user satisfaction.
For instance, if you had to study a manual on how to use the iPhone for the first time, it would not be a good experience, no matter how splendid the phone looks or seamless the touch might be. When a product is not easy to use, it is a bad design. Experience is an essential flavour which turns a good design into a great one. Innovation and aesthetics alone can never make a product successful — only when it is user-friendly, you are welcome aboard.
Sell experiences, not just the product
When you buy a BMW or an iPhone, you are not just buying a car or a phone; you are buying an identity and joining the ‘platinum’ club. The customer receives higher value by buying the product and eventually, the brand becomes the customer’s identity. Canvassing the journey of how a product will be used and create profound experiences beyond the product is what ensures customer satisfaction.
Make UX the company motto
Any design-oriented company puts high emphasis on strategy, research, prototyping, feedback, aesthetics and still ends up with experiences which doesn’t work. On the contrary, companies like Apple, Nike, Google and IBM manage to consistently deliver great product experiences. So, how do they manage to do that? In the grand scheme of things, the secret sauce which makes a product successful is when the entire company focuses on user experience. The UX culture is something for which people do not need a certification or a degree. It is a practice and a way of seeing things that make everyone responsible to think about the user. The best part is, you need not step out of your primary role in order to contribute to UX.
For instance, a software developer can think about optimizing the loading time, using subtle animations, displaying loaders and response indicators wherever needed. A business analyst can ensure that the metrics for evaluating features is focused more on the users instead of the revenue model. Of course, all these are the responsibilities of a UX designer, but when the organization is structured in a way that it supports UX, great experiences are developed.
Involve the designers till the very end
In a typical project lifecycle, the designers are involved during the inception and development phase until the designs are delivered. After this, the designer is bade farewell and all the decisions related to experience and designs are taken up by the business.
Believe in research, not opinions
As a UX designer, we generally see products that are underperforming because they were designed without the end user in mind. These products are a result of situations where executives (who think they know their users) typically make the important decisions. As a result, the product is designed for the executives and not for the customers.
UX must be managed by numbers and decisions must be based on research, data and facts. It’s never just an opinion. The first step toward improving the UX and reaping the business benefits is to conduct a usability assessment of the product. This process uncovers the most common problems, thereby helping the designer visualize the pain points in the journey.
To quote a cliché, the difference between “try” and “triumph” is that little extra “umph!” It is important for each stakeholder to peel off the facade, understand the foundation and become actively involved in UX decisions.