If any question has plagued digital marketers, it’s the one of defining the concept known as “user experience.”
User experience (UX) is so confusing because the term can take on several different definitions, even within the UX community.
The concept of user experience is also used throughout many industries, including software design, website design, app design, and more.
When you combine all the UX studies that have been conducted on the subject and theories put forth, you can see how defining such a complex term like user experience could be such an undertaking.
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What is User Experience? Definition of UX
If you want to get technical, ISO 9241-210, which describes the ergonomics of human-system interaction, defines user experience as an individual’s perceptions and responses that result from using or the anticipated use of a product, service, or system.
That’s still a little confusing, is it not? This idea becomes infinitely more difficult to figure out when you realize there are components of user experience across nearly every industry.
To clear things up a bit, let’s take a specific example. User experience design, for example, employs a combination of art and science while using the many rules that have been developed after studying user behaviors during the testing process.
When delving deeper into the ISO definition of UX, you notice that the definition includes all the emotions users might feel as they interact with the product, service, or system, as well as their perceptions, responses (both physical and psychological), and behaviors.
Researchers have also included with UX the accomplishments users have engaged in both during and after use.
When put in those broad terms, you can see how complex this concept can be, and thus why it’s so hard to pin down a definition that’s simple enough for anyone to understand.
To further complicate matters, UX definitions can be found in all four corners of the web, as well as in print. This is a direct correlation to the UX communities’ efforts to agree on what UX is and how to define it. You can learn more about all the various UX definitions available by visiting All About UX.
Take number 4 on the list for example.
“Every aspect of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole. User experience design as a discipline is concerned with all the elements that together make up that interface, including layout, visual design, text, brand, sound, and interaction.”
There is a clearer definition of UX you might prefer and it can be located at the User Experience Professionals Association. This definition is more specific than the others and only includes the areas of human behavior that we can control or influence when engaging in UX design.
Peter Boersma is one expert who is attempting to shed a more transparent light on this often difficult to comprehend concept. Boersma describes UX as the primary term underneath which a number of related disciplines fall. He illustrated this idea with his T model diagram.
The T model has survived for years online and represents the most accurate assessment for the key principles that are involved in User Experience.
In addition, the T model provides a platform that allows for more in-depth study into Information Architecture, which is discussed in further detail in Nathaniel Davis’ UX Matters.
Which Skills a UX Designer Should Have?
Boersma’s T model involves six key user experience principles, which in essence describes the disciplines required to be an effective UX professional.
- Research: The individual must be able to look at data objectively while correlating the data with various user behaviors. Proper testing protocols must be utilized and testing must be ongoing so that we have the most relevant and recent data available.
- Usability: A UX professional must be in tune with how most people use products, devices, platforms, and systems. Whether they’re clicking a link or swiping right, usability is of the utmost importance when designing digital properties, and users must find them a delight to use if the product is going to be successful.
- Information Architecture: UX is about delineating information so that it’s easy to absorb and comprehend. Every user that picks up your product or uses your platform must be able to find the necessary information, read it swiftly, and comprehend all the information, even if they’re merely skimming the information instead of thoroughly reading.
- Interaction Design: This describes that elements of design that users may interact with, such as animations and clickable links, as well as hover effects. These should be easy on the eyes and a delight to use without being overbearing or data heavy. An interaction design expert will know how to create engaging designs that users love to interact with.
- Visual Design: By using shapes and various colors, UX designers can create a soothing environment that boosts enjoyment and increases the chances of a conversion. Experts in this field use color combinations and visual effects to draw users in and keep them entertained while pushing for the sale or otherwise the conversion.
- Content: A content specialist will know how to keep users educated, informed, and entertained. With the right information formatted especially for your target audience, you can keep users arriving and lingering longer, which is always great for business.
There do exist professionals who wear all of those hats to provide the ultimate UX experience. These experts are referred to as a Generalist UX.
User Experience Specialist
Other UX professionals have expertise in one of the six user experience disciplines. This means that those individuals have express knowledge of the concept described, be it content, interaction design, or any of the others, and they are therefore known as a UX Specialist.
There are also experts who are a mix between a generalist and specialist. Referred to as a hybrid UX, these individuals have a broader knowledge of all six disciplines and have deeper knowledge in at least one of them, and possibly even two.
Hybrid UX professionals tend to be the more experienced of UX experts.
If you’re talking to a UX pro, chances are he or she is one of these three types. If you’re looking to hire a UX professional to add to your staff, it’s recommended that you begin with a UX generalist, then move your way to hiring a specialist as those services are needed.
Why the Website User Experience is Important
The importance of user experience really comes through when you find yourself designing and optimizing a website that’s targeted for your audience.
If you design a website that’s ugly, hard to use, and that doesn’t help your visitors achieve their goals, they’re going to leave feeling frustrated and probably downright angry. After all, by designing an awful site, you just wasted their time.
UX, on the other hand, is about creating a digital interface that works exactly as your visitors expect. The interactions are intuitive and so well designed that users don’t even have to think. They just touch, read, scroll, and otherwise interact until they reach the conversion. That’s UX web design in a nutshell.
When it comes to web design, your visitors are your customers. Therefore, you need to be sure your website displays all the elements and offers the level of interaction that will keep your visitors always coming back for more.
Here are other concepts to think about as you design your website for maximum user experience.
If your visitors have a horrible experience on your website, they’re not going to return anytime soon. That lost lead could have become a customer. Furthermore, you’ve probably sent that customer into the arms of the competition and lost any referral business that lead may have sent your way.
If your competitors ramp-up their UX, you can bet that that lead will be lost forever.
Even if your website is more lavish than the competition’s website, and it offers far more bells and whistles, UX is more important than website features.
On the other hand, if your website wows your audience, you’ll begin to breed loyalty with just the first few site interactions. The longer you keep visitors on site with UX best practices, the more loyal your customers will become, which represents the best-case scenario for long term business success.
Then there are all those referrals you’ll receive, as loyal customers tend to make for the most vocal brand advocates.
Return on Investment and Conversion Rates
When your user experience is as effective as it could be, your rate of return is sure to rise. This essentially means that you’re putting just enough money into your business to make it a user favorite, and now you’re reaping the rewards with higher profits.
Of course, your success isn’t just measured in dollars. Improved UX can make your buyers journey more streamlined, shortening the time from lead to sale. This in turn increases the quality of your leads, as only those with strong interest will proceed to the conversion, and you’re more likely to experience more return business from happy and satisfied customers.
Conversions, however, are the most important metric a website can have, as that’s how many leads turned into actual customers. Calculate your site’s conversion rate to measure the effectiveness of your website UX and watch that figure rise as you continue to focus on providing visitors with the ultimate user experience.
Efficiency and/or Productivity
When your UX is on point, visitors can find what they’re looking for on your site much faster and more easily, contributing to fewer mistakes.
If your UX is being used to improve a business intranet, for example, keeping the processes efficient helps employees maintain the highest levels of productivity. But, even website visitors will appreciate being able to do more in less time.
Think about this in terms of ecommerce. The faster you can turn leads into customers, the more chances you’ll have each day of earning more sales.
Think of your website visitors as your customers who want easy and pleasant solutions to their problems. When your website offers those solutions in a fast and intuitive manner, they’ll be more likely to remain and linger, and return for more.
Examples of Effective User Experience Designs You Must Follow
Let’s look at a few user experience examples that can help you see how this concept plays out in real life.
This website and app strives to help you learn a new language, which usually takes years of classroom learning. The site asks three simple questions and then users are off to learn the new language of their choice.
The site is user-friendly and eye-appealing for a really good user experience. Most of all, unlike Rosetta Stone and other competitors, Duolingo doesn’t require you to select a plan, sign up, and insert credit card information in order to start speaking a different language.
Instead, the site architecture and all its inner workings are friction-less for a more improved user experience.
This app is designed to make you super productive with healthier habits. While this sounds similar to every other habit building app out there, Habitica takes productivity a bit further with gamification. Much like a video game, you create a character and list the various tasks you want to engage in (as well as any negative habits you wish to break), and your character is given experience points or has hit points taken away as you progress. You can then create rewards to give you even more incentive to continue on the path to healthier and more productive living.
By gamifying the process of productivity, Habitica has created good user experience design that makes their app a breeze and joy to use while helping to improve users’ lives.
#3 Google Maps
A recent news entry states that Google Maps is employing the use of giant virtual arrows to keep people from getting lost on busy suburban street centers. Much like the technology used in Pokemon Go, these virtual street signs and arrows will keep people from getting turned around when exiting the subway, coming out of a building and onto a busy street, or anywhere else they find themselves.
Anyone who has become frustrated with the fact that they walked a mile in the wrong direction knows that this level of UX was long overdue. Well done, Google, once again.
Areas Related to Building the User Experience
We’ve already discussed the disciplines involved with user experience, but how are these concepts applied to UX web design? Whether you’re creating a website, app, or other platform, the general concepts are the same. Let’s look at those now.
With user experience being such a complex concept, you can’t just whip up a website and hope it’ll achieve it’s goals. Every aspect of the site must be broken down and assigned to various experts.
A web designer will be tasked with usability and interaction design while you might have a content creator who focuses on the text, images, and videos displayed on your site. All of these aspects, including the coding of the site and publishing, in addition to quality checks and control, should be broken down and followed through during a process that delivers a polished final product.
In order to develop a website that your visitors will love, you need to know a lot about them. This is where it becomes important to develop a buyer persona, which is an illustration of your ideal customer. The persona can also include demographics information, their company role and responsibilities, shopping habits, likes and dislikes.
With this information under your belt, you’ll be better prepared to create a web property that your ideal customer will not only be waiting for but will find a breeze to use.
User Interface Design
This area of UX design is all about first impressions. Whether it’s a website, app, or other type of web property, visitors and users should be able to figure out quickly what they’re supposed to do.
Many dating apps have made interface design a top priority. Users aren’t asked to do much. If they like someone, swipe right. If you don’t like them, swipe left. It can’t get much simpler than that.
Keep this ease of use in mind as you focus on your own website’s user interface design.
Having pretty colors and a clean layout is only half the battle when it comes to attracting, keeping, and converting your audience.
Every element of your website needs to be created with user interaction in mind. Ideally, visitors to your site should be able to find whatever they’re looking for in just a click or two. Your animations should be easy on the eyes and streamlined so they don’t slow the site down.
Your buttons, slides, swipe buttons, and other interactive elements should be appropriately colored so they stand out, made large enough to use even on tiny screens, and simple as heck to use.
If your visitors don’t like your interactive elements or can’t find them or have trouble figuring them out, your UX will suffer and so will your bottom line.
Visitors to your website are going to decide in just a few minutes if your site is worthy of their time. If the colors are harsh or downright ugly and your layout is cluttered, visitors will bounce without a second thought.
On the other hand, if you can make use of the color wheel and other eye-appealing color combinations, you can be sure to draw your leads in and keep them engaged long until it’s time to push the conversion.
Your content strategy should be tailored toward your buyer persona. Effective UX is about delivering just the right amount of content to your audience in a way that helps them solve their goals at each stage of the buying cycle.
Whether your web visitors are at the Awareness or Decision stage, your content strategy needs to reel them in and keep them engaged for as long as it takes to make them a customer.
Your content strategy can employ web copy, blog posts, emails, paid advertisements, and others to create a web of content that traps your leads and retains them for greater UX success.
You won’t know how well your web campaigns are doing, and if your UX is on point, unless you study the data.
Google Analytics and Search Console are two platforms you should be using regularly to ass your site’s success rates. Pay attention to conversion rates, but also the time spent on site and your site’s bounce rate.
Ideally, you want pages with low bounce (which means they stick around a while), a long time spent on page, and a high conversion rate.
You’ll know your UX is improving when all of your metrics that showcase site success begin to rise in tandem.
Key Tips on How to Generate Results with User Experience – UX Principles
Want to put effective UX tips to work on your own site? Here are some tips to employ when user experience and design are the keywords of the day.
Incorporate Consistent Branding
Your leads should never have to wonder if a particular web property belongs to you or not. From your website to your emails, your app, and even your offline materials – they should all showcase your logo and utilize the same brand colors.
By creating a consistent brand image, you’ll breed customer loyalty, which in turn helps with user satisfaction and referrals.
Utilize Clear Calls to Action
Your UX could be perfect, but without calls-to-action your site visitors may not know what to do. Each page should have a CTA that allows for instant clicking and without a lot of scrolling. That means calls-to-action should be visible with bright colors and above the fold so that they’re always easy to find and click.
If you want more conversions, pay special attention to your calls-to-action for a UX boost.
Create Content for Consumers
Creating an effective digital marketing website isn’t a vanity project. Instead, every element should be created with your buyer persona in mind.
From the keywords you employ that display buyer intent to the colors you utilize that may affect your persona on a psychological level, and all your content and interactive designs, all of it should be based on lead and customer preferences.
You may not have all the answers when it comes to creating user-specific content, but that’s where proper testing comes into play.
Understand Your User Behavior with a Heatmap Tool
Looking at Google Analytics and Search Console sometimes won’t give you the full picture. This requires using other tools of the trade, much like heatmaps.
Heatmaps are visual representations of how visitors interact with your website’s content. Using thermal imaging, you can see where visitors hover their cursors, click on images, interact with animation and how far down the page they scroll.
This information can then be used to improve your site over time.