In the software world, it isn’t enough to deliver a product that just works. From a user’s expectations, that’s pretty much a given core feature. The same could be said for the user interface – people don’t expect a barebone HTML site with just server-end code and nothing more. They want to be dazzled with animations and high-res stock photos.
Most successful companies and businesses already have a brilliantly designed product or service with accompanying qualities that not only rakes in millions, but also maintains a huge customer base? How do companies like Apple, Uber, and Airbnb do it?
What is UX?
Is it that two letter enigma developers/designers append to ‘UI/’ in their resume or LinkedIn profile that mostly no one understands?
UX or user experience (design), is a lot of things.
In car terms, if the back-end of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS is the six-cylinder engine and transmission making everything run, and user interface is the matte finish with all the leather interiors, UX is the premium feeling you get when you’re driving it. That premium feeling has a lot of factors that make or break it. A Porsche does not have that premium feeling with the leather interiors and cutting-edge design alone, but it is a major contributing factor to the overall experience.
Admit it, it wouldn’t feel as premium if it had the look of a 1995 Toyota Corolla.
UI is not UX, but good UI is a main factor to improving all-over UX. It’s the stack that users interact with.
Users don’t always know what they want, but they know what they dislike when they see it. It’s the minute things that almost always go unnoticed by developers and front-end that compound and give an all-over impression on user experience.
“Why does this home page have soooo many sign-up links?”
“Too many buttons and headers are calling my attention; I don’t know what to click or look at first.”
“Why is the sign-in/login button on the left, beside the logo? Everyone else’s is on the far right. Wait, why is there a search bar on the far right where I’m used to having the login/user account links?”
“Hey, I don’t have to go through any clickthroughs to do what I need to. This is great!”
“I hate the fact that you jingle in my pockets and cuff my phone. #notochange2016”
How do you know your UX change or improvement helped your business product?
KPI. Key performance indexes. These could be changes or increases in metrics such as
- login/sign-up data for a SaaS business model
- product sales for a product website
- premium account creations in freemium business models
- site hits / time spent by users on site
UX improvement is an iterative process that involves testing. Have other people and (if possible) users review/give feedback to your changes. Don’t be discouraged by failures/conflicting opinions. User experience is a heavily subjective field backed up by well thought-out rationale.
In product development/project management, UX should be an integral part from start to finish. We aren’t making software or products for us to use. Design and construct with the customer in mind. In the end, customers are your main source of revenue.
Good UX makes people stay for your product.
Great UX makes people bring someone else along.