A Beginner’s Guide to UX – The Fundamentals of User Experience

Summary: Find out how to use UX (user experience) improves your website and understand how you can start applying good UX practices today to convert more website visitors into customers.

The importance of UX in web design has never been so vital. With companies like Amazon and Google heavily investing in UX – and reaping the rewards – more and more companies are investing in UX too, with the aim of converting users (website visitors) into customers.

Is UX important?

To guarantee business success, a product or service has to be usable and enjoyable.

When designing with UX in mind, businesses can see a huge ROI (return on investment) – reducing overall business costs while increasing profits too. It’s simple, give your users a great experience and they’ll reward you with their trust and business.

In fact, research by MITX (Massachusetts Innovation and Technology eXchange) has shown that UX design can reduce inefficiencies by stopping wasted web development time by up to 50%. And the earlier you invest in UX, the better.

UX-led design has a huge impact on your customers too. In a study by Soussan Djamasbi et al. (2014), which looked at web design and the mobile user experience, revealed that when web design was optimised for mobile users there were optimal results.

The results of optimising the mobile UX included:

  • 30% increase in sales
  • 50% decrease in bounce rate
  • 70% increase in quantity of products sold

Designing without consideration of your user group, on the other hand, is bound to set you up for failure.

Forrester Research (2008) revealed that:

70% of projects fail due to lack of user acceptance – something that can be prevented with UX design.

What is UX?

To fully understand the term UX (user experience), it’s important to understand the concept of usability.

As defined in ISO 9241-11, usability is:

The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.

While usability is a crucial element to consider in UX, it by no means gives the full picture.

UX is more than usability. It takes us one step further, looking at how a person interacts with a system, product or service and their emotions and thoughts having used it.

UX is all about the overall experience – not just function and flow but how a system or product affects our senses.

According to Mike Kuniavsky, author of Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computer UX Design, there are a few key perceptions that contribute to the overall experience a user might have.

Key perceptions that contribute to UX include:

  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Emotional satisfaction
  • The quality of the relationship with the entity that created the product or service.

So, when we think of this in terms of website design, a website that delivers a great UX will typically meet all needs of the consumer, without fuss or bother on their part.

A website should also be simple and intuitive to use – but not so simplistic that it lacks elegance and sophistication.

Last, but certainly not least, it will ensure an enjoyable experience – making users want to come back again and again.

Who or What Are Users?

Understanding the term user experience is not enough to ensure stellar UX design. You’ve got to understand who your user is too – it’s not always your traditional customer.

When defining your user groups, it’s important to fully understand the characteristics and motivations of those people that will be using your service or product.

When designing a website you need to consider:

  • The demographics of your users
  • Their frequency of use of your website
  • How they’ll be accessing the website (including software, hardware and environment)
  • The norms of their website experiences

Fully understanding the wants and needs of your users will allow you to reap the largest rewards.

By gaining an in-depth understanding of your users core motivations, you can create something that will mirror user flow and meet needs in terms of features and functionality.

It’s always good to consider your users current behaviours and experiences online too – after all, you don’t want to intimidate or alienate users with new web technologies.

Ways to to get to know your users

There are many ways to get a better understanding of your users and their needs. Focus group sessions, analysis of competitor’s websites and even talking to the customers of your clients are just a few techniques you might like to consider.

Put UX into practice today.

Final Word on UX

In short UX will take your designs from guessing what may work to a more considered design – a mix of science (data) and creativity which will lead you on a path to design that excites people and encourages them to take action.

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