Below is a cross-post from my Alpha Tree Marketing website. While it’s intended for a small business audience, I strongly believe everything in this piece also applies to bloggers as well. All bloggers have “customers”, even if not in the traditional sense. Our customers are readers and potentially brands that are looking to work with us. As a blogger (like a small business), if you’re not thinking about UX, you’re missing out as well.
What do you think of when you hear the term “user experience” (abbreviated as “UX”)? I see a lot of small business owners’ eyes glaze over when I start to talk about the importance of user experience when it comes to their site or app. I get it – many small business owners don’t feel you have the time (or budget) to focus too much on UX, but that assumption really could be costing you customers.
What Does User Experience Encompass?
For this, I default to good ‘ole Wikipedia for a definition:
User experience (UX or UE) involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature because it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing circumstances and new innovations.
Woah, wait a minute. What’s all that mean? Emotions? Human-computer interaction?
User Experience Doesn’t Have to Be Mystical
Intelligent UX design doesn’t have to be some mystical term that really doesn’t make much sense to you as a business. What user experience really comes down to at its core is that the user visiting your website should be considered in all aspects of your site’s design and build.
“What would a user think about this?” should run through your mind at all times.
As small business owners, we often focus on the sale as the primary goal – which it often is. But, as many of us have discovered, there are less short cuts available to sales, especially online, than we’d like and a poorly executed experience can mean the death of the sale. The best way to make a sale is to make it easy on the user. Provide the user of your site or app with a pleasant experience and you’re already half way there. Provide the user with a confusing, convoluted or frustrating experience and you’ve just lost yourself a customer.
So How Do I Improve My Site’s User Experience?
Let me explain: discovery is one of the first phases of a successful project (any project, not just websites and apps). Discovery is the part of the project where research is conducted to determine what the project is all about. What should the final product accomplish? Who is the intended audience? Who are typical users of the product? What are key tasks they will want to perform? What will we use to measure success and how those measurements (key performance indicators – KPI’s) align with business goals. In my humble opinion, discovery should account for a solid 30% of a project’s time and budget. The idea is to know what you’re going to build before you build it so that you have a clearly defined goal in front of you.
Again, this may sound like stuff meant just for big businesses, but it’s not. Discovery should happen even on the smallest of projects – just on a smaller scale.
“What if I already have a completed site? Do I have to start over?”
The short answer: “Maybe”. A good first step would be to have a comprehensive site audit performed by a UX professional. Determine what is positive about the website or app and what needs improvement. Compare those aspects against your business goals and prioritize any changes based on your goals and budget. It’s ok to make incremental changes if that’s all you have the budget for. Of course, if funds allow, a complete site re-design may be in order as well.
Summing It All Up
Website or mobile app user experience (UX) isn’t just for big business. Even small businesses should consider it when building or re-designing their site.
User Experience design is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your visitor (customer). What would their impression of your site be? Is your site easy to navigate? Can they readily find what they’re looking for? Is your site overly-aggressive in pushing them into your calls to action (CTA)? On the flip side, are your calls to action nonexistent or difficult to find?
Consulting with a UX professional may be necessary in order to truly capture and define what your site or app’s desired experience should be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s far better to get it right the first time because we only get one chance to make a first impression!