What the hell is UX?

You know that feeling you get when you have to scour a website for longer than 30 seconds to find what you’re looking for? That “break this laptop over my knee” feeling you get when you’re trying to pay your water bill, but you have to jump through ten confirmation screens to get there? That’s bad UX. On the flip side, think of the last time you used an interface that was particularly intuitive. The kind of digital experience that is so easy, it actually enhances your day. How did that experience make you feel about that brand or the product itself? Chances are you felt like you were in capable hands. You now trust that brand in a way that you don’t trust the brand with the terribly constructed webpage you avoid at all costs. Maybe you even mail in your water bill at this point, that’s how poorly you perceive the experience.
If you haven’t picked up on it, “UX” stands for User Experience, and the idea has existed long before the term was born. Chances are, you’re already an expert on the topic. After all, you’re a “user” yourself. We all navigate the web, probably more than we should in a day. Think of your favorite websites and mobile apps. What is it that you like and dislike about them? These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself when evaluating your own web presence. You might need to hire a web development company to build the skeleton of your webpage, but you can provide a lot of meaningful input on the direction of your web presence based on your own experiences in the digital realm.
So what goes into “good” UX design? Like all design, this can be subjective, but there are some agreed upon fundamentals surrounding a “good” web experience.

  • Is it easy? Don’t make your users think too much. This is likely the supreme UX principle that you’ll see in any article or post about UX design. Think of your user’s end goal and how to make the clearest path to achieving that goal. How many steps need to be involved? How much redirecting is absolutely necessary to facilitate that function?
  • Is it intuitive? Focus on your navigation scheme and your sitemap (do you need that many subpages? Does that subpage need a subpage?). The bottom line here is does it make sense?
  • Is it engaging? Create copy and a navigation flow that keeps your users around. Don’t waste space and bog down your homepage with ineffective, placeholder copy. This is the opposite of engaging and comes across as daunting for first-time users.
  • Is it satisfying? Let’s get touchy feely. In the end, UX design is really about how your users feel, so ask yourself if this experience truly satisfies your users’ emotional needs.

This is a new trend for most businesses, a shift in the way that we view the formation and evaluation of how effective our presence on the web truly is. For many, it’s been a “set it and forget it” attitude when it comes to creating a website and/or mobile app. So where do you start? A cost-effective starting point is to use the resources already available to you. Round up your team and have them dig deep into your current interface, both web and mobile. Hold a brainstorming session to compare notes and review the UX principles we mentioned above. From here you’ll have a much better idea of what your true pain points are and where to spend your resources most effectively (other than on treats for your gracious staff that is helping you evaluate your webpage).
If you’re interested in taking your UX game to the next level, there are a growing number of refined UX research methods to consider. There are more time-consuming and and expensive options, like user interviews and user research, and also less in-depth, more expedited options like usability testing and card-sorting exercises. Regardless of which avenue you take, UX research pays for itself over and over again by securing a return on the website you’ve likely spent a great deal of time, energy, and money to create.
Confused still? Well, just email or call us. That is what we are here for.

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