If you think about the apps you use regularly, there’s a common denominator: something just makes them easy – and even pleasant – to use. It can be hard to put your finger on what it is, but it definitely has something to do with UX, the user experience. User experience isn’t something strictly exclusive to apps though, it is relevant to all products or objects, although it is strongly associated with the digital world. The user experience is sometimes confused with the user interface, the system of how information in an app is structured, navigated and interacted with. The user interface is a large part of what constitutes the user experience, but there are several other factors in play.
With different types of businesses, the user experience can vary in scope. The user experience is simply put, the experience the user gets during any interaction with your company and its different components. This includes your app, website, services or physical products. Furthermore, it can (and perhaps should) include your customer service and support, both customer-facing and office employees, your stores, offices and other tangibles, etc. But, for the sake of simplicity we’ll stick to talking about digital products right now.
It’s called the user experience for a reason
The customer journey or user journey is closely linked with the user experience and is often used in the process of designing the user experience. By mapping the situation leading up to and surrounding the use of your product you should discover the areas where the user experience needs improvement. This could be something basic, like having the search function on your website in an unconventional place, compared to other websites. It could also be something more abstract, like your app having usability issues in cold countries because you didn’t test the app with gloves on. An issue like this wouldn’t be discovered unless you consider the entire user journey for your product.
If your product is being used outside you should consider the implications, such as users wearing gloves or sunlight affecting the visibility of the screen.
There are more advantages to be gained from putting effort into the user experience. Certain UX improvements are closely related to the accessibility of a website. This means using colors and text that enhance legibility and readability, implementing informative descriptions for visual media, having a clear site structure and navigation, and much more. Just like physical places need to be accessible to everyone, websites and other digital spaces should adhere to accessibility standards.
Making a website more accessible goes hand in hand with its general usability, positively affecting the user experience. The opposite is also true – focusing on improving the user experience usually brings forth improved accessibility and usability. These tandem changes correlate with another important factor for today’s businesses – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Although most of us don’t know exactly what goes on under the hood of search engines and how they rank pages, it is clear that UX, and its aspects of usability and accessibility, play a distinct role in SEO. If you provide a good user experience that keeps visitors on your site and facilitates conversions, the search engine gods will smile upon you, and reward you for your high levels of accessibility.
Branding the experience
Consistency across the user experience affects and reflects your branding. Users have immediate reactions to how well your product fulfills their needs and meets their expectations of your brand. The emotions that the user feels when using your product are established as brand associations, so you’ll want your UX design to invoke positive emotions. Carrying over your branding, both visually and conceptually, into the UX design will further strengthen the brand associations by linking the emotions to your recognised brand. So if your app is terrible, make sure it looks nothing like your established visual identity…
Time to focus on your users?
If you’re looking to optimise your user experience, Testbirds provides testing for usability and UX. We also have our Testbirds Exclusive end-to-end testing where your digital product is tested in its intended context – so users can avoid that awkward swiping-with-their-nose when they’re wearing gloves.
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About the author
Fredrik is our International Marketing Intern, splitting time between university and our office here in Amsterdam.
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