Written by Matt Daddario | @mattdaddario
First off, what the heck is UX? And why are you telling me it’s important? You don’t know me or anything about my business!
Alright alright, slow down let’s first go into what UX is then we’ll address the question of why…
UX stands for User eXperience, and user experience is defined as the activity that encompasses all of the user’s interactions with a company and its products/services.
So by that definition, if you are serving customers, you are already providing your customers a user experience. While this obviously applies to how a customer purchases one of your products online, it also includes live human interactions; like the experience a customer at a restaurant has with the server. A user experience, whether you care about it or not, is happening!
Now I like the example of the server at the restaurant so let’s dive into that a bit deeper. If you talk to any restaurant owner you will quickly find out how much emphasis and investment they put into ensuring their staff provides customers (users) an incredible dining experience, from the ambiance of the restaurant, to the host who greets, to the server who facilitates the meal, to the free mints and post-meal wet naps. It is this experience that surrounds the core product of the meal, which makes or breaks the customer’s perception of the business and their propensity to return/recommend friends. In fact according to a recent Boston Restaurant survey that fielded responses from over 7,500 customers that dined at 1,400 restaurants, 65% of customers named service (aka user experience) the number one complaint, not food, the core product!!
So if user experiences matter so much in real-world interactions, wouldn’t that principle apply to digital experiences??
If I haven’t convinced you yet to care about UX here’s 7 reasons why I believe it is worth your consideration; especially if you do a lot of business or lead generation online.
- Digital Interfaces
Remember the waiter I was talking about earlier, the one who facilitated your meal at the restaurant and ensured you were informed about your purchase options, enjoyed the product, processed your payment, and sent you off with courteous thank you. Well for your online presence and ecommerce that waiter is your website. While this may sound daunting, the great thing about a website is that it works 24 hours a day and doesn’t even take bathroom breaks. Understanding this hopefully can help newbies to digital UX understand the importance of investing resources and research in how users interact with this critical touchpoint.
- First Impressions Matter
Would you show up to meet a potential customer dressed in sweatpants and a tank top? Would you stay up throughout the night before so that you are miserable and grumpy during the meeting? Probably not; so remember that people visiting your website for the first time judge your product and company on the same merits. 94% of first impressions are design related, and if your site is clunky or hard to navigate that will negatively impact the visitor’s perception of the quality of your product.
- Poor UX Sticks Out
Unfortunately humans tend to focus on the negative aspects of an experience, even if the majority of it was positive. People love to complain and banter about “horrible” experiences they have had with companies, just check out Yelp! Unfortunately, these bad experiences carry a heavy amount of weight, especially when you are trying to create brand ambassadors and build word of mouth advertising.
- You Care About Your Customers… Right?
Building off of point 4, when a company goes above and beyond to provide you incredible service you take notice. Same goes for when you’re calling your bank to report an unknown charge to your account and they put you on hold for 45 minutes. We all have had that feeling, even though the bank says in its automated voice recording that it cares, its action shows that it doesn’t. Same goes for customers visiting a poorly designed website or trying to navigate complicated software program. Personally I remember a time when I was buying a bike tour from a company Montreal. I tried to buy the tour through the company’s website but the payment gateway redirected me to an offsite PayPal page. Due to the confusion I had with this process I cancelled my payment from their site, had to call them to ensure I hadn’t paid, and due to all of the frustration I had endured I purchased a bike tour from one of their competitors. Take the time to test website navigation and the payment processes with real customers, because what seems obvious to you may not be to them. Empathy for your customers is the real name of the UX game and as you’ll see “playing hard” can provide major dividends.
- Investing in UX = ROI
Beyond the aesthetic and practical reasons for improving usability, there are measured financial benefits to this creating incredible user experience. To put it bluntly, every dollar invested in UX yields a return between $2 and $100. If that doesn’t get you to stop and think for a moment I don’t know what will. Did you know that a recent study conducted by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies that optimized their site for mobile saw a 10.9% increase in visitor-to-buyer conversions?
- The Top Performers Care
Another interesting macroeconomic observation (and possible investing strategy) involving the value of UX can be seen by looking at the top publically traded companies. Customer experience leaders historically and substantially outperform companies that ignore it. Top corporations understand being customer-centric is the way to win.
- The User Experience IS the Product
Let’s do one more track back to the definition of UX… it is the activity that encompasses all of the user’s interactions with a company and its products/services. Hmm… all of the interactions with a company and its products… in order for a company to provide value to a customer an interaction has to occur, it is the highway that distributes that value. What I am trying to get at is that great UX is not a frivolous, artistic luxury. It is an absolutely essential part of the core product, which literally plays a part in every point of contact between customers and your company.
UX and product are not mutually exclusive entities, they are intertwined and both need to be considered. So as you are thinking about ways to improve and grow your business in a digital world, don’t forget about your how customers fit!