The world of digital production is fast-paced, and user experience (UX) design is often considered an add-on but not essential. Whenever you hear someone say, “we need to do UX,” then you know they are missing the point and failing their customers.
Despite acceptance of UX in principle, cost remains the main stumbling block. I suggest considering the role of good design in creating ROI if that is your concern. Why UX is not optional. Since 2005, design-led companies have outperformed the S&P by 211%, according to the Design Value Index. Apple and Disney may not be your competitors but putting good design practice into practice can pay off in the long run.
If you’re building a corporate website, it’s easy to spend 100K on UX activities. Fortunately, with some smart planning and expert guidance, you can create a UX program that can provide valuable insights that can save you money as well as increase revenue opportunities.
Apple and Disney may not be your competitors but putting good design practice into practice can pay off in the long run.
But I already know my customers
Maybe you own a business or have worked in your industry for years, and you know your customers well. How can UX possibly be of value to you? I mean, it’s just going to confirm what you already know, right?
Although validation is certainly a part of UX, a typical website or app is a complex design challenge. So, are you really willing to place your entire project on ‘gut feel’ and possibly miss the mark? assumptions alone? Besides, knowing more about your customer is never a bad thing.
For example, you might shed light on the way your site visitors navigate or the terminology they use to find information. We typically find that our clients’ products are structured based on their business structure. Researchers at Nielsen Norman Group found that by basing a website on customer mental models, they could improve task completion from 9% to 80%. That’s a huge improvement! There’s more to come.
What if the project is much larger or all the issues are unknown? Why UX is not optional. How could you know how your customers will respond to something completely new or different if you don’t understand them? What if you don’t know what customers you’re going to get or that are coming from a competitor with different expectations?
UX’s true value lies in this. It is only through spending time with humans that UX professionals find clarity. The process of inquiry, testing, and observation allows us to gain an understanding of people’s behaviour, the rational and irrational decisions they make, and how past experiences shape the way they think about the future.
Only by doing this will we be able to craft a great user experience. If it’s done right, conversions will increase, brand loyalty will increase, revenue will be maintained, and costs will not be incurred for fixes or, worst-case scenario, the wrong thing will be built.
So what exactly is UX?
There are some corners of the Internet where UX is synonymous with a nice user interface. UX is not just about making a beautiful user interface. At Stich Creative, we have expert visual designers who work with our UX team to accomplish that goal.
However, as we discovered above, UX is more about uncovering human behaviour and defining simple functionality that meets a user’s needs at the precise point when they need it. Thus, it should be an integral part of defining the product you should build, not something that can be tacked on at the end if there’s money left.
UX is more about uncovering human behaviour and defining simple functionality that meets a user’s needs at the precise point when they need it.
UX is not about user-led design
Contrary to popular belief, UX is not about designing what users want. Users usually don’t know what they want, so we don’t pay much attention to what they say. Rather than assuming they know what they’re doing, we study their behaviour and craft solutions that meet their needs. Solutions are sometimes not even products. Instead, UX teams often recommend changes to content, processes, and services.
Prior to doing any actual design or development work, UX needs to be part of the planning phase. UX can be brought into a project in many ways. Why UX is not optional. For instance, a typical program might include one or more of the following:
- Review: An analysis of where your digital assets stand in relation to competitors and design standards
- Research: Interviews, literature review, and surveys designed to gain insights into user behaviours and motivations
- User Journey & Personas: Using insights from research to define your customers behaviours and how they interact with your brand. These provide a blueprint for improvements
- Information Architecture: Organising, labelling, and structuring information with your end-users. Before validating its efficiency through task-based testing
- Workshops: Ideation, training and codesign to collaboratively define solutions
- Prototyping: Creating low-fidelity interactive designs that serve as a low-cost testing ground for new products
- User / Usability testing: Recruiting prospective users to evaluate your concept through a series of defined tasks. This can be done in-person or online.
Not all digital projects will need to go through each of these processes. The beauty of UX is that it can be uniquely tailored to suit the circumstances.
UX without blowing the budget
If you’re just testing the waters with UX, or you have a very limited budget to work with, you should still implement it in some form. UX is essentially a continuum. A modest UX program is still going to provide more value than none at all.
For example, instead of running in-person user testing, you might do it online using something simple like Zoom. You should also reconsider your sample size of participants. You don’t need to talk to 50 users from every single segment to identify potential issues. In fact, when testing anything with more than 5 participants, you will see severely diminished returns. 85% of usability problems can be found in this small sample. At Stich, we recommend testing often with less. Small groups of 3-4 participants over 2-3 rounds with design iteration in-between will gain you the most value.
It is also important not to overlook the power of the data you have already at your fingertips. Customer query logs from your customer-facing staff, for instance, can provide valuable insights into where and how big a problem is. Conducting internal workshops among your employees can also provide you with relevant information. To get an idea of best practices in your industry, you should at the very least review UX and competitor research.
The UX process does not guarantee that all user experience issues will be discovered right away. Nonetheless, you will have more evidence to guide your decision-making and avoid unnecessary costs and delays in the future.
Idea, opportunity, or problem to solve? Contact Stich Creative if you’d like to find out more.