The need for iterative user experience optimisation
We live in a marketing world where those who don't constantly optimise or manage their platforms (websites, apps and over-arching digital ecosystem) and paid media campaigns, can get left behind very quickly.
You can do large redesigns every 5 years but how does that stack up against an iterative approach. When was the last time you saw the Amazon website had been redesigned? Never? Well they are probably one of the most well known proponents of the iterative design philosophy. Like many other large businesses they have realised that small, continuous optimisations to their platform yields much greater results. You get the benefits of learning and building from every small iteration.
Whilst artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have come a long way over the past few years, performance marketing is still required and will always be in need of human intervention and input. Particularly when it comes to user experience (UX) and user interface design (UI).
What is User Experience?
In short, user experience encapsulates all user interactions and experiences with a business’ platform, brand, services and products. The art of a UX designer or UX strategist is to understand the user’s needs, limitations, desires and what they value most.
The ultimate goal of any business or brand is to meet the exact needs and requirements of a customer, whilst also fulfilling its own key objectives and goals. In turn, providing the user with relevant and meaningful experiences. This covers everything from when the user first enters your website or bricks and mortar store all the way through to testing your product or service.
It only takes a user 0.05 seconds to subconsciously decide if they like your platform or design or whether they do not (UK Web Host Review). 53% of users will also leave your website if a web page takes longer than 3 seconds to load (UK Web Host Review). These statistics highlight how crucial good UX can be for a business. Even if you have the best product/service or are showcasing the most competitive offer on the market, bad UX may persuade the user to shop elsewhere.
Unfortunately there is no ‘checklist” when it comes to optimising user experience. The business’ UX expertise needs to merge everything together to inform optimisations, from marketing to user interface (or interface design) and creative utilisation to insights from customer service.
What is the difference between UX and UI?
User interface (UI) is the point of interaction between a physical user and the platform. The difference between a UX designer and UI designer, is that the latter will need to ensure the platform is easy to use and intuitive. The user, at no point, should be guessing where they need to go next or fail to conduct their desired action.
A good UI designer will review, test and optimise all interaction layers which involve:
- Navigational interface
- Voice interface
- Creative and visual interface
- Touch interface
- Form-based interface
How do you know what to optimise?
Maybe we've convinced you of the benefit of optimising your platform on a regular basis. But before just picking areas to improve you first need to validate where the best opportunity for improvements lie.
Just choosing optimisations based on your instinct can be a recipe for disaster. Professional opinion will usually highlight some key areas of optimisation but then it's a case of validating the opportunities using other data sources.
What other data sources should you be looking at? It’s dependant on the platform and the users, but some some key techniques we use at cab engine are:
Checking the analytics of your platform is a great place to start as it gives you a top level view at where users may be struggling or leaving the platform.
Observing 5-8 users carrying out key tasks on your platform begins to give you context behind why you may see certain patterns in your analytics. Also speaking to real users is invaluable for being able to understand what they expect.
Heatmaps are a great quantitative data source that gives you clear indications of what your user interacts (or doesn't interact) with the most.
Capturing the sentiment of customers who are currently using the platform can be invaluable. For example, exit surveys can be set up to trigger when a user is about to leave the site.
Speaking to current customers/users who have recently interacted with your product can uncover great insight into why they purchased or what elements are the most important to them.
All of this data gives you a massive amount of insight into what is stopping your users/customers from getting to their end goal, and ultimately what is stopping your business from hitting their digital KPIs (more sales, increased user retention, etc). With so much information it can be hard to know what to do first and what is going to require the least effort and yield the best results. All of the data points need to be cross referenced to understand where the most important optimization opportunities lie. Issues that exist across multiple data points should be prioritised.
A report will be formed at the backend of any audit which will contain insights into issues and possible optimisations. These findings will be potentially stopping the platform from achieving greater results and its full potential.
Shared understanding is the fuel that will keep your team moving forward. By that we mean sharing research and insight with not just the UX team but with business managers, developers and project managers, etc. It's key that everyone is on the same page and understands why decisions are being made. It also fosters a culture of data driven decisions and avoids the “Let’s change that because I think it would be nice” attitude.
Carrying out optimisations
Constant testing and learning is crucial to the success of both a business and its platform(s). An A/B test will compare the success, quality and effectiveness of two different experiences or interfaces. This all stemmed from building a hypothesis, suggesting multi-variants/designs as possible solutions and what success will look like. One caveat to this technique is that you must have enough traffic to your platform to be able to gain statistical significance. The rule of thumb is that you need at least 1000 conversions (purchases or form submissions) to be able to carry out A/B testing on your platform.
Constructing different paths in which a user will take on a platform (website or app) to complete a particular task. In most cases, this will be a lead up or optimum route to a conversion or business goal. The user flow will begin at an entry point and highlight each relevant step or action along the way, such as a product category page, add to cart and purchase.
Building and the development of wireframes (also known as blueprints) which highlight different layouts of web pages, databases, booking systems and web forms. These wireframes aid web developers and designers by guiding their physical creation of the platform.
Signing up users to evaluate your platform, product or service by testing it through a series of exercises is one of the most common and rewarding jobs of a UX designer. It is most important to have external participants test your website due to their unbiased views and unfamiliar surroundings. Quite often the best results can come from only running the test with five users, up to 70%-80% of usability problems can be found by utilising only five participants or users (Nielson Norman Group).
A member of the UX team will also be involved in organising the information across each layer of every platform. For example, when a new website or app is in the process of being designed or developed, the UX designer will create a layout or flow to ensure a user can easily find the information they need. Another common example is the organisation of a website's navigational structure.
What projects should a UX designer be involved in?
Three key areas in which a UX designer can be most valuable towards a business is through projects which involve lead generation, customer retention, internal processes and internal systems.
The UX designer will be able to have an input from the like of providing qualitative research and design. If your platform operates any of the following in aid of capturing more leads, then a member of the UX team should almost certainly be in participation:
- User research
- Website design
- CRM and automation flows
- Landing page(s)
- Case studies
- Publication and articles
What does the future hold for User Experience testing?
UX teams are preparing for how users interact with different pieces of technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are all advancing at a spectacular rate in which businesses need to prepare for.
Tools like VisualEyes show how Artificial intelligence is already assisting UX teams and businesses by predicting users' needs and reactions based on large pools of data. With advancements in the field moving fast, it's very likely there will be an increasing amount of tools to automate the process of reviewing and optimising platforms.
Designing the most ideal AR application will require knowledge of the latest technology, trends and the hardware users will be utilising. Being able to identify the correct target audience will be key to the success of any AR app.
How to accelerate your UX projects
Over the past 18 years, Cab Engine has helped many businesses all over the world improve not only their conversion rates but also user satisfaction and engagement levels across a multitude of different platforms. If you want to know how cab engine and its team of user experience experts can help you and your brand, get in touch today and our team will be in touch to begin driving growth.