UX – what is it and why should you care?

What is UX design and why should you care?
UX is a buzzword in the digital community but what does it stand for and more importantly, what does it really mean? UX is an abbreviation of the words user experience. It refers to the quality of a site from its user’s point of view.

UX design is an important part of putting a site together. You can plan a website with innovative content and outstanding advice or products but ultimately, if the site doesn’t look and function in an attractive way to your target audience then it will flop. If you want to prevent your users from having a brief look at your site then clicking off to a competitors site then it’s vital you take time to research, test and improve on your UX design.

You may have heard the terms ‘User Interface’ or ‘UI’ and believed them to be similar or the same as UX. This is a common mistake but one that can leave people thinking that they’ve considered their site’s user experience when they have only actually covered a small part of it. UI falls under UX but really only refers to the way the site looks. To ensure the successful functionality, longevity and relevance of a site, you need to delve further into the UX design.

If you’d count yourself as somebody who truly believes that their website is a long term investment and wants their site to excel then working alongside an experienced UX designer is an extremely smart move. UX design involves taking the entire user journey into consideration and is therefore a multidisciplinary field. Employing or contracting a UX designer to help you with your site will help you take it to the next level and increase your retention rate dramatically. They will look at your site and advise you on the entire process from acquiring and integrating products to aspects of branding, design, usability and functionality too.

To find out which designs are most effective for maximising your UX, there are plenty of tools to use. User experience testing can be called several different names:

  • UX Testing
  • usability testing
  • user testing

to name a few. Traditional UX testing involved voluntary individual test participants who were asked to use a website and carry out tasks whilst being observed. This process of watching and listening can provide a really insightful look at what does and doesn’t work on a site, and, most importantly, provides the site’s owners with the opportunity to ask the test user what they thought of the site.

Traditional usability testing can be effective but it is also time consuming and can add up to be pretty expensive, too. There a number of different methods which allow you to do the same process but a lot faster and cheaper too. One of the most popular types of UX testing is called A/B testing. It requires you to use a third-party piece of software which will help you set up two different web pages on your site. One page will be slightly different to the other. For example, the placement of a contact form or the text on a CTA. Once you’ve implemented the software, you will then be able to see whether or not changing the text / positioning / colour / size of certain elements of your site’s page has made any difference to the number of people interacting with it.

Another way to test your UX is beta testing. This allows you to roll out a near-complete product to individuals who you’ve identified are willing to trial it and provide you with critical feedback. This testing method allows you to ask users questions after they have tried the site as well as track their usage and get any file bug reports.

If you work with a UX designer, it’s likely that they will use a method called Moderated usability testing. It’s usually only done by professionals and it will give you the opportunity to obtain feedback from live users. During a moderated test, moderators are ‘live’ with test participants using the site. This can be done either in person or remotely. They will ask them to perform different tasks on the site, answer their questions, and reply to their feedback in real time. Nothing beats watching participants in real time and being able to ask probing questions about what they are doing and how they find the site.

As you can probably already tell, there is a wide spectrum of UX design support out there and if you choose to work with a designer then it’s vital that you are provided with testimonials to ensure you find the right person for your desired outcomes. When done correctly, UX design can make the difference between a good site and a truly excellent one that continually generates revenue for your business.

Have you considered talking to a professional about UX? Talk to us in the comments below.

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