You probably all know the old adage “The customer is always right” but how many times does a customer’s action on a brands website or app end up being wrong even when the customer thinks its right? This can be a big problem as a frustrated user is less likely to spend time on site if they can complete the action quicker somewhere else. Its much easier for the user to click back to the Google search results page and click the next available result. Result sale lost.
Not matter how feature packed and visually appealing your brands site is, if users can’t complete the actions you want them to in a way they want to then you have a problem. How do you solve this problem? Let me introduce you to User Experience.
What is User Experience(UX)?
First of all its not usability, though they are related UX covers a much more. Be it graphic design, accessibility, ergonomics, interaction, calls to action, layout, ease of use, ease of understanding or just plain the way users want to do things; UX has a massive influence on the way your customers interact with your digital product or service.
When someone uses a digital service its more then just transactional, its the emotional. We should not underestimate the way a person feels while interacting with your site for instance, its the emotions of frustration or joy a user might feel while using your site that can shape the actions they will take – Think complete sale or abandon basket. In fact it may even shape their overall experience of your brand and not just your website.
Its these emotions that count a lot more to a successful site then it purely looking good. A site that is a easy and a joy to use will be a lot more successful.
Lets take a short break and see what emotions this site awakes in you Lings cars (fun aside, if you strip out all the crazy visual design actually the site has some really strong elements – maybe I’ll do a full review of it one day)
How do I audit my site’s User Experience?
Before you start its important to understand the ground truth about about User Experience, ‘You are not your User’. That is to say that you need to look beyond your personal tastes, tastes of your development team, or the tastes of your senior execs! In fact the best way to audit your site is to observe people (and no, not friends, family or employees) who have never used it before.
When it comes to planning an audit you should start by looking at 5 areas of struggle, namely:
1. Efficiency – How quickly can a user perform a task on the site? Start by identifying all the tasks a user can complete (Find a product, find information, order a product, make a payment, find stock etc).
2. Ease – How easy is it for first time users to complete tasks on the site? Something that is simple to a superuser is more then likely going to be difficult for a new user. Complex forms and confusing navigation can all effect task ease
3. Effective – Can users achieve what they want from the site (or even what you want them to achieve)? If we take an eCommerce site as an example users don’t just visit to make an order, they might be looking to return a faulty item, find a related product or download a product manual to something as simple as check stock.
4. Errors – How does the site prevent user error or help users recover from errors? Forms with validation are often a massive pain point for users. Are the instructions and error messages clear and simple to understand for instance. Pay particular attention to areas that have critical actions (does the user really want to delete their whole account at this point, or just an old address?) and allow users to recover from mistakes.
5. Repeat-ability – How easy is it for a user to repeat an action on a later visit? A user might struggle through a process once, but then be deterred from doing it again. Critical if you are an online store, maybe if you have lots of 1st timer customers but low repeaters then maybe there is a part of the process that is putting them off and needs resolving.