UX is often a concept that people find fluffy and lacking definition, it is something that needs to be discussed but many who are involved in the final sign off on a website will pay little attention to it.
This is all despite UX now being the most important aspect of website use. The undeniable fact is that the infiltration of smartphones and tablets has been so thorough and quick, that those who are not looking at their UX across every platform are not just missing out, but are even just shooting themselves in the foot.
For those not in the know, the official line on UX is that it represents user experience, the ways in which you customers or website users interact with your website or other digital offerings. It has been a concept that has been around for around a decade, but has only really managed to realise it’s importance in the last 5 years.
When we look back at the history of internet adoption by companies, first the most important aspect was having a website, then it was having a pretty website, then it was having a pretty website where you could sell things and now we are at a stage where websites need to look good, have the ability to sell and also be functional in use.
If a website is stunning, with backgrounds that could be displayed in galleries and buttons that look like they have been carved by masters, it won’t matter if another site can take people through their website journey more effectively. The idea is no longer that people go to a website for the sake of it, people go to a website for a task, be it to buy something or even to read a blog. The difference between the two doesn’t matter in UX, the idea is to make the journey through a site as simple and intuitive as possible for the end user.
Ultimately, people today have become more impatient, the difference in waiting for 3 seconds and 15 seconds can be enough to cost a sale or sign up. If you haven’t got it right then somebody else will have done and they will ultimately get the sale.
It goes for more than just looking at the functionality of a website from a computer screen where they will have been designed originally. The importance of these designs on mobile devices cannot be overstated. Many first interactions with your company will come from smartphones and tablets and if your product or service has sparked an interest then people will want to investigate whether or not they are next to a computer. If your site doesn’t perform well on a smartphone, they will simply look elsewhere. The same goes for the multiple different operating systems and browsers on new devices. They are constantly evolving and even if they only make small changes to the usability of your site, this could have serious ramifications for sales and interactions.
Ultimately, UX has become so important in digital strategy that it could be argued that the way a site looks should come second to the UX. Essentially the UX designers should create the foundation and basic building blocks of the website and the traditional designers should be looking at the colours on the walls. This would never happen however, as a website is more than a simple conversion funnel, it represents the personality of a company online.
At the same time, this also echo’s the importance of a good UX strategy. A website that represents the personality of your company can’t be pretty but frustrating. It needs to represent thoughtfulness in addition to good aesthetics, one without the other is an exercise in customer frustration.