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UX will pay off – Understanding and Implementing Good UX

Author: Melissa McElroy Posted In: User Experience

Next up is talking about User Experience! So we’ve talked about usability in my previous blog, Usability – It’s All About the Users. It was all about ensuring that users can use an interface and find what they’re looking for, but that’s not all there is to design. The next important component is the experience, the user experience! UX is all about what a user will do and what they are persuaded to do by an interface or product.

The Real World Example
Back to my example of the Business Journal site from last time, I had a good experience on the site prior to attempting to setup my subscription. The brand is trusted and well known to me, the site was laid out well, I could find information, it wasn’t cluttered, and I was intrigued enough to continue reading (all good things, there must have been a strong information scent…). I saw an ad about a discount on the subscription. So they had me and my money…up until that whole unusable site issue we talked about, which caused them a missed conversion (aka missed revenue) and my trust in them has decreased, significantly and I will probably look elsewhere for information before attempting to sign-up with them again… Keep reading to make sure you aren’t making the same mistakes.

A simple definition
UX is how a user feels when interacting with an interface. In order for a user to have a good experience the user must trust the company/provider and experience positive emotions towards the interfaces or products while interacting with them. If we achieve this, then we will be able to persuade them to do what we want (with only GOOD intentions of course!).


What a Customer/User “Will Do”
If a site does not provide the user with an experience that adheres to what they are looking for, they will leave or be very frustrated if they have no choice but to stay. If you’re selling news articles that require a subscription, you do not want your user to go elsewhere after only utilizing the free content because of a bad experience on your site! You lost business, not because you weren’t good at delivering your product, but because of an experience that you CAN control. Let’s walk through some of the most important factors that make a good UX.

  1. Designing for the right audience
    Notice when I was talking about my example, I said that that “the brand is trusted and well known to ME”. This is very important. Someone else may not have had the same feeling and trust towards the brand because they have had different experiences with the company or maybe none at all. It is important to know your users. YOU are NOT the USER, your developers are not the user, and neither are the project stakeholders (most likely). The target audience is your user and they have different wants, needs, and experiences that need to be taken into account when designing. Target audience should be the first thing to be defined to give you an idea of their likes, dislikes, ages, gender, environments, history, etc. and also to know who you will need to engage to actually do your UX testing when you’re ready.
  1. Understanding Blocks and Drives
    Once you understand the targeted users, in order to persuade them to covert (convert doesn’t necessarily mean buy, it means completing whatever goal you have set) the next step is to understand what drives them and blocks them from completing a task. A drive is a need that motivates the user towards the objective and a block is an emotional barrier that must be overcome if a user is to be persuaded to complete the objective. Maybe they are techy, into sharing on social media, and they love reading news online, but they already have various subscriptions to different news sites. How would you persuade them to subscribe to your news site? If you can encourage and support a user’s drive and diminish a user’s block you will have a better chance in persuading them to convert.
  1. Using the Right Tools
    I don’t mean the right software or development methodology, I mean the right tools to gain trust, to evoke emotion, and persuade the user, known as PET design. The tools allow you to leverage drives and diminish blocks to complete the objective. The tools include things like:

    • Displaying certification/award logos and social proof (user ratings and reviews) to gain a user’s trust
    • Challenging the user to engage them and encourage intrinsic motivation to continue the task by playing on the user’s emotions
    • Providing a rebate, coupon, or freebie with purchase or sign-up to persuade the user. BEWARE on this one, these types of extrinsic rewards do not gain long-term loyalty.
    There are many tools you can add to your design to accomplish the PET goals, but it is important to use the RIGHT tools for your users and not to use too many! Checkout more tools from Human Factor’s PET Toolbox.

What UX is not…One word, Marketing
Marketing is creative and involves the design and generation of graphics, logos, and color palettes and ultimately making things pretty. These items are important to the experience and it’s also important to make items that are pleasing to the eye because a well-designed interface/product is a factor of trust, but that’s not the only thing that goes into a good design. I wouldn’t consider Google or Facebook beautiful, but I like them and that’s because they provide a good experience.

Designing properly for good usability and UX takes time and knowledge and companies are no longer hiring developers to go off and design and build an application and come back a few months later to deliver. Why? Because they are missing one thing…the users! All of our companies would not be here without our users and customers and they must not be forgotten. Usability and UX are key to delivering the applications and products that will sell and gain user adoption.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will be applying the concepts we’ve been discussing around Usability and UX to SharePoint Mobile interfaces.

Question and comments can be addressed directly to:

Melissa McElroy
e. melissa.mcelroy@spr.com
LinkedIn http://linkedin.com/in/melissamcelroy