User experience, usually known as UX, will often determine the success of a product. This is because there can be no product without a user. Whether you’re the UX designer, developer, or writer, it’s vital to center the needs of the user at every decision you make.
Some people who work in UX mistakenly believe they already know the wants/needs of their user. Now, there are certainly industry guidelines and best practice standards that are a good starting point. However, it’s been proven time and time again that user research is the best way to create an intuitive and seamless understanding of the end user experience.
The truth of the matter is that user research elevates user experience. No matter how long you’ve worked in UX, never, ever assume you know what’s best for your user without going directly to the source and testing your ideas. If you want to improve user experience, user research is a must. It will take time, strategy, and investment, but the benefits far outweigh any cost.
Examples of User Experience
UX is commonly linked with the online world. While digital user experience and mobile user experience are huge focuses in modern times, that is not the only place you find it. UX design involves industrial design, graphics, the interface, and physical interaction of a product. A common example of UX design in everyday life is going to a restaurant, especially a higher end one. Everything from the lighting, color scheme, seating arrangement, menu, and even dishware both influences and is impacted by UX.
Nowadays, competition in the market has caused there to be many different products solving the same problem. The difference between a customer choosing your product and your competition’s similar product often comes down to whoever offers the best user experience.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced a social media app update in which we’re thrown off and confused by the redesign choices. When this happens, it’s likely because the UX designers were more focused on their design getting higher engagement numbers, rather than usability. This is definitely a battle more unique to social media design, as the ways in which companies use social media versus how the everyday person uses it has changed drastically over the past five years.
How to Research Your Users
User research should be done at the start of a project, however, it doesn’t have to stop there. If possible, you should be conducting user research at every part of the project. The main user research methods used in UX are qualitative and quantitative research. It’s highly unlikely you will get quality insight into what’s working and what’s not working without going directly to the source. A good user researcher will conduct interviews and focus groups with relevant user research questions. They will employ a user experience testing plan to test their design with actual users. All types of user research should aim to give context, perspective, and help you understand how your customers perform tasks. This research will then help you utilize user experience tools to provide productive/simplified design solutions in return.
Past user research tells us that customers are drawn to UX with simplicity, usability, and visual aesthetics. It’s important to test how you achieve these against how users will use them. You may find you’re not actually solving a user problem when only focusing on those elements.
Impact of UX on Final Product/Website
User research and in turn, the UX, has a huge impact on a company’s final product or website. Both physical and digital customer experience are important to the success of a product. However, looking at current trends in technology, it’s clear the future of customer experience will rely heavily on companies’ understanding of their users’ online preferences.
When focusing on web design, we know that UX, specifically personalized customer experience, notably affects conversion rates. Speed, ease of navigation, eye-catching design, and engaging content will all get the customer to stay on your site longer. The longer they stay, the higher the chances they will buy whatever product or service you’re selling. In turn, bad UX could turn a potential customer off from your company or product forever. Gain lots of user research to guide your user experience strategy. In other words, when diving into a new project, don’t cut corners and skip the research phase!