User experience matters

Build strong customer connections with great UX design

16 Dec 2020

Ever struggled to narrow your search on an eCommerce website, or given up in frustration because the checkout process involved so many steps? That’s UX in a nutshell. Done poorly, it makes a frustrating and off-putting shopping experience. Done well, it can help your business connect with customers and keep people coming back.

In the web development world, UX stands for user experience. It’s a vital part of building a new site, but it’s often glossed over and underestimated by developers and business owners. Assumptions about what customers want or need in an eCommerce experience can lead to a site that looks beautiful and works for the business – but doesn’t work for the customer. That’s why UX needs to be baked into the development process from the beginning.

Here is how it works.

Finding your target audience

The first step in UX design is identifying your target users – that is, the people who will be using your site or software when it goes live. Although it might seem that great UX design is the same for everyone, it can differ significantly depending on the audience.

Older or less tech-savvy users might need a simplified user journey, with clear instructions at every step. Younger users might prefer a site that’s responsive and easy to use on mobile. International shoppers will need clear currency conversions and shipping information. Locals may want alternative shipping options such as click-and-collect.

Once we have identified your end-users, we work to clarify their needs, goals, and challenges in using your product and, crucially, look at how user needs and wants may clash with your business goals. At this stage, you are making assumptions based on what you know about your audience. The key is to test those assumptions with real users before the product goes live.

Test and validate

The next step is to have real-life users interact with your product and give feedback about their experience. This gives you essential insight into what works and what doesn’t. Are they struggling to get started or finding it intuitive and straightforward? Are they getting tripped up at certain points on the customer journey, or is the entire UI confusing? Are any elements unnecessary or are there missing tools that your customers would like?

With this information, you and your development team can make informed decisions about the next steps. Depending on the feedback you receive, that may mean tweaking your initial design to fit, adding or removing elements, or going back to the drawing board and reworking the entire product.

It can be a time-consuming process, but if you get it right you’ll end up with a product that meets the needs of your customer base from the get-go. Get it wrong, and you may have to rework or redevelop your product in response to customer complaints, which is even more costly and time-consuming.

How UX works at Solutionists

We’ve recently started the process of applying the UX design process to rework our content management software (CMS). We gathered information from our internal team and external users to clarify what was working and what wasn’t.

The results were eye-opening:

Internal vs external feedback

We wanted to get insight into how the user experience was working for CMS users. We used a survey to get feedback from the Solutionists team first, asking them to identify the areas they think are causing most frustration for our clients.

Then, we used a similar survey to clients, asking them to identify the most frustrating elements of the system.

Comparing the results from internal staff and actual users, we found some definite similarities – and some notable differences. Some elements that our staff had flagged as issues – like the Mega Menu Builder – didn’t even appear in the list of client frustrations. On the other hand, the top issue raised by our customers – the Promotions tool – was ranked third by our staff. 

This shows that while staff insight can be useful in some contexts, it’s not necessarily an accurate reflection of the end-user experience. Our team is made up of software development experts, so their experience with the product is clearly going to be different from that of people from non-software backgrounds. 

Next steps in our UX design journey

The next stage in the redevelopment process is turning client feedback into action. Our development team will focus on reworking the challenging elements to optimise the user experience for our clients. We’ll go through another round of user feedback as we refine our CMS, and make further tweaks to make sure we’re giving our clients what they want. It’s all part of the UX design journey. 

Want to have your say about our product? Get in touch with us to share your feedback. 

author:

Solutionists

date published:

16 Dec 2020