User experience

User experience
18th May 2020

A well-designed user experience (UX) can be the difference between a customer choosing your business over a competitor’s. But what exactly is UX and how can your business optimise its digital offering?

There’s something very satisfying when things just work. From start to finish, every step is effortless, so as a user you’re blissfully unaware of any touchpoint because it’s seamless. It could be buying a new car or simply booking a hotel online. You feel happy and positive about the brand because the whole customer journey has been designed, engineered even, to make you feel this way. Organisations that are customer centric and have a well-considered user experience across all of their touchpoints stand to benefit from building customer loyalty and driving conversions.

What is user experience?

Let’s take the experience of someone buying a new car for example. A potential customer will initially search for a dealership on Google, the website with the most effective SEO will rank highest in the search results and the user will most likely navigate to that site. They’ll then browse the website, find something they like and look to book a test drive, through a well-placed call to action (CTA).

This digitally-savvy car dealership understands omnichannel marketing, and an email lands in the user’s inbox with confirmation of their test drive and directions to find the dealership.  They arrive at the dealership greeted by a smart suited employee who offers them a drink of their choice whilst they wait. By the time they are getting into the car they’re relaxed, excited about the drive ahead. The customer is happy already, and that’s not a coincidence.

They take the car for a short drive and the car exceeds their expectations. As with most big purchases, the user goes away to think, before making a decision. A short time later, they receive another email or text message with all the key information about the car, the finance options and how to take the next steps if they wish to purchase.  The customer is left happy and is more likely to purchase, return again or recommend the dealership to a friend or family member. The user has been supported throughout by an excellent user experience – both digitally through the dealership website and email and offline through the physical experience. Meanwhile, the car dealership’s marketing team have gathered important information about this new customer and how to best fine-tune the rest of their customer journey to encourage conversion. If the dealership is using a sophisticated website platform like Sitecore, they’ll be able to set up personalisation rules and workflows to keep this new user engaged through to purchase and then to become an advocate for the dealership.

User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The website, the employees, the product, the support. User experience comes as a package. As Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience” once said “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences.”

UX – Much more than usability

By Don Norman’s definition, user experience is all-encompassing, and we are privy to its successes and failures every day. However, the definition of ‘user experience’ or ‘UX’ that you are probably more likely to be aware of, is associated with the digital design discipline. UX design involves designing a website, app or piece of software so that its user has a positive experience and is able to navigate to their outcome with ease.

Ideally, a user experience will be devoid of frustration. A user should be able to navigate through the digital platform effortlessly – working out what they should do to get where they want. Thinking back to our example of someone looking for a new car. If the website user had failed to find the car they were looking for due to a poor search function. Or the CTA to book a test drive wasn’t clear, that customer’s journey with that specific dealership may have come to an end.

User experience is extremely important for ambitious enterprises. Meaningful user experience should allow a business to define a customer’s journey towards a product or end goal. The experience the user has on the platform should fulfil their needs. When a user’s needs are fulfilled, they are happy and become loyal to a product or brand.

However, when a customer has an unsatisfying user experience – they’re less likely to return. They take their money and loyalty to another brand where their needs will be satisfied. Fair enough? Yes. And that is the reason why user experience is so important to get right. As a brand, a retailer or a digital entity, if your customers aren’t having their needs met, they will find fulfilment elsewhere. In a world abundant with alternatives literally at their fingertips, they might just end up with your competitor. Organisations that want to achieve a competitive advantage must keep user experience at the forefront of their minds when planning their digital strategy.

What makes a good user experience?

Understanding the context behind why user experience is so important is the first step to success. Once you have your head around why you need to provide a good user experience for your customers, it makes the next stage easier.

Achieving good UX must be approached in a methodical way. Let’s take the example of a website. For a website UX to be successful, the platform must satisfy the user’s basic needs first and foremost, before it can attempt to satisfy higher level, non-essential needs.

In terms of processes, a UX designer must understand the context in which the website needs to be used primarily – what is its function. Once decided, the designer can then begin to specify user requirements, making sure that a user can navigate quickly and easily to the thing they want to view or do. It is only after these first two aspects are achieved then work on the aesthetic of the website can begin. After all, a stylish design may look nice, but if it hinders the UX it is pointless. It’s really important that great UX design works seamlessly within the context the website needs to be used and satisfy the user’s requirements.

Once the basic needs of the user are satisfied, a UX designer can then begin to work through design solutions that will enhance the UX. As a design progresses a good UX designer will evaluate their ideas against user requirements. If at any point the UX suffers, a designer will return to the previous stage and rethink.


Eight top tips for creating an optimised digital user experience

To achieve a high quality UX, an organisation must be capable of merging a number of disciplines into one cohesive package. Unifying engineering, marketing, graphic, industrial and interface design is not an easy feat. Following these key UX guidelines will help your organisation achieve an optimised user experience.

  • UX personas: Know who your audience are and what they want from your site. UX personas focus your website on the users’ needs, ensuring visitors are satisfied. Empathy is a big deal to UX designers. Getting in the users’ heads is crucial.
  • Underlying Information Architecture (IA): Quite simply, IA needs to be spot on. The structuring and hierarchy of your content, data sources and site maps should be rational and simple. If it’s not, you’re likely to have real issues with your site and users will struggle to complete tasks.
  • HTML: Good code is an essential starting point to any website project. Code that is too complex or doesn’t follow best practice standards will create future problems, making it difficult to upgrade your site.
  • Clear navigation: Your users should be able to travel through your site easily. Search, signposting and breadcrumbs all help to lead users through your site and let them know where they are. No one likes to feel lost or out of place.
  • Consistent user experience across devices: Your website needs to be accessible on any device. We think ‘mobile first’ to make sure your design is compatible for mobile users. This also helps maintain focus on other devices like tablets, desktops, games consoles and SMART TV’s.
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Follow guidelines and industry standards to make content accessible, particularly for impaired users and users with highly limited devices.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): A good UX design will benefit your organisations search marketing. Optimising content so that it’s easily found through search will help your business appear higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and start off your user’s journey with your brand smoothly.
  • Page speed: Performance debt will affect the speed of the site. Make sure that code and content is optimised for optimum page speed. Slower page speeds mean unhappy users who bounce straight back to search engine results.

How can you make sure your enterprise follows a good user experience approach?

If you aren’t sure how to approach UX or any other aspect of upgrading your digital platform we can help. At Kagool, we’ve designed enterprise level sites that deliver exceptional user experience for a number of customers, including Formica, British Gypsum, Fairtrade and Welsh Water. We’re an award winning, Platinum Sitecore Partner that specialises in creating great digital experiences.

If you want to know more about building great customer experiences or our approach enterprise website design contact us, we’ll be happy to chat through your project requirements.