"Let's add some UX to it!”
If only we had a dollar for every time we heard that halfway through a project…
User Experience (UX) is moving into a space (for some it’s always been this way) where it's no longer just a part of the process, but rather a philosophy that is carried through a project life cycle. Sure there are specific UX focused activities that happen throughout, specifically at the start in order to understand and define a few things, but constant UX thinking within a team is the difference between simply building a website, or changing people's lives.
This article will discuss 5 of those principles that could encourage your business to take UX a bit more seriously and illustrate how UX is not just a piece of the puzzle, but a thought process that allows us to build the puzzle efficiently and for the right reasons.
- Drives customer satisfaction
Bit of an obvious one here, but isn't obviousness and logic what UX is all about? It’s a common mistake to forget about the user and start designing down a path that satisfies business, budget and stakeholder requirements. At the end of the day, if the user is not happy, they won't come back, and if they don't come back, we're not doing a good job.
We test with plenty of metrics such as time, conversions, usability rating etc but in most cases, the biggest metric of all is satisfaction. Did your user leave your website/app feeling satisfied with the experience they received? In 2019 we hear more and more people talk about how good or bad a user experience was and walkerinfo.com say that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the most important brand differentiator. Something to ponder on...
- Helps to build the right thing
Build the right thing and build the thing right. Something that is easier said than done and not always achieved. Following a UX process keeps you and your team focused on solving a specific set of problems in the best way possible.
It helps properly define the problem without the team trying to imagine what the problem might be. We validate that problem with actual users and get insight and data from the horse's mouth (although you shouldn't refer to your users as horses). At the end of the day, UX design is a user-centred approach to finding and solving problems. Fixing a problem that has been defined and validated with users, minimises the likelihood of rework later down the line.
- Reduces costs, a lot
This last point has been known since the conception of UX but we feel it needs to be echoed because the impact it can have is profound. The biggest cost impact would have to be in development. Iteration happens at design phase so less expensive changes happen during the development cycle. Additionally, designs are based on user research so by the time devs touch the work, it has been validated and polished. Of course, there are times where changes need to be done at dev stage but the designers should be checking in with the devs early to avoid this as much as possible.
Upfront, designers are also able to make accurate estimates on what is needed based on research and with the introduction of Lean UX, designers will be testing features early and often in order to focus in on the most important features. This avoids design and development debt as well as wasted resources.
- It creates team cohesion
A well-managed UX process helps to get everyone on the same page in regards to the actual requirements of a project, how the project will be run and what the project outcome might look like. This is the case for internal as well as external parties. Counterintuitively, but not surprisingly, an internal team working on the same project are usually the ones that have the most fragmented view of the project. All too often requirements, resources and even project purpose are forgotten about, and the process slips from being proactive to reactive.
A defined UX strategy keeps the team in the right swim lane and firing on all cylinders. This ultimately ensures that you are always working towards the goal and the right problems are being solved.
- UX philosophy is contagious
Adopting a UX philosophy within a team or business makes you naturally apply that philosophy to other areas of the business. Whether it's in team culture, design process, operational process or development cycles, you will find you and your colleagues always UXing things in pursuit of a better experience. Slowly but surely creases get ironed out, processes become leaner and the whole system starts to run smoother.
This won't happen overnight on its own, so naturally, a bit of UX oversight/guardianship is needed to set the wheels in motion. You will also need to adopt the UX philosophy holistically. Running one discovery workshop doesn't make you a design-led company unfortunately :-)