The Importance of User Experience (and the problem with a Bad User Interface)
You have about 15 seconds to impress a website visitor. That’s the average time someone will spend on your site before clicking away.
Your site has a lot to do in those precious few seconds if you’re going to get people to spend more time on the site. If you have a bad user interface, you’re not going to win many people over.
User interfaces and user experiences are key to growing your audience. They could even be the missing ingredient in your webpage conversions.
In this guide, we’ll review the growing importance of UX and UI. We’ll also share some tips for avoiding bad interfaces and, by extension, bad UX.
What is user experience anyway? It’s a question many business leaders find themselves asking these days.
Although UX has jumped to the fore of the conversation in the last few years, the idea has been around a lot longer. UX informs almost any interaction you have with a machine, computer or otherwise.
In fact, you could even say there’s a user experience any time we interact with our environment. Have you ever walked up to a door and pushed instead of pulling it open? A lack of signage made your interaction with the door less than ideal.
Someone considering the UX of this interaction would have added a big sign. You probably would’ve felt a little less embarrassed.
People don’t think much about UX when it comes to these daily experiences, but they’re everywhere. They become much more pronounced when you’re interacting with websites or an app on your mobile. If you can’t figure which button to click, chances are you’re going to give up and delete that app.
The Importance of USER EXPERIENCE
UX has become a hot topic in many developer and business circles. People have realized how important it is. From the second someone downloads your app or lands on your page, they’re having an experience.
Whether it’s a good one or a bad one depends on how much thought you’ve put into constructing that experience for them.
Poorly designed apps and webpages are everywhere though. It’s a good guess most people don’t put much thought into UX.
They’re missing out on increased sales and web conversions. Sites that deliver non-optimized experiences can actually decrease your conversions.
Why is that? There are a few elements of a poor UX, which encourage people not to stick around on the site or buy from you. These include:
- A bad user interface. People can’t find what they want, get frustrated, and leave.
- A lack of valuable content. Again, if people don’t find what they want, they’ll leave your site.
- Nothing but sales pitches. Today’s buyer doesn’t want to be sold to. If they feel your site does nothing but pitch at them, you won’t win them over.
UX goes beyond these elements. If a customer emails you and you take two weeks to reply, you’re not delivering good UX. If your site takes forever to load, you’re not delivering good UX.
USER EXPERIENCE IS A GOOGLE RANKING FACTOR
Another reason you’ll want to pay attention to user experience is that Google says it’s important. If you want your SEO efforts to pay off, you’ll need to pay attention to the experience your site delivers.
Google wants to direct its users to pages they find useful and relevant. A site that delivers a poor experience is doing the opposite, so Google doesn’t want to drive traffic there.
A Bad User Interface Affects UX
Many people get mixed up about user experience vs user interface. A user interface is what the user interacts with when they use an app or visit your site. It forms one part of their user experience.
UX is a broader category than UI. It includes factors like the content of your site. UI refers to the way people interact with the site, mediated through design and programming.
How UI Affects UX
A bad user interface isn’t going to deliver a good UX for people using an app or visiting a site. Bad UI makes sites difficult to navigate. Should you click this button or that one?
Good design is part and parcel of UI. It can help ensure users understand the interface without much effort.
Think back to the example of the door. A sign tells you how to interface with the door. This helps you complete your task and avoid embarrassment and frustration too.
You can think of UI for your website or app the same way. A good UI uses design to help users navigate. They know which button to click and they can find what they’re looking for in short order.
The programming behind your UI keeps it functional. When someone clicks a button, it should take them to the right page or launch an action. It should respond quickly as well.
Crafting Better Interfaces
As you can see from this discussion, UI and UX go hand in hand. While they’re different things, both influence how a user feels about your app or website. It can even affect how they feel about your brand.
Now the question is, how can you create better interfaces?
UI relies on both design and programming. Whenever you’re creating a new website or a new app, you’ll want to sit down and map it out.
As you’re designing, keep the user in mind. What do they need from your site? What will they expect?
Prototyping is one way to craft better interfaces. Using a prototyping tool, you can lay out what the finished user interface will look like. You can even draw your prototype on paper for a low-cost method.
Test the Prototype
Once you’ve created a prototype, ask people to interact with it. Is it clear where they should click? As they scan the page, can they find what they’re looking for?
You’ll want to pay attention to these aspects of your interface:
- Is it easy to find where you want to go?
- Does the site move the user through pages and information in a logical way?
- Are pages laid out the same way, or do key elements move around?
- Does the page feel spacious, or is it cluttered and confusing?
When you’re testing, be sure to ask people outside of your business or development group. You understand the internal logic, so you may not see issues that other users will encounter.
If it’s possible, ask existing customers or app users to test for you. Their feedback can help you build an app or site that caters more to their needs and expectations.
You’ll need to test throughout the development and design process. Responsiveness, for example, can be difficult to test in a prototyping tool or on a piece of paper. Responsiveness is a key factor in creating both good UI and UX for mobile users, though, so you want to be sure you’ve incorporated it well.
Building a Better USER EXPERIENCE
Creating a better UI is just one element in crafting a better experience for your users. A clean, simple navigation system will help users get around. Responsiveness ensures your site works on both desktop and mobile screens.
You can have an excellent UI and still deliver a poor user experience. UX is built on several different factors. A good experience hinges on all those elements coming together.
Once you’ve created a beautiful, easy-to-use UI, you must make sure you have the content people want. You can have a gorgeous site, but without the content, users will still have a poor experience.
UX Best Practices
UX best practices include taking a look at your buyer personas. Who is visiting your site and who is downloading your app? What are their reasons for doing so?
Answering these questions can tell you a lot about what your site needs to deliver. If your customers turn to you for industry insights, you can’t fill your blog with funny YouTube videos.
Knowing the demographics of your audience also helps you tailor the design of your site. It can also tell you how many people browse on mobile.
Other best practices include using style guides, testing, and more. If you’re ever in doubt, ask! Getting customer feedback about their experience can help you make the right changes.
Even your SEO can be part of the user experience you deliver. Good SEO helps people find your site. Bad SEO could harm your reputation by delivering bad content or a poor UX.
See What a Better UX Can do for You
A bad user interface is usually just one part of a bad overall experience for your users. If you have a high bounce rate, it may be time to consider overhauling the user experience on your website.
If you need a hand, get in touch with us. We can help you evaluate your current user experience and develop ways to deliver a better one. Happier customers and better conversions could be just a few clicks away. Contact us for details.
Originally published at https://optimiseandgrowonline.com.au on April 18, 2019.