How to become a UX hero

Fasthosts, best VPN, best website builders, best web hosting, PayPal, Baymard Institute, hotjar, Adobe XD, balsamiq, Lean UX, Don’t Make Me Think, Defensive Design for the Web, Really Good UX, best shopping cart software

Let’s face it, life isn’t always easy. We’d all appreciate it if things were just a bit simpler and we didn’t have to battle our way through poor experiences. In fact, 73% of people say a good experience is a vital factor when it comes to brand loyalty. 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Austen Macrow and Ashley Morris are user experience (UX) specialists at Fasthosts

This is why an entire industry has developed around UX. Put simply, UX is the concept of creating, developing and managing a product or service with a focus on how people interact with it both digitally and in the real world. 

Let’s unpack that a little. For example, at Fasthosts we have a website and apps where we sell and allow people to manage their products. The aim is to ensure the experience people have is as frictionless as possible so they get what they want without stress. 

If you get it right, everyone wins. Customers get what they need with minimum effort. Moreover, with happy customers, the company does well too. You don’t need to look very far to see brands that are doing well. Uber makes it easy to get a taxi. Amazon provides effortless shopping. There are hundreds of examples. 

Yet achieving simplicity can be complicated. It takes effort, dedication and constant attention to detail. These are things small businesses don’t always have the luxury of. But there are some golden rules that everyone can follow to help them make it as easy as possible for users.

Know your customer

It sounds blindingly obvious, but there really is no point in attempting to develop your UX without knowing who the user is. It’s in the name – user experience. Yet many businesses fall at this first hurdle. 

You need to know their preferences, their technical skills, whether they’re businesses or consumers. The more you know about them, the more tailored you can make their experience. 

For example, a business customer might want an invoice at payment, or a consumer may want to use PayPal. Knowing this sort of thing can entirely change the way an online payment is structured. 

There’s no better way to know your customers than by speaking to them. Do surveys, have customer panels, observe them as they move through your site and apps. This is vital and too many businesses make assumptions, relying on market data or looking at what competitors do. 

Be clear and transparent

This is vital when it comes to UX. If someone is on your website to buy a product, allow them to do so with as few hoops as possible. In doing so, be transparent. 

There’s no point in promoting a product for £5 ($6.95) if, when it drops into your basket, it suddenly costs £10 ($13.90) owing to hidden costs. This immediately breaks trust between the customer and brand. 

Work iteratively

Don’t worry, few of us get something perfect first time. In fact, if you do, the only way is down from there. 

That’s why you need to test, learn and improve all the time. Make a change to your website or app and revisit it. 

See how it’s performing and what else you can do to improve. If you change something and it’s a failure, that’s OK. But fail quickly and learn from it.

Always explain what’s going on

Remember the last time you had a delayed flight or train? You probably thought the most frustrating thing was not being told what was happening. It’s the same with a digital experience. 

If you click a button or submit a form and nothing happens, you think the system is broken. You might even start “rage clicking”. We’ve all done it – repeatedly prodding the mouse. But the website might be working fine – it just wasn’t designed to show it. So, if a customer clicks, show them you’re working on it. 

Design an hourglass or a counter to tell the customer that everything is working as it should. Equally, don’t present problems where they don’t exist with random error messages. 

Have a goal and know how to measure it

Define your goals based on the pain points you’re trying to solve for users. Know what you want to achieve – such as making a payment simpler, or allowing people to find and see a product. 

Then implement changes one by one so you can measure the outcome. Don’t change five things on a webpage at once. One of those changes might have improved outcomes by 80%. 

The other five might reduce them by more. You might end up throwing the good change out with the bad and being in worse position over all. Test, measure and learn at all times. 

UX isn’t just for UX designers

UX is way of thinking as well as a discipline for people designing websites and apps. It’s about putting customers at the heart of what an organization does and getting everyone to buy-in. 

From call center agents to board directors. They all need to understand that constant change and development is good and necessary. And it’s not just about the online experience. 

It’s no good if someone has a poor customer service experience or an advert promises the world, but doesn’t even click through to the right page. Everything needs to be joined up. 

In fact, the natural extension of UX is the whole service design of a business and part of the overall customer experience plan.  

Ensure UX incorporates copywriting

It’s odd that designing a new page or updating a process in an app often focuses on the visual and functional aspects – such as where to put a button or how to structure a journey. In doing so, we often see UX specialists putting dummy text on pages. 

Yet the text that appears on a page needs to marry up with the design and process. When making improvements, write what will appear and do it from a UX perspective. Otherwise, you know what will happen. Someone else will do it… badly. 

Use the right tools and resources

The world of UX is extensive and reading one article about it won’t solve all your challenges, but it will set you on the right path. With that in mind, it’s worth considering what tools experts use and which resources they find most useful. 

The Baymard Institute is a fantastic place to start. It’s done a lot of legwork to understand common good UX practice. While it can never replace speaking to customers, it’s very useful. 

Meanwhile, hotjar is a tool that collects data, gathers user feedback and lets you keep track of customer journeys. There are also prototyping tools to help you build new experiences for people to test in a safe environment. Examples include Adobe XD and balsamiq

This helps UX designers to fail fast and not go down the wrong route. There are also plenty of great books on the topic, including Lean UX, Don’t Make Me Think, Defensive Design for the Web and websites such as Really Good UX. If you’re serious about UX – read them. 

By following these principles, you’ll be well on the way to getting your UX right. You might not be able to get it perfect right away – in fact, as mentioned previously, UX isn’t about instant, singular results. However, with ongoing attention, even one-person businesses can improve the trust consumers have in them and boost their sales. 

Because life can be complicated, if businesses can make people’s life just a little bit easier – a simpler way to pay, an easier way to sign up, a straight forward understanding of what’s going on – everyone wins. 

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