What is User Experience and Why Is It Important?
The term user experience (UX) is something a lot of businesses are still struggling to understanding. According to most scholarly articles user experience is about a person’s perception around a brand, product, system or service. That perception is built across key factors like efficiency, ease of usage and overall utility.
While this definition may be simple to comprehend, the issue with our species is overcomplicating simple systems. With terms like growth hacking, retargeting, marketing automation etc. floating around there is a lot of confusion in what’s what and how it works.
This article will be a basic review of how digital has evolved and remapped our user journey and how user experience is the way forward.
The digital landscape
When we talk about the conventional landscape, when conventional mediums (Like television, radio, outdoor etc.) were what controlled our attention and our media spend; the journey from ideation, to production, to execution and analysis of media was very disconnected. Each of these journeys sat in their own silos and kept it that way.
There was a lot less accountability and we were focused more towards brand building as a long-term investment that would eventually lead to sales.
But with the mainstream adoption of the internet, new mediums (web, mobile, wearables etc.) emerged and deepened integrations. New tools and technologies connected siloes and created a new concept ‘the user journey’.
Although the internet was launched in the 60s it took almost 40 years for the innovation to become mainstream. The main reason behind this late adoption was the lack on understanding on the technology and the development of uses around it as well. So while there is a need for quick adoption of new innovations to drive society forward, there should also be a clear understanding that each innovation requires its time and place to become mainstream.
The user journey
The user journey is a massive concept. With the advent of the internet and the revolutions it brought on, we now have the power see our users at their point of origin (with us) till their point of conclusion.
This insight is massive because for the first time it lets us see where we stand in terms of our efforts (be it our product, our service, our brand our marketing spends or our sales effort).
It builds a whole new layer of accountability, that seeks to empower organizations to analyze their performance on the fly and quickly enhance their user journeys so that their can address any breaks and bleeds in their overall experience.
Now that is what scares a lot of people. The toughest lesson I have had to teach people (both organizations and individuals) is that a user is a mirror to your organization. Their journey with you is important because it determines both your long-term success and your long-term growth. If it is a broken journey, analyzing it real-time and fixing issues as they happen leads to an overall improvement. Its simple, make your people understand that accountability, transparency are tools for improvement and not for control.
Evolving your user experience
Now let’s move from a conceptual direction towards a more practical approach. Suppose you are a startup who has just launched an electronics e-commerce store. You are looking to win users quick, who will be driven to your store not just once, but multiple times.
The old journey would be to build web/mobile User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) that would evolve as your own user learning evolved.
This evolution (overtime) would lead to a drop in your users. An analysis of your findings and a reengineering of your UI/UX which would take weeks if not months. As an e-commerce startup you are in a very competitive space. Business is built on trial and error – what you need is not an elimination of the trial and error process but an evolution of it, and here’s how I did it.
Since I have personally worked in the e-commerce space and help brands evolve their business processes, I have experience with this scenario first hand. Teams would spend weeks testing out scenarios, flows etc. that optimized our user experience. But the dropout we experienced as a result was unacceptable.
Calling it collateral damage, an investment towards improvement was just smoke and mirrors. This bothered me so much that I got on my computer and started searching terms like bootstrapping your UX, behavior driven UX etc. and that’s how I ended up on Userpilot. This was a gamechanger for me and Userpilot quickly became my go-to solution in terms of stepping up my UX game. With Userpilot I was able to fix my dropout/UX issues in a matter of minutes (the old time-frame was a min 2 weeks or so). We maximized our adoption because we were able to trigger the right experience, to the right audience in their journey with us. This helped us reduce churn significantly because we were building experience real-time.
With 88% of online shoppers saying they won’t return to a website with a bad user experience, do you think you have months to figure out user fixes? You need solutions that work real-time.
Another thing that is very important to understand is that user experience is not just about your website, apps and/or digital channels. It works across all your channels, as a strategy to improve and innovate your user journey. Let’s take a look at the aviation industry, it is a very service led industry and with a service led model there is a very regular analysis of what works and what doesn’t with respect to the user journey.
According to Uxdesign.cc, there are 7 stages to a traveler’s journey(Planning, Booking, Pre-Trip, Departure, Flying, Arrival, Post-Arrival). These are 7 stages where one misstep on the airlines part can open them up to severe reprimand from their customers.
So instead of being reactive to customer complaints, being proactive to customer needs is the solution here. An example is something as simple as waiting for your bag to appear at the end of your flight. According to a BBC report; airlines still mislay 25 million bags a year. Through airlines are saying they are getting better; most countries are telling them (by law) to integrate technology into their mix and solve these problems ASAP.
With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP) etc. we have the capacity to now automate the communications/messaging end of the 7stage journey. An example would be Coseer – which through the above-mentioned tech stacks can sift through countless customer communications (E-mail, SMS etc.) and understands how to engage with them like humans. This is good because it allows for people to offload a layer of tasks onto technology while they can focus their efforts on key areas (like overall service improvement within aviation, pricing etc.)
The future of user experience
With more and more technology evolving the way we communicate and engage with users; we now possess the ammunition to design next-gen UX. Organizations need to now understand that time is of the essence. While some of you may feel that customers need to cut you some slack, others are automating their user touch points, build AI led experiences and overhauling/reengineering their UX on the fly.
We have seen titans of industry turn to ashes, when they did not realize the next wave of disruption. In order to become the best, you have to give in and let your users guide you. We all need some help!