User experience has in recent years become more and more central to the creation and optimisation of digital assets. In fact, its rise mirrors the web’s own development from a largely static one-way communication platform to the interactive, immersive and mobile internet we recognise today. The most common definition of UX (and the one we feel most fitting) is that UX is ‘the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use’.
Whose responsibility is UX?
Take a second to think of a time you were navigating a website or mobile app and you ran into glitches, bugs or an exhaustingly long loading time every time you tried to enter a new page. Frustrating, right? Research indicates that this can have an enormous effect on a business’s bottom line, not to mention customer retention.
So, who failed in this regard? It’s hard to say for sure. UX is a job that should be handled by multiple individuals from multiple backgrounds and, more often than not, failed UX is the result of one person trying to fill too many roles. This can be due to budget constraints or simply the business lacking the talent to fill these roles.
Since UX is such a complex factor in web development, it requires expertise from a few different sources. Alongside user experience designers, creative directors will define the look and feel of the digital asset, while business analysts and developers will worry about the functionality and how it will be delivered.
In simple terms, UXD’s do the ‘why’, creative designers so the ‘what’ and developers do the ‘how’. Project managers will then often be involved to ensure that the work meets its milestones and deadlines – through this method the team remains focused on the problem that the software or site is trying to solve.
Luckily, Macrison has spent years developing the talent and resources to handle UX design for clients in house, cost-effectively, and innovatively. Macrison specialises in agile UX development methods, which means we have the capacity to react quickly to change. This gives us a distinct advantage over other marketing suppliers who are stuck in the traditional sequential development model, who are slower and less reactive to change.
Agile emphasises collaborative working, where the different disciplines sit next to each other to ease communication and speed up the pace of delivery.
The importance of context
Context has become vitally important because of the proliferation of devices that people use to access the internet, and the fact that digital is becoming the primary for so much of our lives. Understanding how, where and when your users are interacting with you is vital to providing them with the best experience.
We can no longer assume that because we have built a great website we will satisfy all users. Mobile users will have a different view, will interact through touch rather than a keyboard or mouse, may be interrupted by calls or messages and are more likely to be looking to absorb content rather than make a purchase, as compared to a desktop user. Appreciating these context differences is crucial to creating a great experience
US research house Forrester said it best when they stated “you must harness digital technologies, both to deliver a superior customer experience and to drive the agility and operational efficiency you need to stay competitive”.
The role of UX can be seen as mediating between the company that wants its customer or prospects to take a particular action, and those customers who just want to solve a problem (in the broadest sense). Therefore, optimising your UX across all touchpoints is crucial as it will be a deciding factor in making it possible to achieve your digital marketing strategy goals.
There are two important ways to think about context for relevance:
1. What you, as a service provider, know about your customer (who they are, where they are, their point in the customer journey, their past interaction history etc)
2. What your customer thinks about you in their context as a digital customer (i.e. they are used to Facebook and Google and therefore will not forgive you for delivering a poor experience)
Understanding the user’s context is therefore crucially important for service providers. Making assumptions rather than working from a position of knowledge is a dangerous choice to make and one that can be extremely difficult to unpick later. An understanding of context gives you the ability to prioritise particular features and content.
UX Research – How to get it right the first time
Traditionally, markets and customers were segmented on the basis of demographics. However, those approaches are no longer the ultimate answer to the question of who your customers are, as needs and behaviours make much better starting places for innovation.
This points to one of the most important considerations in building digital products – ensuring that you never make assumptions. It is vital that a business takes every opportunity to fully understand its intended users and find out what they really want how they behave.
The best practice and the way Macrison approaches this is through using tools such as heat map software, user interviews, web analytics, and even ethnographic models of observation. Truly, the best experiences are created when a designer has been able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Macrison combines expertise in marketing and creative with web development brilliance to create a UX of the highest calibre possible.
About The Author:
Joan MacDougal is the CEO of Macrison. She is the founder and owner of this innovative and original marketing company. Prior to Macrison Joan held senior roles at both American Express and Telstra. With 30 years of front-line marketing, advertising and communications experience Joan brings honesty and perspective to her views on better marketing, communications and advertising. Visit Joan’s website www.joanmacdougal.com to get to know Joan a little better. For more information on our Services click here Macrison Services