What is UX?
UX is short for ‘user experience’. There is no single universally agreed upon definition, because the concept encompasses many dimensions. Most often the term UX is applied to digital products, especially websites, but it is equally applicable to all products and services. More generally speaking, UX can be defined as the entirety of a consumer’s experience with a product, service or system.
According to a study by the Oxford Journal Interacting with Computers entitled UX Curve: A method for evaluating long-term user experience the goal of UX is “to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
UX design is growing in importance and demand and as such more and more businesses are identifying the importance of user experience. One company that has always placed a premium on UX is Apple. Steve Jobs was famously quoted as saying “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”
Elements of UX
Although there are many different factors that affect the UX of a service, system or product, UX has four main aspects:
- Utility – how useful is the product?
- Usability – how easy is the product to use?
- Appealing – how attractive is the product (aesthetically speaking)?
- Engaging – how often will someone engage with the product and how much will they enjoy it?
To evaluate UX on a regular basis your business should ask these questions across all departments and set usability goals to improve user experience in these four areas.
Why is UX important?
Although the definition of UX may be hard to nail down, its importance is immediately evident. Whether you are a SME, a global tech company, or a new start-up, UX is a defining factor that will ultimately determine the success or failure of your business. Even the most innovative product, brilliant invention, or perfectly coded software will not meet its potential unless it is crafted with UX in mind.
The age of the consumer
We live in an age of unparalleled consumer choice – the era of the customer. Thanks to the near ubiquitous use of social media, digital information, and ever more powerful and popular mobile devices, consumers can research and access product information almost instantly.
As a result, focusing on your clients and potential clients is more important than ever before. Poor UX will deter potential customers from using your product and even compel them to share their negative experience with your brand across social media and beyond.
A shift has occurred where consumers now have more power and control than businesses, a new dynamic best described by Michael E. Porter, a strategy guru, who explains “where the buyer has full information about demand, actual market prices, and even supplier costs, this usually yields the buyer greater bargaining leverage.”
When done well, a seamless UX builds consumer loyalty. In an age in which information and choices are readily available, UX has become more important than ever before. Based on a study of 7,500 consumer surveys rating the loyalty of 150 American firms, “customer experience correlates with consumers’ willingness to repurchase, reluctance to switch, and likelihood to recommend firms across all of the 14 industries examined.”
The value of investing in UX
Products, services, systems, and businesses that value UX outperform those that do not. According to UX expert Andrew Kucheriavy, the founder and CEO of Intechnic, “compared to their peers, the top 10 companies leading in customer experience outperformed the S&P index with close to triple the returns.” Consequently, a study by Forrester solutions shows that “on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of a whopping 9,900 percent.”
UX as part of the design process
Integrating effective UX into your internal processes, rather than as an afterthought or a correction will deliver stronger results when your products and services hit the market. Utilizing consumer research regarding UX allows organizations to become more effective, and generate more sales. Recently this strategy allowed Ford to increase lead conversion by over 100%. How did they do it? Utilizing UX, Ford built a library of information documenting their consumer patterns, integrating this information to increase product development efficiency by 50%.
The priority that Ford placed on UX as part of their research and design process resulted in better product development and UX efficiency. Like Ford, your company should examine and document UX to create a better product and also deliver products to market faster than your competition.
UX in practice
Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, nor the smartphone, nor the laptop, but it made all of these products easier to use. Google didn’t invent the search engine, but it made it more relevant and simpler to use. “ Jeff Bezos invested 100 times more into customer experience than advertising during the first year of Amazon,” Kucheriavy points out.
According to Kucheriavy, UX is the factor that helped companies like Amazon and AirBnB succeed. “AirBnB’s Mike Gebbia credits UX with taking the company to $10 billion,” he says. These successful companies have one thing in common – they integrate UX into the very core of their business, building their technology around the user. When it comes to UX the most successful modern companies are born in it and molded by it.