For Technology. For Marketing. For the Experience of Your Product or Service.
User Experience (UX) and User Experience Design (UXD or UED) are terms used to refer to user-centered design practices. The aim is to produce something that meets the user’s (the customer) own goals – his measures of success and ease of use – while fulfilling the objectives of the company. The term was coined by Don Norman while he was Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple.
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose it’s meaning… user experience, human centered design, usability; all those things, even affordances. They just sort of entered the vocabulary and no longer have any special meaning. People use them often without having any idea why, what the word means, its origin, history, or what it’s about.” (source)
UX Goes Beyond Technology
People often associate User Experience exclusively with web design and related areas of technology. However, we are now applying the concept to several areas of business. Here are just a few that come to mind:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Offline / In-Store Experience
- Marketing Strategy
- Communications with Customers
- Usability Testing on Products
Case Study for User Experience
Many executives view User Experience as a low-priority and an unnecessary way to spend budget. Ironically, it is a key way that many organizations end up saving money and improving their business. Let’s take a look at this somewhat fictional case study.
The Special Software Company offers a SaaS solution directly to small businesses and re-sellers. Their software is a CRM tool with email built in. For the past 2 quarters, the company has been slowing down and profits are lower than expected. They have tried lowering the cost, up-selling account services, and even expanding their technology to make it work better with an email service provider. Nothing is working.
Finally, the CTO of the company suggests bringing in a User Experience Specialist to help the company identify the problem and address it. She creates organizes some focus groups of current customers and anther focus group of potential customers (based on the company’s profile of an ideal customer). During these focus groups, she discovers that the UI of the software is functional, but not logical to everyone. Even current customers explain that they had to learn how to change their own logic to use it. She also discovers that potential customers feel uneducated about the application of using this software – how will it really work for their business to save time and money?
Everything is complied into documents that show the user experience flow, touching upon the psychology around the interactions, and identifying the pain points for current and potential customers. The entire process took a couple of weeks, and now the company has clear actionable tasks toward improving the business.
Marketing to Your Users
Looking more closely at this software company, we discovered that one of the pain points for potential customers was the marketing message. It was unclear and was not answering the most important questions for the end user (the customer).
As marketers, we all too often are holding the megaphone up and shouting out the message rather than listening. The best marketing strategies, however, address user experience. It can be difficult, because unlike a product or service we need to keep testing the marketing messages and delivery until we know what is working. Take these steps to create the most effective marketing message:
- Listen, Watch and Analyze. If your company has online reviews, read them and make detailed notes about what people are saying. Check your website’s analytics to learn about how people are using your website. If you have a physical location, watch how they interact in the store and interview store staff about the experiences. Really pay attention to body language, because it tells a whole other story than the words people share.
- Identify Personas. I prefer calling these people your tribes, but in the industry they are called personas. Each unique group shares common goals, background and experiences. This can also help you identify the triggers that lead your customers to purchase your product or service – the steps they took before getting into the store or onto your website.
- Customer Flow. Follow the steps of the entire process it takes for a customer to be first introduced to your company all the way through the purchasing path and on-going customer service. Based on this flow, you can properly structure your customer communications (both marketing and otherwise) and it should be shaped around his/her persona.