User experience helps websites create profit – or not

Feb 28 , 2018

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Retailers may have woken up with smiles or not, during the week following Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, depending on how their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales fared. Those who spent time designing and testing the user experience (UX) are probably the ones smiling.

With all of the purchasing being done on mobile devices – where it is easier to “get lost” and abandon a buying journey – UX design and testing has become a critical success factor.

Whether the goal is a purchase for retail or a contact for business and professional organizations, today’s enduring brands will focus on UX to convert interest to desire to action.

Designing the experience

It’s a new challenge for many designers to “design the experience” versus “design the page” on a website. The bold or whimsical designs that spark interest may also detract from the journey to accomplish the business goal. Even worse, if the design is not specifically targeted to the user, the journey may be abandoned before it is started.

UX for target users requires designers who are or have access to savvy marketers, researchers and selling process specialists in order to communicate and guide the digital user’s journey, whatever the goal.

Successful journeys need to highlight what’s most important to the user, what’s the easy next step, and what users can make happen without thinking or being distracted in order to reach the goal quicker.

Plan for tools to manage the details

A large part of user research for UX involves interaction with the customers who match your web personas, but additional research revolves around following all the traffic through your website and analyzing the data. The latter can be done by an increasing number of web tools providing initial analysis of the users’ journey and their movement through the sales funnels.

Review reports, test any changes

Company leaders need to make themselves available to review insightful reports and authorize any changes suggested. All changes need to be tested over short time frames, at first daily, because even small tweaks can increase profits significantly, or not.

This holiday season is a perfect opportunity to experience the importance of UX. During this time, we go to websites we normally wouldn’t visit because we are shopping for someone who may be different in age and interests. Shopping for a husband’s tool, a daughter’s American Girl doll or grandpa’s chair lift can bring us to sites that challenge us to find our way as users. The good experiences get our business quickly; the bad experiences are abandoned quickly.

When your own likes, dislikes and interests match the persona for a well-designed customer journey on a website, these personal experiences create a deeper understanding of UX than graphs on a chart. And then it’s easy to comprehend firsthand why well-designed online experiences create sales and foster brand loyalty.