30 April 2018

Which measures have the biggest impact on your user experience?

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User experience is often shortened to UX. It is the term used for the complete emotional experience that your users, customers or potential customers have when using your product, website, apps or other platforms.

User experience is affected by a wide range of elements. They tend to fall into the following three categories:

  1. Design
  2. User-friendliness
  3. Message

Design is important. Design is the first impression. This is your opportunity to create the first positive emotions for users and thus pave the way for a good user experience. If the site is welcoming and inviting and rouses interest, people will want to stay in your world. The design can also help guide the user - i.e. support the experience of user-friendliness.

User-friendliness is also important. Even if you have an attractive design, if the navigation doesn't work, or if I can't figure out how to fill in your payment form, the user experience ends up being negative.

Most importantly, however, is your message! If the message or offer isn't relevant to me, then it makes no difference whatsoever how appealing your design is or how easy it is to use your site. Because then I have no reason to even be on your site.

What's a loaf of wholemeal bread got to do with user experience?

Let me show you what I mean with a story about Louise.

Louise usually buys her wholemeal bread from a bakery two streets away from her apartment. But today she decides to try a new bakery. It's just opened and looks really trendy from the outside. Inside the design is rustic in a cool way, and the atmosphere is warm and cosy. Louise is even offered a cup of coffee while queuing. Up to this point, Louise's user experience is excellent.

"How can I help you?" asks the friendly assistant. Louise asks for a wholemeal loaf, but gets the unexpected answer that they don't sell wholemeal (please forgive the analogy here). But they do have artisan bread and plenty of freshly baked French sticks.

Louise's family stopped eating white bread three months ago - so do you think she’s going to buy anything from this bakery? No. Despite the cool interior and the cosy ambiance, she’s going back to the bakery where she knows she’ll get her wholemeal bread. Here the assistant greets her with a "Hi Louise, do you want your usual loaf of wholemeal or do you want to try our new paleo wholemeal? I think you'll love it."

That's the user experience we want as customers. Whether we're in a physical store or we've taken the digital route.

Know your customers

If you want your digital platform to succeed at delivering the same experience of relevance and personal service as Louise's regular and trusted bakery, then you need to know your customers. You need to know their needs, preferences and challenges. In short, you need to know their reason to even be on your website.

The more you know about your customers and their pains and gains, the more targeted and relevant you can make your communication, your offers and services. This means your customers get a unique and targeted user experience on your digital platform.

Don't forget the barriers

When you start finding out data and insights about your customers, it's important that you don’t focus purely on their motivation. Knowing your customers’ motivation means you can address their specific needs or challenges directly. Which is important because then you can confirm to your customer (such as Louise) that she has come to the right place. You can help her.

But it's just as important to find out what your customers’ barriers are. These could be doubts about you as a supplier. Doubts about which product or solution is important to them. Whether the time is right. Whether the customer is able to cancel. Whether your subsequent service level is high enough. And so forth.

Barriers are all those questions and doubts that risk holding the user back from shopping, signing up, interacting - or whatever your goal is, whatever your call to action.

Once you know the customers’ barriers, you’ll be able to take them by the hand and guide them by answering those questions you think they need answers to. And you can articulate and remove their uncertainties so they feel safe and ready to convert. As a customer or user, feeling helped and handheld is something that really raises the user experience.

Your users are on a journey

You can raise your user experience further by understanding that your customer is in a process. They are unlikely to either buy or get in touch on their first visit. It’s more relevant for the customer to get an answer to the questions and considerations they have at this moment in the process, than being bombarded with information and immediately directed to a conversion button.

The customer journey doesn't stop after buying - and nor does the user experience

Hopefully you and your customer's relationship won't stop once a purchase has been made, or after the contract has been signed. So there are all sorts of reasons to gather information about the last part of the customer journey. By finding out what your customers' typical challenges, new needs and questions are after the purchase/contract signature, you can stay several steps ahead of them.

I.e. you can meet them half way with relevant communication, services or tools that anticipate and help them with their biggest needs or challenges - at exactly the right time. And that's something that really creates a good user experience! And loyal customers.

Here you can find information about your customers

User experience english picture

Regardless of which data sources you use, remember to focus your data gathering on insights about the customer's motivation and barriers.

Bread before design

Relevance is fundamental for your user experience. The right offer or the right help for the right customer at the right time (the right thing being from the customer's perspective!) That's your foundation.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn’t work on the design and user-friendliness. But only once your foundation is in place.

So Louise's wholemeal loaf comes before any attractive design. If she can't get the bread she needs, she won't see any value in the design or ambiance, even with the free coffee.

My recommendation for prioritising your work and raising the user experience is therefore as follows:

  1. Find out whether your customers actually want wholemeal bread - or whether they want something else.
  2. Make it easy for them to find the wholemeal bread in your shop.
  3. And make your shop cosy and appealing.

That's when you'll go far with both your product and your user experience.

When we look for insights into the customer's needs and experience of a brand, we often use the analysis tool Customer Journey. You can read more about our tested methodology at here.

About the author

Heidi Collin
Heidi CollinDigital Strategy ManagerSend e-mail

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