How to Enhance User Experience

User experience is crucical when it comes to your website or app. Can you think of a particularly good or bad experience you’ve had with an app or website? I bet you can think of a bad one! No one wants to jump through hoops to buy a product. We have all at some point felt frustrated trying to figure out how the heck to actually contact support or have abandoned an app because we got overwhelmed with how much information they asked for. Or maybe you got frustrated trying to read a carousel that kept sliding away, or the site was so slow that you just gave up altogether.

On the flip side, have you ever had a favourite app or website or found yourself satisfied after leaving because you were able to do exactly what you wanted to do, quickly and easily? Maybe it was simply because it was beautiful, or maybe it was even a delight – looking at you, Good Pair Days!

We’re here to unpack what good user experience is and why it’s important.

It’s all about the experience

A good user experience means a happy user. A happy user means sales and customer retention.

More and more, the first time a user engages with your product or service (even if you don’t have a digital offering) is online, if you don’t make a good impression with your platform – they are not going to stick around.

A good user experience means a happy user and a happy user means sales and customer retention. More often than not, the first time a user engages with your product or service (even if you don’t have a digital offering) is online. If you don’t make a good impression with your platform, your customers aren’t going to stick around.

What is user experience or UX design?

User experience involves every single way a user engages with and experiences your product. This includes the store layout, to the person greeting them on the phone, to the physical product itself. Optimised UX will reduce friction at every touchpoint a user undertakes from researching, purchasing, troubleshooting, and owning a product or service.

However, this is extremely broad. Most of the time when you hear about UX, it’s generally regarding digital UX. As the wide world of technology evolves, we’re going to focus on UX design concerning digital apps and websites and how you can (and should!) enhance them to create not just a usable experience for your target audience, but a pleasurable one.

So how does user experience work?

UX design is the process of designing a deliberate experience that escorts a user around your digital product so that they see, feel, and understand what you want them to, when you want them to. It should feel intuitive – all users have a goal when they land on your platform and good UX will help them achieve that goal seamlessly.

Designing a good user experience is a matter of considering usability, accessibility, efficiency, and ease of use, but also pleasure, fun and enjoyment. Connecting with your target audience and assuring them that they are in the right place.

Now, let’s look at some key ways to improve or optimise user experience.

Key ways to improve your user experience:

1. Simplicity – avoid cognitive overload

Cognitive overload is the strain a user feels when they have to stop and think about how to get something done or what to do next. Remember, humans are lazy by design, so to improve your UX you should try to give the user a clear path and avoid overwhelming them.

Some ways to do this include:

  • Break up any process like onboarding or checkout into separate steps and show a progress bar, let users know where they are. Reduce friction!
  • Is all the information you are gathering necessary up front? Or can you ask for some of it later? (e.g for an email subscription or form – what information do you actually need? Is their birthday and middle name really necessary? Make it as easy as possible for them to fill out the form.)
  • Give feedback: let users know if they have been successful/unsuccessful (submitting a form, creating a password etc.), if they are waiting for something and be specific.
  • Have a clean layout: use negative space, 1-3 fonts, have a clear hierarchy (use consistent headings, and subheadings)
  • At any point, could a user be confused or unsure of what to do next? If so, how can you make it clear?
  • Load time: make sure your site is optimised for fast loading. Show loading progress bars.
  • Use standard icons and features so users know what to expect (hamburger menus, social icons, logo linking to the homepage, etc.)

2. Consider accessibility and be inclusive

Around 20% of Australians live with disabilities – it is important to consider all your customers and design your digital product in a way that ensures everyone can use it and no messages are lost.

Some things to think about:

  • Colour contrast: check the contrast of your foreground and background colours here to ensure everyone, including users with colour vision deficiencies can read the text and distinguish elements
  • Is your text readable? Consider font style, font size and leading (the space between lines)
  • On mobile – are your buttons big enough for thumbs?
  • Are your form fields labelled clearly? (Name, email, etc.) Even when the user is inputting text, they should be able to check the label and the field should be highlighted in some way when active – remember you are trying to help guide them and avoid confusion.
  • Consider your imagery. If you’re using photos or illustrations, are you depicting your target audience? Are you being inclusive?
  • Find out more about Australia’s accessibility guidelines for digital content here.

3. Responsiveness across devices

Is your website optimised for mobile? Around half of global web visits come from mobile devices and users expect a seamless experience. Mobile-friendly websites also perform better with Google indexing.

The goal here is to keep the content consistent across devices, but it should be condensed and simplified on mobile. The most important content and actions should be prioritised and accessibility needs to be considered – is everything still legible on mobile? Do tables, buttons and drop-down menu’s work? Test your site on iPhones, androids, iPads and tablets.

4. Clear CTAs and navigation paths

What is the number one action you want the user to take? Make a purchase? Contact you? Create an account? Whatever it is, everything on your platform should be optimised for that particular goal.

Each page should have a clear action and navigation path for the user and each item should be understood without needing to be explained.

  • Use standard/recognisable icons – make it easy for users to know how to take action. There are places they will look and expect to find information (e.g. a hamburger menu on mobile, contact details/social media links in the footer)
  • Think about what the user wants to do – how can you help them achieve that? How can it be intuitive?
  • Make links and buttons obvious

5. Let the user be in control

This is a big one. Carousals, sliders, or anything that’s important moving on its own is generally a big no. Users don’t have time to read, they get frustrated or distracted and give up. Remember too many messages = no message. Homepage banners in particular on auto loop annoy users, reduce visibility and look like ads, so people tend to ignore them (this is called ‘banner blindness’). Remove the auto loop and have arrows, allowing the user to navigate at their own pace.

For important information (such as a homepage banner) it is generally better to focus on a primary message and action rather than trying to fit five in. If you have pop ups, make them as unintrusive as possible and make sure there are close buttons.

6. Aesthetics and getting creative!

The best UX designs aren’t just easy to use – they are a pleasure to use. Making a digital product usable and efficient doesn’t mean it has to be boring and plain. In fact, it should be beautiful. Aesthetics and perceived ease of use go hand in hand – research has found that if a user finds a digital product aesthetically appealing, they’re more tolerable to minor usability issues and actually perceive the product as more usable. Users are strongly influenced by aesthetics so making sure they have a positive emotional response to the interface is key to creating a good user experience.

Great UX design can also be creative and unexpected. Yes, the user needs to be able to use it with ease, they will expect a hamburger icon to open a menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the menu itself or the way it opens.

Some things to consider:

  • Is your design aesthetically pleasing? Are you using negative space, attractive imagery and colours that convey the tone of your brand or product? What about fonts and icons?
  • Can you present any information or action in a way that adheres to the usability/accessibility principles but is a bit different and engaging?
  • Transitions – how smooth is moving around the site/app? Consider hovers, loads, and eases.
  • Consider touchpoints – at what points can you delight them?
  • Copy and tone of voice – the user should feel like you are talking directly to them – your copy is key to connecting to them and making them feel like they are in the right place. It’s also an easy way to insert a sense of humour!
  • Illustrations can signal different emotional responses from users, like cuteness or imagination. They can convey an idea or emotion in a way photos can’t.
  • Are your users likely to be excited by something fun and innovative, or are they wanting you to be serious? Obviously, your target audience is key here, determine what is appropriate for them – read the (digital) room!

7. Test

Test, test, test! Have your target audience try your product and see where they have issues. Do they need anything explained to them? Could they find what they were looking for?

  • You can also use sites like Hot jar or Crazy egg to see what users are doing. Where are they having trouble? Are they missing any key information? Something that might be obvious to you may not be obvious to them.
  • Offer a gift card for someone to test your product and give feedback
  • Ask for feedback on the platform or after purchase (e.g., did we meet your expectations? How could we improve?)

Example:

Good Pair Days

This onboarding quiz isn’t just seamless, it’s FUN! The quiz determines your personal taste profile and then pairs wines to your tastes and requests. From here, they send you bottles, and the user then gets to rate the wines to improve future recommendations. There is a perfect balance of user control and friendly expert guidance throughout the platform. They know their audience and they escort the user through the entire process like you’re a new friend. Their user experience also reflects their branding as playful and engaging.

Image Source: Good Pair Days

Let’s sum it up

Some key takeaways:

  • If a user can’t use it, they won’t buy it. If they can’t find something, it doesn’t exist for them.
  • Keep it simple, break steps up – avoid cognitive overload.
  • Avoid auto loop carousals – too many messages = no messages
  • All humans have the right to information – make it accessible!
  • The aesthetic-usability effect: users perceive attractive products as more usable, make it beautiful!
  • Humans are lazy and easily distracted, so make it easy, intuitive, and delightful.

If you’re looking to improve the user experience on your site, or need help assessing the usability of yours, get in touch with the Oraco team today.

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