Have you ever asked yourself why do so some big (and successful) companies always seem to know how to keep users in love with them? Maybe you haven’t paid enough attention to Google’s doodles.
If you want to know the principles of any long-term, positive user experience, you better keep reading… or just sit there and look how others eat the pie.
According to a 2014 research, mobile users are five times more likely to leave a website if its layout isn’t optimized for mobile, basically because a “not optimized website” for smartphones’ devices means:
- A difficulty to read
- A difficulty to navigate
- A touch unfriendly layout
- A stormy delay to load
Technology development and digital research have lead us to one unquestionable revelation: user experience (UX) has a lot to do with the imminent success or absolute failure of any product. The way people perceive, feel and think about your brand image is the basis from where they might do one of two things:
- Take action towards the establishment of a long-term, happy relationship with your business; or…
- Take action towards the rejection of you, your product and all your family.
But how does UX really work and how can you put into practice effective strategies to improve your product?
Well, first you need to understand what do user experience implies.
When we talk about UX we’re inevitably referring to a conjunction of factors that combines between them to conform a major dimenssion: experience.
The same way you may hate dogs because your neighbour’s doberman bite you a few years ago, users consider not only your product’s features, price or design (objective elements) but how does your brand identity make them feel (subjective elements). Indeed, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience (which is the same reason why you wouldn’t want to have a doberman playing around after being bitten).
Now, they’re two relevant points we can take out of this:
- First, users have no mercy.
- Second, users don’t care about how you build or design your products. They just expect your product to make them feel good (high level of satisfaction).
Let’s say that user experience is like a building which foundations can be more or less resistant depending on the strength of aspects such as:
- Human factors (memories, preferences…)
Which one is more important?
They all are, my dear Watson. They all build and improve connections between users-devices-products-emotions, which is exactly what you need if you want to establish positive user experiences. Remember: UX is a more complex concept than UI (user interface). We are not talking about the final product here, whatever it is; we are talking about the whole process behind, the formula that involves all interactions users make with your business, online and offline. So, how do you smartly play cards to make people love your product through UX?
1. Always keep in mind the problem you are trying to solve. Design specific solutions for specific people
If you lose your house’ keys and your neighbor finds them, I bet the only thing you would ask from heaven (and from your neighbor) is to have your keys back as soon as possible because you really need to use the bathroom. You wouldn’t expect your neighbor to put the keys on a little box with a pretty red thread on it, you don’t need that.
To improve users experience around your product, you must always design considering one specific objective: to solve an user’s problem. No matter what are you trying to sell, they’re some questions you should be able to answer at any moment:
- What problem is my product going to solve?
- Who’s going to get the benefits of my product?
- What features does my product needs to be an effective (effective, not “impressive”) solution?
2. Pay attention to content (or die)
Nowadays, investing on online content (text, graphics, videos) may be a better option than investing on traditional online advertising, not because banners aren’t effective but because doing marketing through content makes easier to give users what they really want: useful information, value.
Today, all big companies have a blog, videoblog or produce original graphic content (mostly presented on an emotional language) because they know users are more likely to click on something that promises to help them improve their lifestyle somehow for free. Actually, 82% of consumers enjoy reading content from company blogs while 70% of users learn about a company through their blog rather than ads.
3. Be multi-screen (because users are)
If you haven’t realized of how users tend to look for information about a local business on their smartphone or tablet, then you’re definitely being a caveman on the digital era.
Statistics say that 63% of people use multiple devices to find local businessesand 90% of them take action making a purchase or contacting the business if they find relevant content. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple to understand: yesterday, people saved their lives on CD’s or USB’s; now, they just carry them on their pockets, and that means they want to have access to information no matter where they are. That’s what internet came to teach us: that ubiquity is an universal right.
4. If you’re going to develop an app, make it right. Otherwise, please don’t torture your users
If you are going to invest on an app development to boost users interaction towards your brand, or maybe just as an alternative to your website’s mobile version, you better know what you’re doing.
People download tons of apps everyday which they immediately delete or maybe just keep on their devices but never use (basically, because they were too busy to delete them immediately). They’re two reason why this may happen:
- They’re hard to use apps
- They’re consistently different from the website original design/layout
Familiarity is as important as usability. A lack of seamless across devices confuses users; actually, 83% of consumers say that seamless between mobile/desktop devices is somewhat or very important.
5. Ask, test and validate
You can’t establish the effectiveness of your UX strategy if you don’t evaluate your methods, and you can’t have a clue of what do users want from your product if you don’t ask them. ESPN.com revenues, for example, increased on 35% after they decided to incorporate users’ suggestions on their homepage redesing.
Of course, consumers are like girlfriends and boyfriends: they don’t always know why do they love us, so it’s our deal to discover it and do something to keep them by our side, and that’s why testing and validating is so important. First, you test what users “should” like; then, you validate, improve and keep what they really like.
6. Remove unnecessary features
If you find out that those “cool features” you developed with the same love a mother would put in raising a child doesn’t work the way you imagined… just let it go, for common good. Otherwise, testing and validating would be a lose of time and resources.
Users may tell you they want your product to be available in all colors and textures, but eventually you will realize they tend to purchase it only in black and white. Keep what users use.
7. Include a “First Time” experience on your website
Do you remember what happened when your mom had her first smartphone?
Do you remember how sad she was because that touchscreen didn’t seem to care about her nerves?
Do you remember how happy she was when you explained her how to turn that hostile touchscreen into her friend?
Leaving first time users to their own is never a good idea, not only because they may feel that your product (website, app, whatever) is so much hard to use and, therefore, just leave it, but because consumers may perceive a lack of interest from your brand towards their needs and expectations.
8. Do smart email campaigns
If clients have given you their email address, you should definitely be grateful because you have a good point in your favor, just don’t ruin it sending irrelevant information users don’t even care. Remember that Unsubscribe button is just down there, waiting an opportunity.
Statistics say that 8 of 10 consumers who signed for emails from a brand over the past six months made a purchase based on what they received; obviously, you must create an email campaign focused on what do users need (users’ problem) to remember them a few times a week that you have the better solution.
9. Make users feel they matter
There’s a good reason why Google changes it’s doodle every year to give you a happy birthday message: they know it makes you smile.
User experience depends on your ability to take users’ side, to make them feel you care about their feelings. If you design your product based on a specific solution for a specific problem, users should feel comfortable choosing you over hundreds of alternatives, not confused or abandoned. As a matter of fact, the top reason why customers leave a company according to a research leaded by the Rockefeller Corporation is that customers believe you don’t care about them (68%).
10. Always highlight what matters on your website
Do not play with users’ patience. Research says that not finding relevant information leads 79% of people to search for another (better) site in order to complete a specific task, which could be (sadly for you) a purchase.
According to research, companies currently not conducting UX testing will be doing it in the next 12 months, and that’s because developing a product you don’t even know how do users perceive is completely irrational. You can invest thousands of dollars on prototypes, features and redesign projects and still receive the lowest ROI of business’ history, but investing just $1 may return up to $100.
It’s common sense… just eat the pie.