Dear Director of Getting It Done,
I get it, I really do. User Experience certainly seems like one of those “nice to have” things. Who wouldn’t want their users to have a “delightful” time? Who wouldn’t want to be “empathetic” to their needs?
I know you think about your users in the website revision meetings! I’ve listened to you try and put yourself in the customer’s shoes in the feature development discussion!
I also know that you are up to your eyeballs busy every day getting a website up and running and due yesterday that creates value for the company. Value that was created by reaching KPIs such as increased sales and leads, all the while trying to keep costs such as development time down.
That’s why I am here to tell you, if done correctly, that’s exactly what User Experience does.
I am the Lead UX Strategist at Brownstein Group, the agency that does amazing things for both B2C and B2B companies, so I know a little about this.
Let me tell you what I mean by “if done correctly.” To do this, let me first explain what UX is not about. It’s not about making a pleasant experience for your user. That is one of the results, but it’s more like a fortunate side effect.
It’s also not about how many slides you can put in your homepage slideshow. The answer to that is none, please stop using slideshows but more importantly, that question is not what you should be focusing on.
Beneficial UX, UX that pays for itself and then some, is about 4 things:
- Discovering what value your product offers.
- Discovering what value your users are seeking.
- Synthesize up those values to ensure a fit.
- Creating a journey that uses however many channels needed to provide the user with those matching values and tell your (Brand) story along the way.
Once those things happen, which features to use and their development priority fall into place. The user becomes happier using the website because it provides the value they are seeking. You can then actually measure results in a qualitative way that will add value to all those quantitative KPI goals such as “increase in sales.”
Meaning, you added value while also reducing risk because you just saved your development team tons of time having to redesign features that aren’t working.
Notice how the first thing wasn’t all about the user? That’s because it shouldn’t be. It starts with you, or more specifically, your business. A good UX strategy, a UX strategy that pays off, first understands what it is that you are trying to provide.
Without that understanding, no amount of animations, videos or anything else is going to delight your users and turn them into customers.
This business-first stage isn’t just about trying to understand what the value is that your product offers. It’s also about communication. It gives different departments within the company the opportunity to communicate what they think those values are.
This becomes vitally important as 9 out of 10 times these discussions reveal that different departments believe the products or services provide different values based on their particular viewpoint from within the organization.
Once you have those agreed upon values, it’s time to discover what values the user wants from your product or service. Most likely, they didn’t randomly find your website. They sought it out with specific intention. What is that intention? What job or jobs are they “hiring” your website to do? You may already be familiar with Jobs-To-Be-Done in some fashion. Although this framework is primarily used for startups, it can be applied here as well.
Through research and talking to users, you can not only discover exactly what values they are looking for in your products but the order of importance they hold those values.
Once you have this research in hand, you can then ensure they align with the values your company believes your product offers. This alignment keeps your team aware of the user and helps you take a second look at the feature list you have for the website and revise it accordingly.
If your team came up with values that did not align with the user values, you have now been given the chance to revise the values of your product from the perspective of the user. Doing this now will prevent you from developing a website that is missing those business goals, spending more money trying to fix it, and having to explain your decisions.
Let’s look at an example.
You are an automobile tire manufacturer and your product value discovery resulted in the values being lifespan, safety, fuel efficiency, and handling in different weather conditions. Your company spent a lot on the all-weather technology and you want to talk about that. The first thing you want on your website is an infographic on how your tires handle in high heat, snow and on wet roads.
Upon doing research and asking what users are hiring the product to do, you discover that drivers are actually hiring your tires primarily for fuel efficiency because gas prices have gone up and they need tires that help extend the gas tank. Instead of the originally intended infographic, a map is put on the website showing distance between stops with and without the tires.
This is a made up example but it makes the point that good user research pays off. It just saved you from selecting feature development based off internal meetings which led to redevelopment of that feature after it didn’t perform as expected.
Do you remember when I said that the users most likely did not randomly find your website? That brings us to the 4th thing of user experience that pays off — creating the journey. Where did the journey that brought your user to your website start? Where did the user go after your website? What occurred in their life that triggered the journey that led them to your website? (Google calls these micro-moments.)
The user journey may use different devices, different channels and may be a combination of both online and offline. Knowing this journey gives you the opportunity to shape the user experience at touchpoints along the way.
Let’s take our tire manufacturer again.
The national news story for the past month has been increased gas prices and how people are going to be paying much more at the pump.
Later that night, they see our tire manufacturer’s commercial telling them about the gas mileage increase from the tire use.
Still in front of the TV, they use their phone to go to the website. They see the gas milage map, they read about other values such as the all-weather technology and learn about how innovative the company is. They read about the founder Danny, and the company history. Among the text and photos, they read quotes from happy, longtime customers such as Tom from PA who loves knowing he “can use the free wifi while waiting in the clean service station.”
They use the website search to see if the tire is available for their car and they can use the phone’s geolocation service to find a service station near them. To seal the deal, they can enter their name and email for an instant coupon code to be scanned at the station for an immediate 20% off installation that day. If they share the experience on facebook or instagram with #mytiresnevertire, they get an additional 5% on the 30,000 mile tire checkup.
While they are in the waiting room at the service station they get free coffee and wifi and if they download the app they can hold their phone up to the cardboard cutout of Danny the founder, and he will “come to life” and tell them a story about the company history. Most customers take a pic of it and put that on their Facebook page telling their friends about the talking cutout experience at the tire service station.
Did you just get goosebumps!?! Did ya? Did ya?
Talk about a valuable, holistic experience! A User Experience process that involves Business, User, Value and Journey can align the business to the user while reducing risk and creating value. That’s how user experience pays off and that’s why UX isn’t something that’s nice to have, it’s an investment you need.
Did you like what you just read? Let’s clap to that! Seriously, go ahead and click on that icon with the hands and clap, clap, clap. I appreciate the appreciation and your time. Thanks for reading!
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