Good UX means better experiences for your customers
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User experience design (UX) is a problem-solving discipline that identifies customer problems and helps create software to overcome those problems. To put it simply, UX is how it feels when you use a product. Good UX means a product is easy and enjoyable to use.
Apple, Facebook and Amazon are prime examples of how prioritising excellent design can lead to better quality products, more engaged customers and ultimately, huge competitive advantage.
But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to enjoy the benefits of their approach. Here are four ways UX can boost small businesses and startups, without a large investment of resources.
Identify deal breakers
A deal breaker is a question that must be answered before a customer is willing to complete a transaction. In this instance, a transaction doesn’t necessarily mean a sale but rather becoming a lead, whether that involves registering interest in your product or signing up for a free trial.
To identify what your deal breakers are, you need to carry out qualitative research. This is a key component of the UX design process, helping businesses to get a better idea of a user’s problem and how to solve it.
It involves three basic steps: Talking to your customers, watching them interact with your product and asking for their feedback.
Ask yourself questions like: What information are your customers looking for? Was this information easy to find? Were there any terms they found confusing? The objective here is to uncover any potential psychological barriers so you can front foot them with the right information.
Research we conducted with a mobile network provider, revealed their deal breakers to be: How can I pay? When does my contract start? Are there any additional costs? How fast is the broadband? Can I keep my phone number.
Addressing your deal breakers doesn’t require a costly redesign of your site. More often than not, it’s as simple as presenting the right information in the right place.
Remove technical barriers
Focusing on UX also allows you to identify and remove any technical barriers. These barriers refer to problems with the functionality or usability of the site rather than its content. They’re usually small issues such as too many fields in a form or a confusing call to action on a button.
Nonetheless, these small issues can really frustrate your potential customers and if a customer is frustrated with your site, they’re frustrated with your brand. Don’t undervalue their input.
What may be painfully obvious to you or someone in your organisation, may be completely obscure to someone outside it. Remember, you are not your target audience.
Conducting usability testing doesn’t have to break the bank or pull your product team off urgent projects. You don’t need technical tools or expertise.
All that’s really required from usability testing is an open mind and the ability to be neutral throughout the process. It’s important that you’re not guiding users or asking any leading questions.
Improve your bottom line
When resources are limited, effectively prioritising your spending can be difficult. Every business owner wants to know the impact a decision will have on their bottom line.
Investing heavily in sales or marketing initiatives might seem like the most direct route to revenue but you need to also consider the customer journey.
Doubling your ad spend is great but if you’re sending customers to a sub optimal landing page or website, you’re going to halve your conversion rate. Not only do you lose credibility, you lose prospective customers too.
Most small startups won’t be able to hire a full time UX designer but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an agency or a freelancer to help get the fundamentals right. Investing in UX in the early stages of your growth will lead to greater return on investment down the line.
Bridge the skills gap
The current skills gap in the UK has led to intense competition for talent, particularly in the tech industry. Small businesses are being outbid by larger corporations with big budgets and attractive benefit schemes.
However, what small businesses may lack in funds they often make up for in innovation. Showing a commitment to UX design can be a great way to position your brand as forward-thinking, meaning you’re more likely to attract quality candidates.
According to research by Inc, UX design was one of the most ‘in-demand hard skills’ of 2019 and it’s a trend that’s set to continue for 2020 and beyond.
One option for small business owners looking to improve their UX, is to invest in upskilling their current employees. Online UX courses are a great way to build your team’s skills and satisfy their need for professional growth.
This doesn’t just lead to a better experience for your customers but to better retention of your staff too.
Colman Walsh is the founder and CEO of UX Design Institute, the global leader in UX education and certification.