Technology

How to improve your user experience

The online global marketplace is now the main platform where businesses compete for the business of user’s search for their products and services. Merely having a website does not guarantee that users will find your site and choose to do business with you. Many businesses are ensuring that they have an advantage over their competitors by providing high levels of User Experience (UX).

UX focuses on the elements of website design that take your customers overall experience on your site into consideration. UX is all about finding ways to improve that experience, from navigating through your site to whether or not your design is responsive on both desktop and mobile devices. If done right UX can help to boost your online sales by streamlining the user’s journey.

If you want to take your website to the next level and improve the on-site experience for your customers, we have spoken to successful startups in order to find out about experiences with UX development.

First up we have advice from Brad Binding, founder of TakenPlace. TakenPlace enables users to earn money from their photography by making the images available to buyers looking for stock photography.

How do you define user experience?

Users starts the first time a potential customer ‘walks past your shop window’. Online this tends to be seeing an advert, your logo or a landing page and it never ends.  This means that all things must be equal in their excellence. Consistent in language, approach and most importantly of all clear! A customer may only visit you once but they will hold that experience, by comparison, for many years to come.

In what ways do you help clients with user experience?

As I’ve mentioned we were constrained by time & budget but wanted to ensure the best experience for ALL our users. We kept the cornerstones of Ease, Clarity and direction through a couple of simple rules:   We maintain key elements of the site throughout using a fixed banner. This provides a way for users to trigger they key functions at any time. We integrated common social media elements to make it easier – i.e., Facebook accounts We made the complex upload process as simple as possible: It takes 4 clicks to upload a photo on both phones & desktop machines. We use the information integrated in the photos to limit the data entry, which can be cumbersome on smaller screens, and ensured that all our screens were responsive.   As we offer our service to both amateur & professional photographers we wanted to make sure it was easy for everyone to get the most out of our site. this mean making it easy to find images at your location, to share images and for them to be sold to buyers. The end result is ease for everyone, a new stock photography experience for our business buyers and bonus income for photographers at all levels.

What impact has “mobilegeddon” had on the future of user experience?

This isn’t a phrase I recognise or respect in terms of its application. It implies that this is a sudden and catastrophic event but that isn’t the case. Mobile has been creeping along ever since the first “rabbit” phones gave us the experience of calling home from our local supermarket. The most notable change is in the recognition that people want to do everything from their phone or tablet so it should be considered as equally important for any consumer focused service. When we approached our service we were forced to make the hard decision early: website or app. We considered all aspects of its use, our customer profiles and what we could and couldn’t offer via each mechanism. Sure it’d be extremely easy to say “Everyone uses apps now, so let’s do that” but what about the professionals, the avid mac users or people at the office? The middle road is the use of mobile responsive sites and technologies to give the best experience for everyone. It’s not perfect but (in the case of TakenPlace) we don’t unnecessarily exclude those who choose to use a computer.

What simple steps can startups take improve user experience for their customers?   

Consider your users (empathise not sympathise). Every start-up will have challenges but it’s very easy to blame time or budget for a decision that pins you into a corner and can end up defining how you approach UI. Yes, it has to be easy (I always challenge that any function should be no more than 4 clicks away) but no rule will always ring true. Your service/shop/business has needs to. Start simple by asking yourself the following questions. What do you need and what does your customer need? Does the experience flow to where you want? Do they leave ‘your shop’ happy and ready to spread the word?

Next we have insights from Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal. GreenPal is a platform that enables users to access local rated lawn care services. The service providers then have the opportunity to bid for the user’s custom.

How do you define user experience?  

I feel that the terms UX and UI are unfortunately blurred together and often confused.  UI refers to the interface that your user interacts with on your product as well as the layout of the individual views and workflow.  This needs to be thought out not only from ease of use standpoint but more importantly using conversion cantered design so users intuitively and naturally take the necessary actions to accomplish your business objectives.  UX not only encompasses how the product makes a user feel and elements of the product that delights them but also goes a step further and refers to the user’s’ entire experience with the entire product.  Most products today have an offline component; Uber is a solid example.  Uber’s user experience encompasses numerous offline factors such as how long you have to wait for a ride and if the driver was polite or not to name a few.   

In what ways do you help clients with user experience?  

We truly believe the voice of the user is the best way to inform UX and smart product iterations. Recently we integrated live chat into our product which enables us to speak with users live while they are using our app.  This has really been an eye opening experience to identify where we were confusing them and opportunities for improvement in our workflow, information architecture, and copy.   While it’s dangerous to lean too heavily on live chat as a crutch for the product, it can really help focus product improvements in right places where users are continually getting stuck or are confused.  

What impact has “mobilegeddon” had on the future of user experience?  

It’s tough.  While the ubiquitous connectivity of mobile unlocks so many new startup opportunities, most startups will really need to be competent at desktop and mobile product development.  In some cases a start can be “mobile first” or even only mobile, however, mobile’s growth has not come at the expense of desktop, it has just grown the pie of use cases.  So most startups will still need to have a clean crisp product experience on both desktop and mobile.  The advance of cross platform and responsive frameworks make it somewhat easier than say 3 years ago to have a mobile presence, however, in most cases the startup will have to build for mobile, and separately build for desktop to meet the expectations of today’s users.    

What simple steps can startups take improve user experience for their customers?  

Talk to users as much as possible.  Whether in live chat, in person usability tests, or online usability tests, always be running them.  Also startup team members need to be dogfooding their own product.  For us, we all have our lawns mowed with GreenPal, and I also run a lawn mowing vendor account as well cutting lawns for our users.  This gives us first person feedback on where our product is lacking.  There are just some many contextual situations in most products that dogfooding is imperative.  Also, signup for your product once a week.  This will tell you if something is broken, but more importantly, as you are speaking with customers, your understanding of customer logic improves and gets stronger and stronger.  You will be able to see your on-boarding flow better over time with the customer insight you are gaining through customer feedback.

We hope that these insights have inspired you to streamline your online approach to user experience.

Author Bio: Gareth Bull is the Director of Bulldog Digital Media. Bulldog helps SMEs drive sales and increase brand awareness through social media and organic SEO.

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elliott

elliott

Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.