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How to improve your UX in four straightforward steps

How to improve your UX in four straightforward steps
Liz Parham
Liz Parham
UX & user research specialist
Liz Parham UX
 

Posted: Tue 15th Dec 2020

For the focus of this post, we'll refer to user experience (UX) in the following way: user experience refers to how a user - a customer - experiences their interactions with your website.

You can and should also zoom out and consider the wider experience covering this interaction with your services, products, brand and communications as a whole. However, let's start with the website.

Different aspects that affect UX include:

  • Copy: The tone and quality of writing

  • Content: How appealing, relevant and credible it is

  • Page flow: How you get from where you land to what is of interest

  • 'Findability' of content: How quickly and easily users find what they need. This involves the menu category labels, the search function and information 'scent' that leads the user from one area to another

  • Visual design: The impressions and emotions evoked by the visual styling, and how consistent this is with the branding

  • Interaction design: What happens when you click or tap on something and how smooth, consistent and well anticipated that is

  • Technical performance: No lags or issues using difference devices

How these all come together creates the user experience.

Consider the above as vertical pillars. When customers use your website, they move through all of them. It's normally quite clear when one of these aspects is weaker than the others. However, user pathways transverse all these areas and there may be blocks in different steps.

In order to improve the UX, you need to know where it's at right now. As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it." Once you know where to focus your efforts, you can plan and define a way to measure progress.

Step one: Gather data

You might have some data already from customer feedback and analytics. For example: questions from customers, emails asking for help, or complaints and praise on your social media channels.

From the analytics tools available, you might know where people spend their time on your website, which page they land on and where they drop off, how many people add to cart and complete, or at which step they leave it.

You still might not know why these things are happening, but we will come back to that later.

Does one area stand out as being especially problematic?

If it's early days, you might not have a great deal of information of this kind, so it is worth putting the systems in place so you can revisit in the future when you have more traffic. For now, move on to step two.

Step two: Define the critical pathways for your business

Every website or app has a core function. Imagine your website must do one thing; what is that one thing?

My recommendation is to think about the core function(s) and list them out. From there you can prioritise the top one to three if you have more than one.

Examples could be:

  • Make sales

  • Sign up to your newsletter

  • Register for my membership group

  • See up-to-date financial report

  • Collaborate with team on projects

Don't forget the simple ones such as:

  • Understand what my business does

  • Learn how to engage my services

Start with the most important that is specific to your website and business goals.

Look at the different steps the core function requires. For example: Arrives on blog post - clicks on product description - adds to basket - clicks on upsell item - goes to basket - chooses delivery - chooses payment option - confirmation.

Step three: Decide what is important to your customers

Have empathy. What is your user trying to achieve? If we think it is to buy a product online, we will likely miss something important. If we find out it is to get a great birthday present at a bargain price, it changes the focus.

Step four: What level of UX are you aiming for? Where are you now?

Decide this depending on the customer-centricity of your business, its maturity and your competition. The greater the level, the greater value you can offer customers and differentiate.

Basic/zero

This is perhaps not much more than a prototype. The UX is pretty raw.

Typical

This is in line with many other solutions out there to date. It does not delight, it might not be that easy, it is uninspiring, but does the job. Note: over time, expectations rise as technology improves; make sure you're keeping up!

Competitive

Whether a customer chooses your products will not depend on the UX but on another factor, such as price or relatability. The UX is as good as the other solutions in its class.

Above average

Here you've put the work in to find the best ways to make your offering shine. People might prefer your solution over another because it is that much easier, simpler, clearer, cooler or quicker.

Life changing

This is ground-breaking, beats any other solution to date and literally changes lives for the better. At this level, the experience is at the broader solution level encompassing all the touch points. The brand is user-centred and the customers feel it.

With the information you've pieced together, can a user:

  • Complete a critical process? If so, was it:

  • Without help?

  • Without frustration?

  • Without confusion?

  • If not, where did the problem(s) lie? In which layer was it? Technical, visual, linguistic, cultural, navigational etc?

Now you've got clearer idea on where you are and where you want to be.

If you're still not sure, next time we will look at how to use these points in conversation with customers to test the website out. Here's what's coming next in this mini series:

  • Know your customers and how to talk to them

  • How to add features without things getting clunky

  • UX tools that might help you

Need help with your own UX efforts? Don't hesitate to connect with Liz - she's a trusted Enterprise Nation adviser, and would be happy to help.

 
Liz Parham
Liz Parham
UX & user research specialist
Liz Parham UX
 
MSc E-commerce graduate, specialist in user experience (UX) and user research. My name is Liz and I have worked in UX (user experience) and user research for well over a decade where I’ve seen many companies struggle to apply the UX books and blog posts they found compelling to their own products and customers.  With my experience, I am able to see what the fundamentals were and how to adapt them to different contexts and cases. As a hugely passionate proponent of user-centred techniques for product development, I would love more companies to be able to do so too. If you can identify with wading through dozens of UX books, webinars and blog posts wondering where to start, or maybe you're new to UX but also want to end the endless tinkering of your interface, let's talk and see how I might be able to help you get results!
 

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