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  • What is UX (User Experience)?
  • How can UX help my business succeed?
  • How do I create a good UX?

UX, or user experience, is every interaction your business has with your audience on your website, mobile site, apps, and online properties and/or services.

Okay, deep breath. We know that might sound a bit overwhelming at first. But let’s try describing it a different way: UX is like hosting a dinner party.

To create an enjoyable night for your guests and make sure everything goes smoothly, you’d probably plan out the experience from start to finish. That means you’d need to think about more than just what time dinner is served.

What else should I plan?

  • Dietary restrictions
  • Silverware, plates, glasses
  • The age range of your guests
  • Type of guests (friends, family, or coworkers)
  • Pre-dinner entertainment/activity
  • Post-dinner entertainment/activity

Not care; A meteor strike, alien invasion, or other natural disasters.

You could plan for a natural disaster, but the likelihood of one happening is pretty slim. It’s way more important to think about the type of guests you have, their age, activities, dinnerware, and dietary restrictions. These details (and a whole lot more) can all affect your guests’ enjoyment.

Just like planning a dinner party, UX is about paying attention to small details so you can create enjoyable online and app experiences for your audience.

At first, it might be tempting to only think about details that help communicate what YOU want people to know (like information about your products and services) and what YOU want them to do (like clicking the “buy now” button).

But you also need to think about how your online and app experiences are making people feel. Are you confusing them? Are you coming off as cold and uncaring? Are you rushing them or being too demanding?

Strong UX arranges all your information and interactions in a way that’s pleasing to people. And, when the UX of your site or app makes people feel good, they’re more likely to stick around and become your customers.

Many businesses find it helpful to hire a UX designer. Even if you decide to go this route, it’s a smart idea to get into the “good UX” mindset on your own. An essential part of this is thinking like a potential customer instead of a business owner.

As a potential customer, what actions would you want to take on your site or in your app? Write all of these actions down on separate sticky notes.

For example, some actions would be: find information, watch videos, make comments, research products or services, buy those products or services, and watch videos.

Arrange your actions/sticky notes in the order that potential customers would do them (AKA a user flow). You may need to make duplicate sticky notes since some actions can happen multiple times on your site or in your app.

Make sure each action can be completed in 5 steps or less. For example, to “make a purchase,” people would need to: 1) land on the homepage, 2) click the product category, 3) click the product page, 4) check out.

It’s smart to do this exercise even if your site or app is already live. To help, you can have a friend go through your site or app and give you feedback. Use the sticky notes to write down actions that your site or app currently has, and any actions you need to add.

Now, use different coloured notes to map out what feelings or emotions you want people to have when they complete an action.

For example, when people land on your homepage, you might want them to feel welcomed, excited, and curious. Or when they make a purchase, you might want them to feel satisfied and happy.

Your UX can evoke these different feelings via a combination of shapes, colours, navigation, content, and/or sounds. The right mixture of elements depends on your brand’s identity, voice, and style, as well as who your target audience is.

Let’s say you own a spa with a luxurious brand identity, and you want people to feel calm and peaceful when they visit your homepage. You’d probably use tranquil sounds and a sophisticated design instead of loud music and neon colours.

You’re now ready to sketch out how each page or frame of your site or app should look. You can do this using a whiteboard or a notepad.

This will help you get a better sense of what actions need to happen on which pages, and what elements need to be on each page to help people complete those actions.

For example, if a spa wants people to easily choose their preferred treatment category from the homepage, the sketch of that page needs to include buttons to all categories: massages, waxing, body treatments, and facials.

You can use the UX flow you created on your sticky notes and sketches as an outline or plan for building your website, mobile site, or app.

If you have the budget, you can hire a designer to create your site. But, if you’d like to go it alone, you can use online tools like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly to build your site.

If you’re building a mobile app, you’ll probably need to hire both a designer and a developer to help you out, unless you’ve got some serious coding skills.

The marketing that leads to your site or app should match your UX. If the UX of your site is designed to give visitors a relaxed, no-pressure exploration of your offerings, then you should probably avoid online ads that say, “TIME IS RUNNING OUT! BUY NOW!!!”

How do you know if your UX is working as hard as it should? By testing early and often, and making any tweaks or changes as necessary.

If you have the budget, you can run user experience research before you launch your site or app. This type of research gives you usability feedback from people who are representative of your target audience.

Also, A/B testing different UX designs for your site or app can help you determine which UX best helps you and your customers reach your goals.

If you don’t have extra budget for testing, you can still do an informal version of A/B testing while you’re in the sticky note phase. Just come up with different options for actions and flows, and test them with friends and associates.

Ask them which actions and flows work the best. Have them show you how they’d complete each action. Make sure the questions you ask are open-ended (not yes or no) and focus on clarity and efficiency.

To-do list

  • Define your target audience
  • Determine your budget for creating your site or app
  • Decide whether or not you’ll hire a UX designer
  • Define your brand Identity
  • List emotions or feelings you’d associate with your brand identity
  • List every point of contact between you and customers before, during, and after their site/app visit.
  • List all actions potential customers would want to take on your site/app
  • Identify friends or associates you could rely on for informal A/B testing

Once you’ve finished your to-do list, the next step is to grab a bunch of sticky notes and start putting your actions into a user flow.

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer

Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

Designer and Project Manager who loves crafting big ideas and is passionate about designing meaningful experiences that can influence positive change and help make the world a better place.

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