The importance of user experience (UX) has exploded in the era of ubiquitous personal computers, tablets and smartphones. Poor UX is a major reason apps and websites deliver disappointing business results.
UX is the discipline that strives to make complex devices easy to use. Outside of computing devices, it applies to everyday objects, including cars, elevators, ATMs, toothbrushes, cappuccino makers and airplanes. Superior UX is critical in life-and-death situations that aircraft pilots and nuclear power plant operators face.
UX design enhances end-user satisfaction with your apps by improving the user experience. Superior UX produces superior business results. Studies show that companies that invest in UX are rewarded by:
- higher sales per customer and customer session;
- increased customer retention;
- growing market awareness and reputation;
- lower cost for new customer acquisition;
- lower business support costs;
- fewer shopping cart abandonments;
- reduced product return rates;
- fewer time-wasting customer complaints;
- increased market share.
Below is my list of the top issues that can undermine or improve user experience. This list should help you identify what’s causing disappointing business results from your apps and websites.
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It’s difficult to make data-driven decisions about improving the user experience you deliver when you have no data about how your users use your apps.
For ideas about what data to collect and review to improve user experience, read this web page about App Experience Analytics.
We’re all impatient. No one wants to wait for pages to load on an app or a website.
Reduce wait times by adhering to these design guidelines:
- display only a modest amount of text;
- avoid giant images;
- compress all graphics files;
- don’t preload the first part of a video;
- minimize the number of pop-ups and overlays;
- ensure adequate server and network capacity.
Loading just enough information to fill the screen delivers a fast response on long web pages or extensive search results. Load more information only if the end-user actually chooses to scroll down. Google and LinkedIn illustrate this approach very well.
Ideally, no app will ever produce a 404 page not found error. Because that’s unrealistic, at least display a web page that apologizes and provides navigation choices that strive to keep the end-user on your app. Air Canada, Amazon and many other apps handle this case well.
Similarly, apps should not return a 500 internal server error. This error points to poor operation of the underlying computing infrastructure and inadequate app testing. Improve your management processes or those of your vendors if you encounter this error.
Are your web pages missing graphics? Most apps require a supporting content management system to minimize missing graphics and manage web page content development and versioning.
Every app should provide visual feedback for end-user actions.
Can I tell if I’m correctly logged in or not? Display the end-user name somewhere on every web page. The top right is a convention that many apps have adopted.
Am I actually receiving the discount I was promised on a previous web page when I reach the checkout page? Make the discount amount explicit as a separate line on the checkout page.
Keeping app content current and relevant is an ongoing task. Display content so that the most recent information is at the top of the page.
If your company is still displaying pages related to an event or a sale that occurred in the past, then your content strategy needs work.
Similarly, your website needs enough content to keep end-users interested in staying.
We’ve all tried unsuccessfully to use our smartphone to view a website designed for a typical workstation monitor. Apps are expected to look great and work well on the varying screen sizes on personal computers, tablets and smartphones.
App designers have developed responsive and adaptive design philosophies to meet this challenge. Debating which philosophy to adopt can take on religious overtones.
Adaptive is often the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to convert significant existing large-screen website applications to function well as apps. Responsive is often more expensive but provides more flexibility and may be more future-proof.
It’s incredible how confusing navigation can become. End-users go around in circles until they leave frustrated without ever finding the web page they’re sure exists.
Pull-down menus are a must. Displaying links to related content at the bottom of web pages has become a valuable feature to entice users to linger.
Perversely, Google indexes many websites better than the website owner. Your action is to improve the indexing that supports your search box.
UX resources to explore
The web contains a vast body of knowledge related to user experience that you can easily access by searching.
For an expanded list of issues and features to consider that will improve user experience, read the Usability Checklist.
You may find it helpful to read this monograph: Mobile UX Design Constraints, Best Practices, and Working with Developers.
Unsurprisingly, software packages have been developed to help your company quickly understand user experience weaknesses related to your apps’ design or technical issues. Read summary reviews at this link.
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.
For interview requests, click here.
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