Creating a positive user experience is very important, but it should not — in fact, can not — trample on your business goals. Even the greatest user experience in the world isn’t worth it if the cost will cause you to be unprofitable.
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- How User Experience Design Pays Back to the Business
Jerod Morris: Welcome to Sites, a podcast by the teams at StudioPress and Copyblogger. In this show, we deliver time-tested insight on the four pillars of a successful WordPress website: content, design, technology, and strategy. We want to help you get a little bit closer to reaching your online goals, one episode at a time.
I’m your host Jerod Morris.
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Welcome to Episode 10 of Sites.
Last week we discussed content, continuing our series on content strategy by discussing how to know exactly what content to deliver to convert more prospects.
This week we move on to design, and once again we are going to feature some simple, brilliant insight from Rafal Tomal, our lead designer at Rainmaker Digital.
You have surely heard about UX design — the “UX” stands for user experience. It won’t surprise you to learn that Rafal believes creating a positive, intuitive, useful experience for users of your website is important.
It’s important to note that doing so should not, in fact, can not, trample on your business goals. Because even the greatest user experience in the world isn’t worth it if the cost will cause you to be unprofitable. That’s simply an unsustainable formula.
Let’s dive in and talk about that more now, with this reading adapted from Rafal’s blog post How User Experience Design Pays Back to the Business.
What does it really mean when we think about designing for better user experience?
We often talk about readability, usability, how it should work, and how it should behave. We focus our attention around the users, their problems and needs. We test, research, optimize, and repeat.
It’s all correct but there is one more big point that it seems like we sometimes forget. UX design — the UX stands for user experience — is not there just to serve users’ needs but also to serve business needs.
Joe Natoli in his book, Think First, calls it a “value loop”:
value loop: creating something that delivers value to users, so that value also comes back to the product’s creator in the form of increased use, efficiency, or good old fashioned dollars and cents.
So, you have to constantly keep thinking about the business needs when designing for user experience. You should really look for that sweet spot between both worlds.
Ok, it all sounds pretty good in theory but how does it translate into real life situations?
Let’s look at some examples.
It’s always a good idea to bring in real examples because that puts all the ideas into some perspective that you can easily relate to.
I’ll try to make it quick and simple, but of course some of these may be way more complex than it sounds.
So, let’s say you’re designing a web app. Designing an effective user onboarding process can be the easiest example to show how UX can benefit both the users and your business.
User onboarding can be an email sequence, a guided tour, or just a simple welcome message explaining some features of your app. Actually, it can really be anything that can help users to be successful in using your product.
For users it can be a huge time saver, and provide an overall good experience since they feel welcomed and guided through the process. It means better retention for your business and fewer support tickets to answer.
Another example could be designing access to your customer support. The goal is clear: to help solve a user’s problems as fast as you can.
If you were looking just from the user’s perspective then probably giving quick and easy access to your support team would be the best solution.
You could add a live chat and always have someone available 24/7 whenever your user has a question. You could add a “Get Help” link at the top in your navigation and everywhere around the site so it’s easy to find it and file a support ticket.
However, this could kill the business because the support cost would skyrocket.
You need to find a solution that helps your customers while still being cost effective. That’s where the real challenge is.
So, your solution could be adding a knowledge base with tutorials, guides, and frequently asked questions. You could help users find answers for their problems on their own to limit the need to contact the support team.
The challenge here is to make sure that such a knowledge base is frequently updated, comprehensive, and that it’s all supported with an advanced search functionality.
Then you can keep optimizing and improving it, so users can find answers faster while maintaining a lower volume of support tickets.
If executed well, it would be a win-win situation with benefits for both users and the business. You have to sacrifice a little bit on both sides but it’s all good as far as you find the middle ground.
Of course, keep in mind that every business is different. In some cases, providing accessible support can bring so much value to customers that it would pay back to the business in a long term and cover such a level of customer support.
I’m not giving any final solutions here, just some examples.
Want an example about how good UX design can impact sales? That’s coming up next.
How about increasing sales?
There are many examples of how good UX can help you increase sales based on how you design your sales page, shopping cart, checkout page, or even your service questionnaire form.
I like looking at the bigger picture when designing websites. How do users behave on your website and what are they looking for? What path do they take from the moment they enter the site to when they purchase your product?
Let’s imagine designing a new home page for a company that sells some digital products.
The current home page displays some of the most popular products with a prominent “Buy Now” button and a secondary “learn more” link.
A false assumption could be that if you put the “Buy Now” button right in front of your users, they just cannot miss it.
If you start watching your users’ behavior, you may realize that they actually wander around your site, read more about the product, and look for some specific information before they’re ready to purchase the product.
The more expensive the product the more information it needs, of course.
So, your redesign could put more information on the home page, and link to product sales pages with all the features, screenshots, social proof, and the actual call to action somewhere in the middle of the page and at the bottom of the page.
That way your users can easily get all the information they need to make a purchase decision (benefit of users), and the business gets more sales, a higher conversion rate, and better customers (fewer refunds since customers are better educated about the product).
And all of this can be done just by observing the users, enhancing their experience, and providing them with what they really need instead of trying to force them to walk a completely different path.
Again, in some cases, your user testing could show something completely different. It could appear that users are so well-educated about the products you’re selling that they don’t need to learn more about it and are looking for the fastest way to purchase it.
That’s why it’s so important to learn more about your users, their needs, and their behavior on your website. You should never make any assumptions based on someone else’s research or testing.
I think it’s worth remembering that user experience design wouldn’t really make any sense if it didn’t give value back to the business.
It’s also work that is never truly finished, because you can keep measuring, optimizing, testing, and iterating new solutions.
Fortunately, it’s time that you shouldn’t classify as being well spent, but instead well-invested.
This was a reading the was adapted from Rafal Tomal’s blog post How User Experience Design Pays Back to the Business.
Now stick around … this week’s hyper-specific call to action is coming up.
Call to action
For this week’s call to action, I’m going to suggest you do something that I, myself, try to do on a somewhat regular basis.
That is: go through your purchase and user onboarding processes as a user. Sign up for an account or purchase a product just like your user would and experience exactly what they experience. Pay attention to things like:
- How is the purchase process? Is it intuitive?
- Does the thank you page set the right tone and provide useful information for what to do next?
- Does the timing of your onboarding emails make sense? Do they provide timely value?
- Does any part of the process throw you off guard or not make sense?
It can be really easy to set an onboarding process and forget about it, and think we’ve gotten it all right so we don’t need to test it. But challenge your own satisfaction in this regard. Go that extra mile for your customers and potential customers to be sure that the user experience you’re giving them is a good one … and, crucially, that it also makes sense for your business.
- Is there an opportunity to upsell on the thank you page?
- Is there another offer you could work into the onboarding autoresponder?
- Are there places where you can offer help at a critical time that people will appreciate and that will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty? That could lead to more referral business.
So do that. And keep it simple, don’t overwhelm yourself. Do it for one product, one onboarding sequence. Take notes as you go. And then make improvements.
As Rafal said in his piece, “You can keep measuring, optimizing, testing, and iterating new solutions.” Take this opportunity to do exactly that.
Okay — coming next week, we’re talking technology. And this is another topic that isn’t necessarily fun or sexy — in fact, it’s kind of scary — but it is absolutely paramount to the sustainability and success of your site: security. Don’t miss that discussion.
That’s next week, on Sites.
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And with that, we come to the close of another episode. Thank you for listening to this episode of Sites. I appreciate you being here.
Join me next time, and let’s keep building powerful, successful WordPress websites together.
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