What the heck’s UX?

Remember a few years back? SEO was the acronym on every marketer’s lips, and it was being bandied about as the saviour of all things digital. However, there were misunderstandings as to exactly what it was. At first, SEO was seen as a dark art and it was a good five years before the light dawned.

Fast-forward to 2015 and a new acronym is now stalking the floors of marketing departments: UX. This time however, there are no magic tricks involved, and we’re here to tell you that it’s simpler than you think.

What UX is, and what it isn’t.

UX is an overarching term meaning “user experience.” People often confuse it with UI (user interface), and sometimes even combine the terms as “UX/UI.” Don’t listen to them: they’re wrong. True, both of these terms have a great deal of crossover, especially as they’re both design disciplines, but there are key differences.

UX is mostly strategic design, concerning itself with user flows, customer journeys, architecture and strategy for business or brand experiences. UI on the other hand, is mostly creative look and feel; applying brand-book design principles; that sort of thing. Try thinking it as the difference between a house and a home:

UI is like a house. A house gets its charm from the way it looks (both inside and out), its location and the style in which it’s decorated. However, whether all of those things are “right” is largely subjective. It’s the same with UI design: if your website looks rubbish, people will bounce. It takes people fractions of a second to decide if a place – be it house or website – is the kind of place they want to be.

UX is like a home. A home is where you experience things: day-to-day events, family time, meals, TV, life itself. It’s all the personal touches you made to turn it from a mere house into an actual home: the Italian sofa, the smart 4K 3D TV, the novelty doorbell… Everything enhances the experience, making it a place you want to be.

UX - Blog illustrations-03

What UX is not however, is a magic cure to all your business problems. It needs to be deep rooted within your business strategy, otherwise it’s going to be completely pointless. It must be aligned to a number of clearly-defined KPI’s in order to be successful. 

How to maximise investment out of UX

You need to start building UX into your brand’s DNA straight away. This takes time, so you should set aside a good 3-6 months to get it right. Here are five tips to help:

  1. FIND THE RIGHT STARTING POINT FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Many marketers get it wrong before they even start. It usually begins with alarm bells from an under-performing website leading to crisis budget talks, panicked briefs sent to agencies and ultimately, no change whatsoever. Don’t fall into this trap. Take a long hard look at things, before they go wrong, and decide if UX is for you. 

  1. UNDERSTAND HOW SMALL INFLUENCES BIG (AND VICE-VERSA)

Your website is only a small part of your UX strategy, even though it seems like the biggest. As confusing as this may sound, UX has to connect with all parts of your business. Don’t start with the obvious (new wireframes, a (yawn) ‘responsive’ design) because google analytics told you to: start small. Begin with your customer service strategy, then work upwards. 

  1. RESPECT BUSY PEOPLE

Don’t be an oversharer. Cram your site full of information and your audience will be overwhelmed by the amount of content they have to wade through. UX and CS (content strategy) need to work in harmony. Think of each step in the conversion process as a short chapter in a story and give people an experience that is manageable. As a final tip, base this on your GA dwell times: it’ll give people a reason to come back.

  1. START PLANNING FOR REPEAT VISITS ASAP

Unless you’re the Glastonbury ticket website, most people won’t buy or book something on the spot. They want to feel they’re making the right decision before committing, so it’ll take several visits to gain their trust and confidence. Ask yourself: is your offering exciting enough that people want to come back? Benchmark this against sites you visit often and strip away the context to see what principles you can pinch from them. Quote Mr Wilde: “talent borrows: genius steals.”

  1. IF YOU’RE GOING TO START WITH ONE CHANGE, CHANGE THIS

Look at your site. Look at your call-to-actions. Don’t ask for data now, on the off chance you might need it in the distant future, as data greed cripples offerings. If you are lucky enough to get some data, then make sure you reward the user properly… a ‘cheers for that’ confirmation page is not good enough. Tell them what happens next and, if possible, delight them with something they weren’t expecting to get. Discounts and offers always go down well. 

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And that’s that. We hope you’ve learned a thing or two, and if you’ve started thinking a little more about UX, all the better. Our next article will look at UX and how it impacts technology.

Click here to find out a bit more about how we handle UX at Creative Spark – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EEWiwd9pXQ

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Alastair Dickie

23rd November 2016