User experience (UX) is part of daily life, from the weekly food shop through to reading a book. We know exactly how to complete these tasks and exactly what to expect.
Yet, if you settled down to your favourite novel to find that the pages were inserted upside down, printed in reverse and you had to read from back to front cover; your reading user experience of the book would be poor to say the least. Apply this same logic online. When a website makes it hard to find information or to complete a task, user experience is soured with frustration. A good UX is the art of ensuring that everything is clear to the user, always being a step ahead by pre-empting questions with solutions.
Crafting an effective UX hinges upon understanding and empathising with your target audience; their motivations, their ambitions and how they interact with your company. The process in its most basic form is all about making the online experience as easy and frustration-free as possible for your customer. Not to be confused with UI, User Interface, which concentrates upon the aesthetics of design. User Experience covers a plethora of considerations, from streamlining the transactional journey to optimising your site for maximum speed. Would you believe us if we told you that if your website took longer than 3 seconds to load, 53% of mobile users would abandon the search entirely? Designing for the age of immediacy is a pivotal part of UX design. Gone are the days in which the user is solely responsible for navigating through a confusing tangled web of pages. Instead, frustrated users will abandon a website in search of a clearer navigation system. To combat cart abandonment, buttons are increasing in size and systems are underlined with subtle (or overt) prompting navigation. Websites are increasingly developed as an experience and not just a service. The most effective websites show empathy for their users and ensure that the purchasing or conversion journey is as easy as possible.
Simple ways to improve UX
User experience is all about creating a simple and seamless experience for each and every user. A useful guide that details these navigational techniques is Laws of UX. The guide details UX 'laws' that are closely linked with psychology. Some of our particular favourites are,
'The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices'
The key is to make the process as simple as possible, as more choices result in a longer decision process which could lead to cart abandonment. By highlighting recommended options, you can avoid overwhelming the user. Zara employ this technique to great effect, creating an intuitive experience that is a master of simplicity. Without superfluous options, the process is efficient and direct.
In short- the faster the better. Ensure your system is running as fast as possible (ideally providing system feedback within 400ms) to maintain user attention.
'The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory'
Break up your text into smaller chunks to make information easy to digest. Group pieces of content together in clusters of 5-9 items for optimum information retention. Apple consistently groups content into groups of between 5 and 9 items, everything from the tool bar to Apple Support is visually chunked.
'People remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better that completed tasks'
This is a universal hook, well-used by soaps and serials to maintain interest by way of a cliff-hanger. The use of a progress bar online provides a visual indication of the stages involved in a complex task, and offer a virtual timeline that increases the likelihood of completion. Amazon are a prime example, utilising this strategy to keep the user informed throughout the transaction process.
How Airbnb built UX for trust
Airbnb designed a user experience structured to inspire trust between two strangers - successfully overriding the 'stranger danger' bias. Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, held a Ted Talk explaining how Airbnb designed UX to build trust- a trust that succeeds in overriding the hesitation of inviting a stranger into your home. According to a research collaboration between Airbnb and Stanford, the more different from ourselves that somebody is – the less we trust them. However, with the inclusion of reviews this trust was far more readily given to people. If a person had more than 10 reviews then everything changed, and a high reputation far outweighed high similarity.
This means that an effective design can, theoretically, overcome an instinctual bias. Airbnb crafted their page specifically to prompt users to share information that would make hosts far more likely to accept the booking- but not too much and not too little. By setting fixed text box sizes containing question prompts in the booking process, they achieved just the right amount of disclosure from potential lodgers.
The successful launch of the Airbnb concept relied heavily on the ability to build trust between host and lodger, and so they designed their UX specifically for trust, subsequently creating a household name.
The impact of user experience (UX) within your site on your target audience is significant. Whether in a positive or detrimental way entirely depends upon the structure of your site. Make sure that you are delivering the best user experience possible by ensuring your online presence is catered to your target audience and their behaviours.
Any questions? Get in touch with us at Hydra Creative to explore further ways to create a user experience that delivers for your clients.