Let’s Talk About User Experience
Let me just preface this post by saying that I am NOT a user experience expert, and my entire knowledge on the subject has come from reading various blogs or having conversations with other marketers that have dealt with UX. However, I am currently reading ‘The Elements of User Experience‘, so things are getting serious.
I’ve been thinking a lot about user experience (UX) lately; what it really means, why it’s important, how much time and emphasis to place on it, and more.
User Experience Online
In The Elements of User Experience, the author discusses how user experience principles and decisions can and should be made at every level of the development process. This applies for any type of website or application, whether functional in form (think e-commerce or customer services) or more content focused (think news sites or blogs).
A lot of people might have only considered user experience when looking at an existing website, saying ‘How can we improve the experience here’, with the goal of improving conversions. While this is important, and definitely ties into conversion optimization, it’s important to recognize that user experience should be considered from the very beginning of a project; from the initial strategy discussion, to putting final touches on the finished product.
Considering User Experience Offline
The concept of user experience is really popular right now, and rightly so. But have you thought about taking those principles outside of a website or app? Clearly, popular companies such as Apple and Starbucks carefully consider almost every possible customer interaction, not just online, but in their retail stores, where customers interact with employees and (hopefully) make purchases. Apple is obvious; with an impeccable store design and layout, numerous floor models to test, plenty of ‘Geniuses’ on hand to help, all equipped to take your purchase anywhere in the store.
A little more thought may be required when considering Starbucks. Most of us immediately think of the store design and the cozy atmosphere. It’s no coincidence that people hang out or work there all day. Have you ever considered other factors, such as the condiment bar, where you can choose the milk or sweetener you want, and how much goes in? Personally, this is why I choose Starbucks. I like skim milk in my coffee and not a lot, either. Asking an employee at Dunkin Donuts for ‘just a little skim milk’ is like playing coffee roulette, and I usually lose. It might not seem like a big deal, but being able to create my coffee EXACTLY how I like it is big. I can also pay with my phone and earn rewards, sure, but why pay for coffee elsewhere if I can’t get it exactly how I want it?
User Experience is For Everyone
The best part of UX is you don’t have to be a huge company to consider these little steps that can transform occasional visitors into loyal customers. If you’re a local coffee shop, let the customer fix their drink to their liking, and give more options than just half and half (I’m looking at you, Intelligentsia). Own a restaurant? Be flexible with how you take payment; let groups split up the bill so they don’t have to worry about who has cash, who has to pay back who, etc.
Cut down as many barriers to purchase or satisfaction as feasibly possible, be empathetic to the customer, and follow the elements of user experience. Caring about your customers doesn’t have a size requirement.