User experience is a critical part of your digital project that will significantly affect the outcome of your project, both initially and well into the future. Getting right is of utmost importance to your team and your client — UX is THE time to ensure that everyone (both internally and externally, including customers) is on the same page about what it is you are doing. At our agency, we strongly believe UX is a critical factor that sets your project, idea and/or client apart from your competition.

Here are our top 6 tips on what to get right when looking at UX in the real world.

Make it all about the USER experience

First and foremost it is ALWAYS about the user journey. Not yours, not your client — it’s all about the users. Its important that whatever their wants and needs are that they are fulfilled in the most simple, beautiful and elegant way — that the user journey is one of pure delight.

There are a large range of tools that you can use here to get this right (user personas, branding guides, user research, existing sitemaps etc), however what we find is the easiest way to approach is to be able to draw simple flowcharts of each user need through to the desired action page on your app/site/EDM e.g.

  1. User wants weekly grocery specials
  2. Visits homepage
  3. Selects store from drop down and receives special specific to chosen store
  4. Presented with popup to signup for weekly specials email

Also note the importance of the word experience — try your best to create an experience, or at least a part of the experience, that creates a positive emotion (also called the ‘WOW’ factor) as this makes people more likely to remember and therefore return to your site or app later.

Make sure you have enough time

As mentioned previously UX is absolutely critical to the success of a project — rushing this phase will result in a rushed outcome that will have to be fixed at greater expense later (particularly in the build phase, as a poorly thought out function will have to be redone before launch).

Make sure you have enough time at the very least to:

  • Get familiar with the content and the audience
  • Draw up a sitemap
  • Complete wireframes for key pages (including mobile versions where applicable)
  • Have AT LEAST 1 review run-through of all the wireframes with an un-informed party (a test user)

Know the basics

Big Call to Actions, correct grid sizes / common layouts for each platform, reduce information overload, setup for reading left to right and other points are all basics you should look for. If you don’t know the basics or need a primer, spend an hour Googling ‘UX basics’.

Start with a content audit and analytics

To get the lowest hanging fruit of any project UX-wise you need to know what users want and then give it to them. You will always have reference material, if you are working on an existing brand/company you will have branding guidelines, website statistics and probably more. If you are starting from scratch look at your competitors and other sites/apps that have a user experience similar to what you would like to have.

Do plenty of paper testing

Once you have drawn your wireframes make sure you test them with an uninitiated user. These tests should focus on the target audience of the product as much as possible, although also do make sure that do hallway testing (testing with other people in the company or at home) as they can pick up the more obvious faults. Be sure to give some context to each test (e.g. find the contact page) and write a set of questions if you can, then leave them to figure things out while you observe.

3 little changes: a case study

Before the final tip let’s look at how the previous 5 tips can work in practice.

One of our clients, The Luggage Professionals, runs one of the largest online stores selling all kinds of luggage to the Australian market. Over the last 12 months here are just a few of the quick changes we have made that have immediately led to 10-20% increases in customer engagement and/or sales.

Show customers you offer the best price

Being a competitive, customer focused company, The Luggage Professionals offer a 5% price beat guarantee on any other competitor. Making this prominent is important as it shows the customer how much you care about their business and makes them far more willing to buy from you.

To communicate this point, we implemented a small fixed top bar in blue that prominently displays the price beat guarantee and links to more information.

User Experience for success   real world UX for now and the future

Pricebeat bar on homepage

Make contacting you on mobile easy

When customers are on mobile devices they have a limited screen with which to sort through information and are only a phone call / Google Map away.

We implemented a quick change to the mobile to display the contact number and links to store locations in the footer, so right from the get go it is easy for the customer to get in touch.

User Experience for success   real world UX for now and the future

Mobile Contact Bar on The Luggage Professionals

Show off your stores

If you are an online retailer having a physical presence builds your credibility and offers a way for people to come and see your goods in person.

For The Luggage Professionals, who have stores in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, having this information displayed clearly is tantamount because it gives customers a chance to try and feel the products they are buying (which for a personal product like luggage is important).

We implemented a couple of small blue boxes with links to each store on the category and product pages to clearly communicate the store information.

User Experience for success   real world UX for now and the future

Blue store information box on The Luggage Professionals

The final tip - You can always be more (or less) right

As Steve Jobs once said:

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them

Keep improving, challenging and pushing the boundaries even after the launch of the project. Conversion optimisation and similar activities show that UX on an ongoing basis can vastly boost the effectiveness of a digital media investment by hundreds or even thousands of percent. Even the small changes such as button sizes and colours can create 10-20% boosts in eCommerce website traffic.

Don’t be afraid to experiment, and make sure when you do you measure, refine and improve.

header image courtesy of Creativedash