WaterRower

Our Guide to UX Design

Why UX Design Is Important for Your Business

When it comes to online marketing, most businesses understand that they must invest money into search engine marketing and/or social media campaigns to attract new customers and grow their brand. However, we often notice that the business value of UX design is either totally overlooked or undervalued.

This blog will explain exactly why UX design is so essential to any online marketing strategy. In order to do so, we will answer the following questions:

  1. What is UX design?
  2. What is the UX design process?
  3. Why is UX design so important?
  4. What makes “good UX”?

What Is UX Design?

User experience (UX) refers to the overall experience that a person has whilst interacting with your site, accounting for their emotions, perceptions, and expectations. UX design, therefore, is all about placing the user at the center of all design decisions and ensuring that your website is enjoyable and easy to use.

You will often hear UX design alongside the term UI (user interface) design, a closely related but slightly different concept. Whilst UX design is concerned with how your site makes the user feel (e.g. frustrated or delighted by a checkout process), UI design is concerned with how the site looks (e.g. the design of the CTA buttons and form fields that the user interacts with).

Given that the user will experience your website through its visual UI elements, you will typically see agencies offering UI & UX design services together. Although they are technically separate practices, it’s very hard to have one without the other.

The UX Research & Design Process

So, if UX design is all about creating a site that your users will find easy and enjoyable to use, the first step is about understanding their needs, wants, and expectations. Clearly, you must get to know your audience before you can solve their pain points. The way to do this is through user (or UX) research.

Only after gathering data about how your audience feel about your site – and drawing conclusions from it – can you design a website that actually caters for them. There are a number of different ways to conduct user research and gather such data, including:

  • Session recordings: by using software that records user sessions, such as Mouseflow, you’re able to watch back and analyze real-life customers interacting with your site. If you notice multiple users encountering the same issue, it’s a good indication that this issue is affecting website performance.
  • A/B testing: this is a great way to test different designs and allow your users to choose which one is most effective. Present your audience with two or more versions of the same webpage and see which one produces more desired actions (e.g. clicks) or a higher conversion rate.
  • Customer feedback: although they may be deemed “old-school”, surveys and questionnaires are also a great way to gain invaluable insight into how customers perceive your website. However, keeping these surveys or questionnaires short and sweet is key.

The information that you gather during user research must be incorporated in the design process. For instance, you may notice through screen recordings that people are proceeding to checkout but then quickly abandoning their cart. This should prompt you to analyze your checkout process. Are there too many form fields? Are you providing enough payment options?

When you have drawn your conclusions as to why this might be happening, it’s now time to design a checkout that solves any UX pain points. Through continued user research, you will be able to see whether your hypothesis was correct. Has your shopping cart abandonment rate now dropped? Is it taking a shorter time for users to complete the checkout process? Your design decision should be constantly informed by real-life user research data.

The Importance of UX Design

Your website’s UX design is inextricably linked to the success of your business. Put simply, here’s why:

UX customer satisfaction diagram

Customer Satisfaction

Good UX will delight your users and bad UX will frustrate them. For those who don’t regard this statement as self-evident, perhaps the following analogy will help.

If you go to a clothing shop on your local high street, you’re more likely to come out of it a happy customer if there is – for example – a helpful shopping assistant. The digital equivalent of this physical interaction would be a website with good UX. In other words, you’re much more likely to enjoy your shopping experience on an eCommerce store when you find it easy to navigate. In both cases, whether it is a helpful shop assistant or useful navigational aids, your journey to finding the right product is made smoother.

So, when your website is designed to be easy and enjoyable to use, it’s no surprise that the inevitable product is satisfied customers!

Conversion Rate

Making your customers happy is great, but why does that mean that your site’s UX design will impact the success of your business?

The answer: a site that delights will also convert.

While the primary goal of UX design is not to improve your conversion rate, a boost in conversions is a pretty handy by-product of creating a website with seamless UX. That’s because, as countless studies have proven, a positive customer experience makes it far more likely that any interaction ends in a conversion. For instance, Forrester found that better UX design could lead to a 400% uplift in conversion rate!

Customer Loyalty

The most valuable thing about a website with good UX is that it cultivates customer loyalty. An enjoyable online shopping experience will lead to repeat purchases/conversions, not just one-offs.

It’s unsurprising, then, that HubSpot found 88% of users are less likely to return to a site with poor UX. Equally, PWC found that 32% of consumers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. If you are not consistently paying attention to your website’s UX design, you will be losing out on loyal customers willing to spend thousands of dirhams on your brand every year.

What Makes a Good User Experience?

Now that you understand why UX design is so important, we will now explain how to create a website that naturally encourages engagement, conversions, and customer loyalty.

Although good UX is all about understanding and looking after your specific audience (different demographics may have different requirements), there are still a number of best practices which apply to all website that you should follow. These include:

Simple Site Navigation

The ultimate goal of your website should be to guide your user to the product/service that they are after, making this journey as enjoyable and frictionless as possible. Simple website navigation is essential to doing so. In fact, a survey by Clutch found that 94% of consumers say that any website they use must be easy to navigate.

There are a number of considerations when it comes to website navigation, including:

  • Call-to-action (CTA) buttons: bold and descriptive CTAs should help direct your users to your site’s main offers.
  • Menu: simplicity is key when it comes to your menu choice – are your products/services neatly organized e.g. via a drop-down menu?
  • On-site search: some people will go straight to your search bar to look up a product/service and not even attempt to navigate your menu. Does your on-site search function provide relevant results?
  • Product classification: have you categorized products in an intuitive way? This is closely related to your menu choice. For instance, look at how Plantopia – a health and wellness store – have organized their menu (see image below). The store clearly understands that their audience typically shops by health (rest, relaxation, detox, etc.), and so have made that a priority in their menu!
Plantopia menu navigation

Quick Load Speed

A quick, responsive site is essential to a good user experience, a fact that is easily verified by looking at user engagement variables such as bounce rate and conversion rate.

Conversion rate refers to the % of users that “convert” (e.g. purchase a product on an eCommerce site or subscribe to the newsletter on a blog site). Meanwhile, bounce rate describes the % of users that leave your site without taking a single action (e.g. clicking a CTA button or link).

There is a causal connection between bounce rate, conversion rate, and load time. In other words, the quicker your site is, the lower the bounce rate and the higher the conversion rate is likely to be.

Luckily for you, there are various ways to improve your page speed, such as:

  • Compressing and optimizing image and video files
  • Hosting your site with a local server
  • Reducing the number of HTTP requests

Helpful Content

Your site’s content must be written for your users, not just search engine crawlers. That being said, the continued overlap between SEO and UX means that – in most cases – you no longer have to choose between the two. The practices that please users (e.g. descriptive headings, short paragraphs, short sentences), now also please search engine crawlers! With Google continually releasing UX-focused search engine algorithm updates (e.g. Helpful Content Update), this connection should only strengthen.

Despite there being plenty of overlap with SEO, UX writing still remains a practice in its own right. In order to follow best practices, you should:

  • Make it scannable: especially for long-form blogs, most people will scroll through your page looking for information relevant to them. Utilize bullet points, lists, and visual elements to break up your content into easily digestible chunks of information.
  • Keep it simple: don’t use technical jargon or long-winded phrasing. Use plain and conversational language that is easy to understand.
  • Maintain a consistent brand voice: be consistent with your tone of voice and style of writing across your whole website. This will help to create a cohesive user experience.

Check out our Guide to UX Writing to learn more!

Great Mobile Experience

Over 60% of all web traffic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is generated from mobile phones, a trend that stands true across most of the Middle East. That means, if the mobile version of your website is not up to scratch, you could be alienating over half of your traffic!

There are a number of mobile-specific UX considerations, for instance:

  • Focus on gestures and touch: mobile devices rely heavily on gesture-based interactions, such as swiping, pinching, tapping, and long pressing. When designing your site, make sure these gestures are intuitive and easy to learn. Equally, all tap targets must be appropriately sized so that they can pass the “thumb test” i.e. they must be large and easy enough to click on.
  • Optimize navigation menus: simplify navigation menus by eliminating unnecessary elements like drop-downs and multiple levels of menus. Place primary navigation elements at the top or bottom of the screen and use icons to represent menu items when possible.
  • Utilize white space: mobile screens are limited in size, so it’s important to make sure that there is plenty of white space between elements for clarity and usability. This will prevent users from feeling overwhelmed by too much information on one page.

If you’re not regularly scrutinizing your website’s mobile experience, it’s time to start doing so!

Start Catering for Your Users

It’s easy to design something that looks good, but it’s much harder to design something that perfectly caters for the needs, wants, and expectations of your audience. This is the gap that UX research and design aim to fill.

A UX audit is a great place to start. It will highlight your website’s usability, functionality, and/or accessibility problems, and then – most importantly – provide actionable solutions. Book a FREE 30-minute discovery call with one of our experts and find out how your business can start making data-driven and user-informed decisions.