What user experience really means

27 October 2020 Tenaka

The case for customer-first design

User Experience (UX) noun: “The overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.”

If you’ve had anything at all to do with your company’s website or social media presence in the last few years, you will have heard the term “user experience”, aka UX, bandied about. It’s the latest buzzword for how websites should be designed… or is it? Is UX just some passing craze like SEO? (PS, if you think SEO is over, we need to talk, seriously, like, now.)

Or is UX a mutually beneficial way of thinking that actually considers the humans we’re interacting with? We’d argue it’s the latter, and this is why:

People make decisions emotionally

This isn’t hyperbole, it’s a scientifically verifiable fact. Almost 100% of people’s emotions are made emotionally. You might argue and say, but I always consider all the facts. That may very well be true, but that final decision always includes a significant emotional component. If you’ve ever flipped a coin* to choose between two equally good options, you’ll realise we speak the truth.

That means, if your potential customer visits your website and enjoys a hassle-free, easy to navigate experience, they are more likely to buy whatever you’re selling. On the other hand, if they are annoyed with constant pop-ups, or find it difficult to find what they need, they’re less likely to choose you. It’s really just that simple.

The lesson: UX thinking is there to help you make customers happy, so that they will choose you.

People like to be heard

We’ve all felt it, that rankle of annoyance when some person or company doesn’t listen to what we’re telling them. Who do they think they are? They didn’t even ask, they just changed the whole app/terms of the contract/name of the product/flavour of the ice cream. Let’s all spare a moment for the loudly lamented Chocolate Log… Or remember what happened when someone decided South Africans don’t want Salt and Vinegar Lays anymore…

Here’s a favourite example: Netflix auto preview. You know, when the preview starts blaring out at top volume while you’re still trying to find your proper glasses to read what the show is about? Customers complained about this feature for years before Netflix finally made it possible to disable it earlier in 2020. Now, it didn’t cripple their business, but it did lose them PR points when it took so long to do something about it.

The lesson: UX thinking is about listening to your customers and understanding what they actually want and need

People don’t like to be told what to do

There’s nothing quite as annoying as being made to jump through hoops on a website. Want to find out more about the company? Here, click these seven links in this order, it’s the only way. Want a price list? Please email this address (whoops,sorry, no that link isn’t working, you’ll need to copy and paste). This type of design inevitably results when you’re trying to get the customer to do what you want, rather than what they want.

When you spend time focusing on why customers might visit your website, your design starts to shift to UX. My business is a retail store, of course customers will want prices on goods. I am a wedding planner, of course customers will want to see a gallery of what I’ve done. My company designs online lottery games, of course customers will want to be able to test games free.

The lesson: UX is a “what would you like to do?” mentality, rather than “here’s what I want you to do” thinking.

*Excuse us, but flipping a coin is 100% emotional decision-making. For personal choices, people decide based on how the coin-flip makes them feel, not the actual result. Now that’s a thing you know.

At Tenaka, we like to look at things from more than one angle. If you need help making your website design more customer-focused, get in touch.

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