I was invited to be a guest speaker on Enterprise Nation‘s Lunch and Learn session on “How to improve your user experience”.
These are on every weekday and cover a variety of topics to help UK start ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, so this was very exciting.
You can listen to the recording, or read the show notes below.
A tonne of questions came in, which provide useful insights into the sort of information you need to progress, or even start with user experience and user research. I will try and tackle the questions we didn’t get to address over the coming weeks in this blog and on my mailing list.
There were technical gremlins, so the host’s audio is a bit fuzzy, but c’est la vie! Here’s the audio:
Lunch and Learn: How to improve your user experience
The session received some great feedback from the highly-engaged audience. “Very inspiring and super helpful!!” 😀
Below are the summary show notes.
What is UX?
Literally the experience of a user – your customer – when interacting with you, your digital products and services.
Why does UX matter?
It’s a customer’s perception and impression of you. It can affect your bottom line. Help your user access your products in a positive way. “Gosh, how simple!”, “Better than I expected!” would be nice things to hear, wouldn’t they?
What sort of checks should you make before you send new content or features live?
Developers will be using automated testing tools, which is great, but it’s good for you to have a human review to make sure your requirements have gone through as you envisaged and it’s all working perfectly.
I’d encourage you to make a checklist from your own processes and tweak it as you go, but to get your started here is a short QA checklist for a flawless UX experience.
- Content: Look at the holistic view in terms of where it sits and how people will find and engage with it. Does it make sense? Is it clear? Does it add value? Is it in the most appropriate format? Does it lead somewhere else?
- Legibility: Is the text size and colour contrast with the background easy to read? Color Safe is one tool that will check this for you. A rule of thumb is there should be a 70% contrast between text and background.
- Branding: Is it consistent across digital and non-digital touch points? (e.g. the brand colours and tone of voice).
- Links: Do they all work okay? It’s really easy for a link to be broken and also really annoying!
- Media: Check videos play okay and images resize correctly.
- Accessibility: check for minimum AA using a web tool. Wave and Jaws have been around a long time, you can google for some other options, it’s a good idea to use a couple in combination.
- Test on different devices: Are all the essentials such as “pay now” and menu buttons still visible and usable?
Create your own QA checklist for your own particular product and target device.
What tools assess if users are doing what you would hope they would do?
- Analytics (e.g. Google, Piwik, Oribi, Matomo) will show which pages people have visited.
- Heatmaps (Hotjar, Clarity, CrazyEgg) will show where they click and which parts of the screen they spend time on.
- User research will show you what they thought, their interests and motivations. Reach out and schedule 3-4 users. Alternatively, many companies offer a quick turnaround using their own panels of users. Some examples are Userzoom, TryMyUI, UserTesting. Just be sure if the type of participant profile is representative of your business as recruits tend to be more “Joe Public” and not necessarily a match for your niche.
Please look at each one carefully for your needs.
How can you assess UX?
Be proactive in knowing what level of user experience you are offering; don’t wait for the angry emails!
An audit, using usability heuristics, is one way. Engaging with your customers is another.
Decide what level and type of UX you’re aiming for:
- Consider expectations given how mature your product is and the company, the sector you’re in, and your competition.
- Consider your brand and your offering.
- How are you going to measure UX? What is an indicator of good or bad for your business? E.g. Number of positive or negative emails? Engagement? Time spent on the app? Sales? Something else?
Know where you are. Know what you want to achieve. Put all the things in place so you can gather that information.
How can you improve your UX?
To begin with, you need to understand where things are going wrong and going well, and why (see the point above), by observing your users using your product in individual sessions.
Get users to show you how they use the website (don’t ask or demo, observe and listen). Identify the critical parts of the website and make sure they work well first.
Once you have found out the weak spots, you can focus your attention on them (as opposed to trying to improve everything at once with little impact).
When adding new sections, features or capabilities keep a holistic view in mind so adding in sections or features is not clunky, but rather smooth and flowing. Avoid building the first solutions that come to mind. Design thinking and iterating can help here.
How important is responsive design?
It is always a good idea to make sure your digital products work well across different devices with different screen sizes.
It’s worth considering the Mobile First approach, which has been around for about a decade, and that prioritises the mobile experience.
The benefits include a clutter-free approach to screen content and content that will usually function satisfactorily on a large screen.
Designing on a large screen can mean that when a user tries to access it from a mobile device, items such as menu options, important buttons, links, and images may not display well or at all.
Always test across screen sizes, unless you have a solid reason not to. Exceptions may be if you are designing for a very specific use case such as medical apps used in hospitals on fixed screen size, or accounting apps for large volumes of data.
This is a nice explainer if you want to know more on Mobile First https://medium.com/@Vincentxia77/what-is-mobile-first-design-why-its-important-how-to-make-it-7d3cf2e29d00
Is analysing UX useful on a website that is not e-commerce-based?
Yes! Whatever the goal is of your website, it is possible to assess the UX.
Examples may be: can the users find the information they need? Can they understand the data they need to? Do they understand what you do? Is it clear how and when to contact you?
Where to start with user research?
- Decide if you want to evaluate what you have already.
- Do this If you’re not sure how well your product is performing. This will provide clarity on what needs improving.
- Observation of specific sections of your website, and usability tests are good here.
- Discover new things
- Do this if you don’t feel you know enough about your users or you want to get inspired as to what to do next.
- Interviews about what they are trying to do through your website, which other websites they may have used for similar purposes, where they are when they use your website and other contextual information is useful.
- Define 2-3 questions you want to ask thinking about what you will do with this information.
- Book some time with customers (usually one at a time). This can be a 30-minute call, so totally manageable. Aim for 3 – 5 users per focus.
- Make a regular habit; whether monthly or quarterly.
Jump right in and talk to users! Go for it, don’t hold back worrying what users will say. You will become more confident (and better at user research as you go). Take the constructive feedback with an open mind (without feeling you have to build everything they mention!).
My personal UX philosophy
Technology should work for people, people shouldn’t have to work hard to use technology!
I love to help businesses make sure their apps are frustration-free so their customers keep coming back.
Interested in my 5 week programme? This is ideal for businesses without UX support. You get to work on the UX of your product with my support. Sign up for my updates so you hear about it next time it runs.