24 August 2015

UX is Much More than Software

My Process for Understanding the FULL User Experience

Most companies are beginning to understand how important user experience is for their bottom line. They are actively trying solve or avoid these problems, but tend to just focus on their software. What they miss is creating a user centric solution is just a portion of the full experience that the user will have.

I am usually given a set of pages that a company wants me to pay extra attention to (homepage, category, and product pages). While these pages are critical to the customer’s user experience and business performance, there is a lot more to look at. It’s important to keep in mind that great user experiences take time to build and maintain, but can be demolished in just a couple of seconds. Today’s consumers demand an experience that works reliably and functions exactly how they expect it to. It is critical to look beyond the main pages of the website to see where mistakes can be made.

The Process

When working with e-commerce companies, I like to run through a full sales process to get an idea of what a regular customer will experience. The usual procedure for analysing the full user experience looks something like this:

  • I do a google search for a product and company name. This is the way most users will find your product, not through the homepage and category pages. Have I understood where I’ve ended up? Does the site give me a trustworthy experience? Can I easily get back to the previous category listing? What about the homepage?
  • From that product page I’ll go back to the homepage and then find my way to another product. Am I recommended other products that might be of interest to me? Is crucial information clearly displayed (size, color, price, delivery time)? This is where most UX-Checks usually end, but I’m just getting started. IPhone_6_unboxing

  • I contact customer support one more time to ask questions about my product. How quick was the response time? Under 24 hours? What was the tone like? Friendly or sour?

I then repeat this entire process for mobile and tablet. This way I know if the experience is universal across all possible platforms and may not have issues associated with responsive design issues.

More than Just Software

As you can see, the total user experience is so much more than just the three pages that most companies want me to focus on. Even if you don’t have the same chain of interactions as e-commerce, there is so much more to your user experience than the interface that your customer sees.

Is your customer support easily accessible and helpful? Do you give added value in your communication with me? Are your order confirmations and invoices easy to understand, printer-friendly (people still print!), PDF-friendly and OCR-ready?

What I say I do things differently, I mean it. I choose to work with a company to understand all aspects of their solution. After all, what good is having the perfect product page if it doesn’t work on mobile, if the customer support is not friendly, and there’s no clear information sent after purchase?

The user experience is much more than a few pages, so let’s stop treating it like it is.