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Why user experience design shouldn’t be an optional extra

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 05 Nov, 2012
Essential Essential topic

An introduction to the value of investing in User Experience Design

UX business

It seems there’s a myth accepted by some in online marketing that UX isn’t needed; simply put, “let’s just make it look good” is the attitude, but I believe this a dangerous stance to take.

To explain why, let’s start by looking at what User Experience Design (UX) is and what it does.

In layman's terms I'd say:

"UX is designing something to give the user the best experience and to tasks to be completed easily and efficiently as possible".

Usability is at the heart of UX, we want the user to be able to complete their tasks as easily as possible, to be satisfied with the experience. Take this common real world example:

door handle

This door gets me every morning! There’s actually a push plate AND a door handle.

I arrive at the office and pull that handle (every time), only to realise that’s it’s actually a door you push.

This is basic usability.

I’ve seen it many times before where double doors have handles on and one is locked:

  1. You try pulling the left door with no joy
  2. You try pulling the right door with no joy, believing both are locked you look puzzled
  3. Then you notice the “push” sign on the doors. You push the one on the right, (which is the one that really is locked) with no joy
  4. Then push the one on the left and hey presto, you’re out!.

Think about it, if this was someone trying to enter your shop, they might think your doors are locked and therefore closed, that’s lost custom right there. People have to do this on the web day in day out, except this time it’s your business’ online reputation that gets tarnished, not your front door.

Good UX is a clear win which will make your product feel better to use and can potentially make you more money in the long run. Users struggling with a website is never good.

This is what marketing should be pushing and you may have the best campaign in the world, but if your campaign makes no sense what’s the point?

The core principle of UX actually falls in line with Marketing. While marketing's principles might fall along the lines of “understand your customers”, ours as UX designers is “understand your users”.

Through various research techniques that can translate across both industries we can create products and services which work for our users by providing:

  • a product that allows users to interact with them efficiently and doesn’t make them tear their hair out every five minutes
  • a better user experience, limiting the possibility of poor reviews, negative social media and poor recommendation via word of mouth.

We’ve all heard “prevention is cheaper than the cure” so can you afford not to take notice of good UX practices and try to repair the damage later?

Further introductory reading on User Experience Design

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By Expert commentator

This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

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