The UX factor
“OMG that font is just ugly and that is not our corporate-branded blue!”
This is the response you get from your client after the creative agency has just delivered the final website reveal.
Especially not after the web build came in at double the original estimate.
It’s OK – this isn’t just happening to you; this maddening scenario of marketing angst head butting creative exhaustion happens time and time again in offices everywhere.
The cause? The core factor here is the subtle interplay of non-UX experts who have no notion of the meaning of UX (that’s User Experience chaps), let alone the expertise associated with delivering a functional and smoking-hot UX design and experience.
The evolution of commercial art and technology is so sophisticated, so malleable to the desires of our corporate imaginations that it is no longer acceptable to operate on the this design will just have to do mentality.
At its heart a UX design needs to answer two questions – why? and how?.
Why are you recommending we go down this path and how are we going to execute this journey? If you can’t get answers to the why and how, you are definitely in the wrong hands.
To some organisations though, a UX team is a luxury or viewed as ‘creative fluff’ that over extends a tight budget.
Never fear, you can get the core of the UX expertise with some basic principles that can be applied to assist your online team.
Here are some tips that you can immediately plug and play into your business and get your creative juices salivating:
1. Create or assign a technology team that understands how to design architecture from the ground up and one that has experience in consumer-driven software development
2. Research your customer profile in detail. Involve the customer service department, brand managers and of course, marketing. Understand what frustrates your customers, what they love about your products or services and give them the online experience they expect
3. Design: there are three parts to design. The content and functionality design, interaction design and the look and feel design. Technology and digital companies usually design the content and functionality design before handing this to the creative team. Don’t assume your creative team can design the content and functionality layout if they are not integrated with your technology/development team. This can cost you a lot of money!
4. Agility is fundamental. This allows you to introduce new features to your project quickly. New features are usually introduced once you get enough feedback data from your online users. Take note of these feedback forms, online posts and what is being set about your website in the wider web. Follow customer clues and grievances, and adapt accordingly.
5. Content is king! Copy should be concise and professional. The language should match that of your customer. More importantly, try and use keywords and phrases that your customer is most likely to search on Google. My advice is get a professional copywriter who understands your customer and your business.
6. Analytics: are you analysing your web analytics to understand your customer behaviour right now? Can you see a pattern that perhaps can turn into an opportunity? If you can’t, find someone who can help you identify the gaps and opportunities.
7. Social networking applications: which model is right for you? Perhaps a full blown Facebook app is not for you and really all your customer wants is to rate your product and give you feedback – how hard is that? Understand your customer profile and persona and marry up your social networking strategy to meet the needs of your customer.
8. ROI: if you want a serious presence, you need a serious budget! How do you convince the executive team to handover thousands of dollars? Easy! Present a business case with the team behind the project and their expertise, your new way of thinking, the why and how, benefits, risks, etc. Let’s assume your CFO has no idea of the meaning of UX or social networking business models – so let it roll, extol their virtues and educate up!
The world of UX is about fulfilling a lot of disparate needs into one tight space – it is easy if you have all the factors in place and listen, learn and adapt to the information coming at you and re-invest that creative brains trust in the project.