In digital marketing, one of the most important topics that comes up is user experience. We use the term to define the validity of various solutions to problems, everything from the color of buttons on the front end to the speed at which calls to the API return. However, we can never forget that user experience, in general, is nothing without context. Context is what gives meaning to the ‘good’ in good user experience.
This becomes obvious when we talk about user experience in the real world. When you ask a fast food joint what good UX is, they would say that it is a delicious, filling meal provided as quickly as possible for as little cost as possible so the ‘user’ gets in and out as quickly as possible. Now imagine you sit down at five-star restaurant and have that experience. Not as appealing, is it? Good user experience, might include a delightful atmosphere, an elegant presentation of the meal, even the clientele they attract could play a part in good UX in this case.
Is Perfect UX Possible?
This also brings up the fact that ‘perfect’ UX in any given context is unattainable. A lot of choices when developing a better UX are tradeoffs. For example you might trade off page load speed for the amount of information on that page. Whenever a choice is made to trade one possibility for another, a priority is defined.
Part of the context that defines good and bad UX are the priorities the user has. If their top priority is speed, the choices of any tradeoffs made, need to align with that priority. The alignment of priorities of the site and priorities of the user is what defines a good user experience.
There are some things that can be changed to improve UX that are not tradeoffs. These are like friction in an engine. The less friction you have, the more efficient (read better) your UX will be. These can be anything from an unhelpful navigation to having to dig through twenty ’Weekly Website Roundup’ posts to find anything with substance in a blog.
These little UX bugs causing friction are typically easy to fix, but must align with your users priorities in order to make any real impact. Should there be high-priority problems with a site’s UX, fixing that problem could even improve the site’s conversion rate. Many websites that focus largely on improving web conversions spend much of their time A/B testing small UX changes like these to see which result in a better conversion rating. That conversion rating could be seen as UX rating without much hesitation.
Start With Your Personas
A great practice for any marketer, content developer, or social media guru is to start with your personas (you do have personas written out, right? If not, you should read this) and write out their priorities when interacting with your website/social account/blog/etc. Are they just looking for quick info? Are they there for entertainment? Do they want you to make them think? Write these out and keep a list for each persona.
Next go through your content or site with the mindset of each persona, taking into account their priorities. Also make sure to know what device they might be using, this could dramatically change their priorities. What would frustrate them? What would they be glad is there? What would they wish was there that isn’t currently?
The biggest thing you’re looking for are practical improvements you can make. With content, many times this is simply course-correction. Change up what or how you are writing. With a website this might be changes to navigation, placement of elements on the page, any variety of changes aesthetic or functional.
For those of us that like making extra work for ourselves (or just like lots and lots of data), the next step is to measure the effect of those changes. The simplest way to do that is just measure the change in visits to various pages or content. This method isn’t preferred, but when you’re changing the types of content you are posting or something similar to that, it may be your only option. The better solution, if it is possible with the given changes, is to A/B test these changes. This provides a fairly reliable view of the effect the changes are having on the site’s UX, and you will quickly know whether or not you are headed in the right direction.