November 7, 2016
These days user experience (UX) design is critical to the success of websites and mobile applications and, because of this, UX cannot be ignored by businesses that do not want to fall behind their competition.
If you are not familiar with UX, user experience design can be described as the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. (according to Wikipedia).
According to Peter Morville, a leader in the UX field, there are seven features that can be used to describe user experience. Let’s review these features and how they relate to user experience to give you a better idea of how UX can impact your mobile app or web site.
Is it useful?
If your mobile app or website isn’t useful to someone, it will obviously face an uphill battle. A mobile application with no useful purpose is not going to grab someone’s attention, especially when you consider that the app stores are currently filled with millions of mobile applications. Trying to capture someone’s attention in a marketplace filled with purposeful applications is going to be difficult, if not impossible, if your application is not useful.
Keep in mind that an application’s usefulness can be a subjective thing. Apps that have no practical value other than being entertaining or fun are regularly regarded as useful by users for the entertainment value they provide. Evaluate your mobile application or website honestly and ask yourself if it is useful. Systems can always be improved. Ask yourself how you can create a solution that will be more useful to the end users.
Is it usable?
The goal for any great user experience is to enable users to efficiently and effectively complete their objectives. A mobile app that requires users regularly check the help section for details on how to operate it will have high abandonment rates. Think of the usability of your mobile app or website as the extent to which it can be used to achieve users’ specific goals with efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.
While there have been mobile apps and websites that are less usable than they should be that have built audiences, your chances of success will be much higher if your app or website features great usability. Modern app users and website visitors are accustomed to quality user experiences and will no longer tolerate websites and apps that are slow to load or difficult to navigate. If your website or app is not usable, users will merely select one of the others out there that is easy to use.
Is it desirable?
Timex and Rolex both make watches and they both are useful and usable, with information that is easily findable, however, Rolex watches tend to be more desirable than Timex watches. This does not mean that Timex watches are undesirable; they have sold an enormous number of watches. But, if someone were given the choice between a new Rolex and a new Timex at no charge, most people would choose the Rolex.
You can improve desirability through design. Careful use of aesthetics and emotional design can be used to increase desire for a product. The more desirable your user interface looks, the more likely users will be to download your app or utilize your web site.
Is it easy to find what you are looking for?
Is the content and functionality within your mobile app or website easy to find? If a user cannot find the function or content they are looking for, they will not continue to use your website or mobile app. If they cannot find products you have for sale, they will not be able to buy them. Findability is crucial for a modern user interface. You might be losing customers right now due to poorly set up navigation or other issues related to findability and not even know it.
If your favorite news app suddenly operated without categories and news stories were just all thrown together at random, you would probably find the experience frustrating. Users are used to simple systems of organization and having an obvious system to make content or functions easy to find is essential.
Is it credible?
Modern users of digital products aren’t going to give you a second look if they don’t feel like they can trust you. With multiple options generally available, consumers will continue to look until they find a credible option. Credibility is based on the trust a user feels toward your product and brand. If your app or website does not look credible, users have no reason to believe that your content is credible either.
Modern digital consumers demand that mobile apps and websites not only do what they are supposed to, but they also expect that you will protect their information. If they think you have improper intentions with any private information that may be stored they will take their business elsewhere.
Is it valuable?
Products must deliver value. This is as true with digital products as with physical products. They must deliver value to whoever buys or uses it. Without value, it is doubtful that your product will be a success. For instance if your app does something similar to three other apps, each of which sells for $1.99 but yours is selling for $9.99, your app is unlikely to succeed unless it is significantly better than the competitors’ apps. Does it justify the higher price? Consumers understand value and will not pay for something that does not provide value.
Is it accessible?
Accessibility does not get discussed as often as it should. You should make sure that your app or website can be accessed by all users, this includes those who have hearing loss or impaired vision. You may not realize this, but in the United States around 19 percent of people have a disability (U.S. Census Bureau). It is not only the right thing to do, but it is smart business to make sure your mobile app and website are accessible. Keep in mind that when you design for accessibility, you will generally improve your user interface for everyone.
While they are essential, the success of your website or mobile app depends on more than just utility and usability. Those features are certainly critical, but consumers are looking for mobile apps and websites that allow them to find what they are looking for easily and are also desirable, credible, valuable and accessible. If your user experience also offers those features you will be more likely to succeed.
Samella Garcia works as an integration manager for UX Phoenix. She has eight years’ experience developing mobile applications and websites that focus on UX. Samella has a passion for user experience projects, coding, digital technology and hiking.