Let’s first look at some of the latest UX statistics, which lay the solid foundation for our understanding the value of UX practices to business optimization—particularly improving conversion rates and customer satisfaction:
88% of users do not shop on the same Web site again after one poor experience.
Companies that excelled in user experience saw a 400% increase in revenue over those that did not focus on User Experience.
Every $1 invested in User Experience brings $100 in return, resulting in a return on investment (ROI) of 9,900%.
41% of organizations have increased their sales through personalized user journeys.
These numbers speak for themselves. During 2023, statistics have shown that good Web-site design directly influences customer behaviors. Similarly, accounting experts tell us that 14% of small businesses fail because they ignore their customers’ needs.
With all these statistics in mind, why do businesses reject User Experience? In this article, I’ll explore the five primary reasons that cause businesses to shy away from adopting UX strategies, as well as how individuals can help spark change by exploring User Experience.
A lack of understanding of the differences between user-interface (UI) design and UX design
Acknowledgment of the brand experience gap
The differentiated expertise that great UX design requires
The careful orchestration that successful UX design requires
Ever-evolving UX design trends that are difficult to keep up with
1. A Lack of Understanding of the Differences Between UI Design and UX Design
Great visual design often positively aligns with great user experiences. The nuances between user-interface design and UX design can be hard for nondesigners to understand and appreciate.
It’s all too easy for most people to prioritize good visual design over good UX design because good visual design could have a more immediate appeal. Many assume that something beautiful to behold would also be naturally intuitive to use. Digital business analyst Ben Lim, from the Sydney office of the Web-design agency Chromatix, shares his findings:
“Many business owners rely too much on animations and effects to improve their Web site’s appeal rather than focus on improving the logic of their user journey.”
The impacts of this misunderstanding deepen when project leaders hire general graphic designers or software developers to complete the work. Although they are specialists in their own right, they usually lack knowledge of UX processes and cannot steer a project into a user-centered approach.
2. Acknowledgment of the Brand Experience Gap
The actual gap between what businesses promise and what consumers experience online or in stores is called the brand experience gap. Identifying this gap requires self-awareness and the ability to look at the real state of what they are delivering. Do business owners have the technical know-how to properly review a Web site? Is there someone in charge who can guide them?
If business owners aren’t aware of this difference, they won’t be able to bridge the gap. Businesses need to be open to feedback to stay competitive. Often, only this awareness and feedback enable them to be open to change and optimization.
A willingness to challenge their existing strategy and really understand how customers are interacting with their business is key to creating a consistent, satisfying brand experience for all customers. These are also core principles that underpin all UX processes.
Without true awareness of what is causing mediocre user experiences, many design decisions stem from guesswork. The real reason for low conversions could be a complex inquiry form that has poor conditional logic that hinders users’ ability to progress to its completion. Without the ability to identify this root problem, business owners may instead try increasing their Google Ads spend. Funneling their dollars into ramped up marketing efforts might give them a slight boost, but this is only a temporary fix rather than an ideally effective solution.
3. The Differentiated Expertise That Great UX Design Requires
Great UX design is undeniably complex. This work combines the expertise of software development, visual design, interaction design, and the psychology of human behavior. While many possess one or two of these skills, it’s rare to find one person who can wear all of these hats. For example, the skills of a graphic designer are very different from those of a UX designer who is well-versed in design psychology. Proper UX design processes may require multiple experts, who are able to work in synergy as a team.
Since User Experience is a relatively new field, there are few senior UX experts who are available to take on complex jobs. Medium-sized businesses and large corporations may be difficult terrain for a UX professional to navigate because of the following issues:
the use of legacy software from which it is hard to extract data
filing of client, account, and sales information through paperwork
complex logistics and sales systems
multiple departments that lack clear communication
Unfortunately, UX talent is hard to find, so hiring such an expert can be difficult for any organization that lacks the necessary in-house resources. As a result, businesses must have the resources to invest to enable their UX professionals to conduct research and implement a sturdy UX framework.
Larger corporations that have intricate sales processes and complex logistical systems would need to invest in training to enable their UX experts or team to implement a good UX design process.
In the case of mega corporations, UX design processes require more than just one Web designer or software developer. Companies must have the budget to invest in a larger team to really support thorough UX procedures and deliver better results.
When leadership is fixated on maintaining higher profit margins, UX processes might be the first they put on the back burner or axe. When this happens, the backend of the user interface on which developers have been working sometimes gets shoved into the front end, with no time for UX design or usability testing.
4. The Careful Orchestration That Successful UX Design Requires
The full UX design process consists of at least five clear stages that teams must weave throughout their project timelines, from start to finish. The difficulty of this detailed UX design process can be the most off-putting reason that businesses choose not to attempt its implementation.
Optimizing processes requires bringing together representatives from all internal teams to reimagine how they can improve things. The ability to pull this off successfully requires careful planning, communication, and cohesion between different functional teams within an organization. For a mid-sized corporation, this could involve the following teams:
5 Stages of a Standard UX Design Process
A standard UX design process typically includes the following stages:
User research—This stage requires collating qualitative and quantitative data regarding user demographics and understanding users’ unique goals. What are their primary painpoints? Where are they experiencing points of friction in the current brand experience?
Empathy—This stage extrapolates further observations from the first set of data, requiring empathy and logic to create user personas and scenarios to flesh out a customer-journey map. This is the crucial stage that enables businesses to analyze the gap between their perceived brand experience and the reality.
Create—This stage draws on the expertise of UX designers to create design concepts that answer the needs of users. Does their design cater to multiple audiences or demographics? Does it enable the users to quickly meet their needs?
Test—Never rest on your laurels. This is one of the founding principles that gives User Experience purpose. Through a variety of methods, the UX team must collect user feedback and data that lets them perceive the true nature of their customer interactions. Review and analysis of this data is key to highlighting issues or areas for enhancement in the user journey.
Develop—With an arsenal of real guidelines and data, the UX team can guide their software developers or product designers in making the necessary improvements. Sharing this knowledge with the full team can enable each department to understand and improve their delivery.
Implementing UX processes can be a challenge: clear planning and the assignment of roles are necessary. The implementation of UX process frameworks across a project lifecycle requires additional resources and time, especially with five or more stages that each consist of multiple steps and different expertise.
In some cases, UX solutions can require other areas of expertise such as video production, conversion copywriting, or branding. Thus, video-production managing director Amelia DE Rauch from Flipswitch Media states:
“The popularity of video has only been exponential, especially since studies have shown that conversion rates can increase by 138% when using video backgrounds on Web sites. We have many clients coming in who are looking to recreate their content to increase engagement.”
With some projects that span years from conception to launch, it is a difficult task for companies to hire an efficient project manager who is sufficiently skilled to manage these processes smoothly.
Implementation of User Experience also requires the understanding and cooperation of multiple teams. For example, if the Marketing team is fixated on their old strategies, this can create additional barriers. Managing Director of Lead Lists, Chris Cox, says:
“Too often do Marketing teams spend a great deal of budget on lead acquisition, without first having optimized their conversion rate or [spending] time testing the usability of their current Web site.”
The fact that UX design can be quickly shelved if business owners become completely preoccupied with maintaining high profit margins and meeting deadlines is another hurdle to overcome.
5. Ever-Evolving UX Design Trends That Are Difficult to Keep Up With
One of businesses’ biggest challenges is a lack of stability or consistency in UX design processes. Keeping up with ever-changing UX design trends—the result of frequent shifts in users’ behaviors and expectations—requires time and consistent effort.
In a recent interview with managing director Sharon McCulloch from First Aid Pro, she shared this viewpoint:
“As a business owner, I found that the need to keep evolving my Web site was quite expensive. The testing, amending, and continuous analysis could drain operational resources quickly and was the biggest hurdle to overcome.”
More UX Statistics and Observations
The latest conversion-rate optimization (CRO) and Web-site conversion studies show that calls to action that are surrounded by more negative space and less clutter increased conversion rates of 232%, highlighting a need for Web-site design optimization.
New technologies directly influence higher customer expectations. Web-growth digital experts highlight the need for UX specialists to stay up to date so they can design better user experiences. For example, in 2015, there were only 260 publicly known Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, which surged to 613 platforms in just five years.
“UX microcopy is incredibly important to consider when it comes down to user-centric design. This covers messages within calls to action, error pages, form-field descriptions, and informative pop-up bars. Thoughtful microcopy adds depth to your Web site, by starting a conversation with the user.”
The need to cater to these shifting trends by allocating sufficient UX resources and staff training can be costly. This seems like an ongoing challenge with no end in sight. Investing the necessary resources and maintaining these UX processes over the long term can be especially tough for small businesses. Not only do they need the resources and tools to stay informed, they also require the time and budget to put their learnings into practice.
Since User Experience is not a one-and-done solution, the nature of UX design can prompt business owners to consign it to the too-hard basket. As time progresses, the landscape of digital is one where it’s all too easy to fall behind. Virtually every day, there are new technologies and advancements that enable companies who invest in User Experience to run laps around their less fortunate competitors.
How to Overcome the Barriers to User Experience?
The gateway to the adoption of good UX practices and processes requires the ingredients of awareness, self-reflection, time, and money. Delivering solutions that are based on a robust UX framework requires a strong leader who possesses the understanding, budget, and patience to see it through.
Once a system is in place, the UX team must have adequate time and tools to execute their tasks and communicate their results to each other. Unfortunately, this places larger and well-funded companies in a privileged position. Making significant UX investments can put them ahead of their competitors. With these larger, well-funded UX teams also comes the added benefit of being able to train junior UX team members to understand User Experience at a deeper level. This is something smaller companies may find harder to achieve because of their limited resources and budgeting constraints.
The easier hurdle to overcome is understanding, showing, and highlighting the value of User Experience. Even the following case studies are enough to prove its effectiveness:
Highlight the potential sales businesses are losing—70% of users abandon their shopping carts due to poor experiences. (Kinsta)
Highlight the potential value businesses can gain—InVision stated that ESPN.com revenues jumped 35% after they listened to their community and incorporated their suggestions into the home-page redesign.
These statistics show the need for UX exploration. For small businesses with a limited budget, it can be easier to start with affordable, third-party tools rather than a full-time UX professional or team. Software as a Service (SaaS) tools can easily collect user feedback or allow teams to watch recordings of user experiences. This data removes the need for guesswork in creating marketing campaigns or optimizing a Web site’s design.
Although traditional UX design follows a rigid framework and requires larger teams, you can reshape your UX design process to suit your business needs and capabilities. UX design can be an agile process that you implement in reverse stages. Before considering a complete Web-site redesign or hiring a UX team, businesses can start small by following purpose-driven UX tips for capturing visitor attention.
Real data on user experiences allow businesses to unlock nuggets of gold that can drive better business decisions and deliver real impact. These nuggets of gold are at your fingertips.
Irwin is the founder of both the Web-design agency Chromatix and Neon Bright Copywriting, two agencies that focus on improving Web conversions through Web design and copywriting, respectively. Since 2009, he has analyzed more than 60,000 Web sites and amassed more than 80 industry awards and mentions for his agency work. Known as the Website Whisperer, Irwin also manages the Melbourne business coaching and consultancy firm Irwin Hau, an independent practice that specializes in digital transformation and business efficiency for digital solutions. Read More