Whether you’re designing a physical or a digital product or an end-to-end customer journey, a positive user experience is crucial to business success. UX design ensures that you’re solving the right problem and design an optimal solution, keeping users’ behaviors and desires in mind. The aim of UX design is to provide a seamless, efficient, delightful user experience. A product that is user centric has a higher engagement rate because users are more likely to enjoy using it and to be more satisfied with their experience.
UX design considers the entire product lifecycle. UX design’s concerns and activities include discovery, research, user-interface design, usability, data analysis, and more. The benefits of UX design can also go beyond the product itself to impact the business as a whole. According to Nielsen Norman Group:
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
By emphasizing UX design details throughout the entire end-to-end customer journey, you can provide a cohesive, streamlined user experience that helps your company build strong relationships with your customers.
Increasing Customer Satisfaction Through UX Design
Measuring customer satisfaction requires that you gain a good understanding of a customer’s attitudes toward a business’s products, services, and overall customer experience. Customer satisfaction is a key metric to track to ensure high customer retention, referral rates, and lifetime value. When evaluating customer satisfaction, there is often a correlation between customer feedback and behavioral metrics such as users’ initial interaction with features and rate of return. Users that offer positive feedback and have high net-promoter scores are more likely to interact with your product on a regular basis.
UX design aims to support increased customer satisfaction by creating fulfilling, easy, joyful user experiences that enable users to reach their goals. Next, let’s consider some key priorities of the UX design process.
Defining the Problem
One of the most important steps of the UX design process is to make sure that you’re solving the right problem. UX designers, along with other stakeholders, set out to define the problem through various discovery-research methods, ensuring that what gets built is actually what customers want and need.
Conducting User Research
Conducting user research enables UX designers to understand user behaviors by asking questions through user interviews, observing users conducting their tasks in their typical environments, leading participatory design sessions, and using other user-research methods. User research enables designers to reveal users’ painpoints, dive deeper into customer feedback, and gain real, valuable customer insights. Designing solutions by leveraging insights that you’ve gained through user research helps you to ensure customers’ satisfaction with the end result.
Did you know that reducing page-load times by even a second can improve your users’ experience and increase conversion rates? Or that, for each second of load time, 10% of users leave? For digital products, performance is a critical factor in customer satisfaction and overall product success. Slow response times frustrate users and steal their precious time. Most of the digital products that consumers interact with daily are fast, so users’ expectation is that your product should be fast as well.
0.1 seconds—Feels like an instantaneous response to users and supports the feeling of direct manipulation. This is also the ideal response time for the Web.
1 second—Lets users sustain an uninterrupted flow of thought, but they do notice the delay. However, no special feedback is necessary.
10 seconds—The limit of the users’ attention. For delays that are longer than ten seconds, users want to perform other tasks while waiting for the system to finish.
Although developing speedy products that don’t interrupt the users’ workflows is invariably the goal, it is not always possible to improve the products’ performance sufficiently to meet the user’s standards. In such scenarios, there are ways to provide a better user experience even when performance is slow.
For a one to ten second delay, incorporate a loading animation or some other form of continuous feedback to let the user know that the system is working. For longer delays, consider letting the user navigate away from the page while the system works in the background. However, if that is not possible or practical, make sure you provide effective feedback. A ten-second delay with no feedback often makes visitors leave a Web site.
By designing for performance considerations and giving users adequate feedback, you can mitigate users’ frustrations, even when performance is poor.
Designing for Accessibility, Usability, and Inclusion
Accessibility, usability, and inclusion are closely related initiatives around creating digital products that work for everyone. Accessibility focuses on creating an equal user experience for people who have disabilities. For example, one way to design for accessibility is to make sure that all the colors your product uses pass WCAG color-contrast requirements and, thus, supports both users with color-deficient vision and those who need a higher level of contrast to distinguish visual elements.
Usability involves designing products that are efficient, effective, and satisfying for all users to use. Often, designers pay insufficient attention to the needs of people who have disabilities. One example of designing for usability might be making a system easy for users to learn how to use. If a product has an expansive navigation system, for example, designing for usability might mean providing the option for users to take a tour of the information architecture for a site or product that shows them where certain things are.
Inclusion prioritizes diversity and belonging and seeks to involve many different types of people to the greatest extent possible. Three principles of inclusive design are as follows:
Solve for one, extend to many.
Learn from diversity.
To design for accessibility, usability, and inclusion, you must ensure that you invite many diverse people to give you input. When you base your design decisions on diverse feedback, you can discover many different use cases and perspectives and create user outcomes that increase customer satisfaction.
Aiming for Consistency
One of Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics, or general principles of interaction design, is: “Maintain consistency and adhere to standards.” Whether you’re designing a digital or a physical product, it’s important to design consistent patterns for text, workflows, visual-design elements, and interactions. Maintaining consistency is key both internally, for patterns within your product, and externally, following established conventions for an industry, a platform, or the Web, and integrating them into your product.
When UX design is a foundational aspect of your product and brand, a consistent look, feel, and interaction patterns arise, enabling the system to consistently look and function as users expect. Also, consistency makes it easier for customers to learn how to use new features, which increases product-adoption rates. Designing for consistency helps ensure that a design meets users’ expectations and reduces their learning curves, all while building customer trust and developing a reliable brand image.
Infusing User Delight
When discussing UX design, we often talk about removing friction and making products and experiences functional and usable, but what about making them delightful?
Nielsen Norman Group describes user delight as, “Any positive emotional affect that a user may have when interacting with a device or interface.” Delight can fall into two categories: surface delight such as interesting animations, fun microcopy, or beautiful imagery, and deep delight, which arises from taking a more holistic approach to design and can be achieved only once all user needs are met, including the system’s being functional, reliable, usable, and pleasurable.
So why surprise and delight users? Delightful moments can help create a fun, unique, distinctive experience for users. They can be what makes your product or service stand out, be memorable, and ultimately, retain customers.
One example of delighting users is TikTok’s hashtag workflow. When users start adding hashtags to a video, TikTok displays a list of the hashtags they’ve used recently. The user can simply tap a hashtag in the list to add it, which provides a quick, pleasurable user experience. Currently, the hashtag workflow of their competitor Instagram requires users to begin typing before showing any recently used hashtags, creating a longer, less enjoyable workflow. Also, with Instagram’s workflow, users cannot see a full list of all the recently used hashtags.
TikTok’s hashtag workflow is an example of deep delight, by delivering a state of flow to users, who have all the tools they need to be productive without their getting distracted from the task at hand. TikTok’s decision to make the hashtag workflow easier and more personalized both delights users and helps the platform stand out from their competition.
A positive user experience directly impacts what customers think and how they feel about a product. It can, in turn, build customer trust, prompt positive feedback, increase product adoption, and help maintain customer loyalty and long-term retention.
Trust promotes flexibility. When customers have a strong, trust-based relationship with your product and brand, they’re more likely to be flexible and understanding when something goes awry.
Significant value accrues from the user experience. A positive user experience helps demonstrate value to customers. When a product helps make a user’s life easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable, the user sees the product as more valuable.
Loyalty and retention result from a great user experience. The user experience impacts how customers feel about a product. If a product doesn’t enable users to meet their goals or they don’t enjoy using it, they’ll likely look at competitors who can meet their needs. A product with a great user experience can motivate users to find new ways of using it and makes it more likely that they’ll be loyal to your brand and stick with your product or service over the long term.
Turn customers into fans. UX design not only helps foster customer satisfaction but can also turn customers into fans. Satisfied customers are more likely to provide positive feedback through reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations, which positively impacts your business’s brand perception and bottom line.
Tara is a design leader with over a decade of experience in the field. She aims to place an emphasis on user-centered design decisions that meet the needs and desires of users, creating experiences that are functional, intuitive, and enjoyable. She has a strong interest in emerging technology, particularly at the intersection of UX design and cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). While pursuing her masters in Human-Centered Computing at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Tara explored these technologies and gained valuable insights into how to design for these new experiences, keeping design best practices in mind. Read More