Agencies get mired in buzzwords as much as the military does with acronyms. Sure, there are certain levels of understanding when it comes to any specific industry nomenclature, but getting scoffed at for asking for a “small” coffee rather than a “tall” one is hardly on par with being asked to pay thousands for something you don’t really understand the benefit of. This is one of those posts that makes people higher on the organizational chart than me nervous—opening too much of the kimono or revealing the secrets of our special sauce* . . . it’s always some configuration of mayonnaise and ketchup by the way.
So many terms are regularly thrown around and typically get truncated: UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface), SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Brevity has seemingly been employed so that job titles fit on business cards (people actually still use those things!), agency employees can save time when discussing these things (that’s like 16 ½ minutes saved every year) and so that you, as the client, can feel a confused sense of urgency. The bottom line is that UX is important, deserves your attention and budget and can be explained in a simple way that does create meaningful and direct value.
UX (User Experience)
I could say that user experience is the totality of the experience that a visitor had on your website. That is quite all encompassing and doesn’t deliver any real benefit, so let’s break it down a little further.
Think about it more in the terms of what you experience every day as a consumer. When you walk into a store, every component of your experience should be driving you towards ease of use and a pleasurable visit that will not only make you more willing to return, but to become a brand advocate. There are the obvious things: employees that welcome you and remain visible to help when you need it, items being easy to find, the cleanliness of the store and not having to wait long in line when you’re ready to make your purchase. Then there are those things that aren’t quite as conspicuous: the lighting, the temperature, the general ambience, types of materials used, merchandise layouts, etc. It all boils down to how the experience made you feel.
This same concept applies to your website—and much like the store that you patronized, there are the obvious and underlying aspects that make it a good or bad experience for your visitors. Those more overt factors being the aesthetic appeal of the site, how easy it is to navigate and being able to accomplish your goal painlessly. And the inconspicuous elements being content hierarchy and strategy, the subtleties of the user interface and even the choice of wording.
Much like a store, restaurant or any other consumer interaction, the experience matters and that should be fleshed out from the concept stage to completion of your site, and then beyond your site’s launch with regular testing and possible modification throughout its life cycle. And this is even more critical for a website than a brick and mortar business, where your geographic location can limit your choices and options. But online, the competition is seemingly endless and accessible, and your website does all of the talking for you. With all that said, you may still be left without a direct correlation as to how this impacts your bottom line. Homestead Technologies, Inc. created this handy infographic in June of 2013 with the following statistics that drive home the importance of a great user experience for your site:
- 68% of users leave a website because of poorly designed UX
- 44% of online shoppers will tell friends about a bad experience online
- 62% of customers base future purchases on past experiences
These stats add up to visitors simply exiting your site and then telling their peers about their bad experience. So the ill effect of bad UX compounds by word of mouth, and those same visitors are typically not even going to consider your site when shopping in the future. It’s like trying to fill a bathtub with a leak.
A more striking statistic found in a Vitamin T infographic about the impact of UX states that “Every $1 invested in UX returns up to $100.” Obviously a stat like this should be scaled in context of price points and volume, but it is powerful nonetheless. Undoubtedly, UX is absolutely necessary to the success of your online presence—it is imperative that your visitors have a great experience on your site so that they book or complete an RFP, so they return to your site, and so that they become brand advocates. Given our experience as an online agency, Vizergy’s approach is to ensure that UX is an integral part of the initial process and framework when designing a new site . . . not an additional line item. And if you have an existing site that you like, but feel that your conversion rate is low, it may be time to have an agency that employs experts analyze it from a UX perspective to ensure that you are starting with a strong foundation.
It’s all about those good feelings. The marriage of an easy-to-use, well-functioning site with an experience that makes them feel good, is every bit of effective as the combination of ketchup and mayonnaise.
*I don’t actually like special sauce, but I know in general, people love it.
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