Alexandre Serrurier, Product Owner at Smart AdServer, offers his insights into how to create a user experience that attracts and engages users.
Is your website’s user experience painless? Let’s face it: Any website that leaves a user confused or frustrated is bad for business. First impressions are crucial, and improving yours is not so hard as you may think When we redesigned our interface — which helps publishers create and monitor advertising campaigns — client surveys revealed that even subtle tweaks could smooth their visits. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Think big, but start small
A redesign doesn’t require the release of a perfect, or even a fancy, interface. We are neither Facebook nor Pinterest. Our users need to visit our interface daily because it is essential for their business. Most of all, they need an interface that works. A beautiful but unwieldy UI would miss the mark. Ask yourself: Should we do a big redesign, or make incremental changes? The former may lead to a very long development cycle that frustrates everyone. By releasing frequent, small iterations, though, you can create a feedback loop wherein customer feedback can lead to continuous improvement.
2. Don’t be too technical — or adopt the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
You may have an impressive tech background, but many of your users probably won’t. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and avoid layers of complexity. Comedians know that if a joke is so complex that it has to be explained, it’s not funny. Drop those shiny but extraneous features in favor of easily understandable elements that welcome your website guests and gently guide them along. Something as simple (and responsive) as a progress bar can be very reassuring.
When I play soccer, my teammates who play simply earn more praise than those who employ fancy tricks, because those who play simply are more effective. In the same way, when we added a tool that enabled easy cutting and pasting, we received a number of thank-you emails that same day — far more than we’ve received for adding more advanced features.
3. Be consistent
If you don’t have a dedicated user experience team or coordinator, every team in your organization may be crafting its own version of your interface. Visuals as mundane as buttons, labels and fonts can differ from team to team. If they don’t harmonize in your final interface, you risk confusing the user.
It helps to begin by setting up guidelines or internal best practices, and to build a UI toolkit.
4. Create the feedback loop, interact with your users and test
Seek qualitative data. Briefly surveying your customers will give you valuable first-hand data about what works in your interface and what doesn’t. You’ll probably find they’re happy to participate. (We did.) Don’t hesitate to bring users into the design process by giving them early access to features. You may also bring colleagues and relatives in for a different kind of feedback.
At the same time, track quantitative data. Many tools can gather data about actual usage (Google analytics, intercom). Such tools measure pageviews, interactions and more to give you an idea of how people actually use your site or app.
Test, test, test. As mentioned, the feedback loop is essential to figure out the right path. You can gather quantitative data, but you can also use some tools and techniques like A/B Testing to know if your incremental changes provide the expected value. That implies however that you have set up a proper measurement plan. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
5. Avoid too many discontinuities
Change is good – to a point. Even customers that appreciate the new user interface can find old habits easier. Honor that. Modest tweaks may sit better with your users than dramatic overhauls. Emphasize clarity and simplicity.
If you do change things, document the changes so they’re clear. You may also want to offer onboarding tools that highlight and explain new features.
6. Be vigilant about updating
Make sure your user interface continues to fit current products and services, not just the initial offerings dating back to your launch. The tech environment is constantly evolving, and your clients’ businesses are transforming faster and faster. Your website must be responsive.
Site visitors don’t want to waste time guessing. They want a clear and simple interface that swiftly extracts the most value from your product and lets them get back to work. Fast.