I started my IT career in the early days of the World Wide Web. I built stuff that allowed users to do things they couldn’t do before. The focus was on the function and not so much on the form. Did it work? Yes? Great. Nobody really cared if it looked like something only a developer could love. And then people did start caring. With the increase in mobile and smart phone use and the “Rise of the App”, people started caring even more. They cared a lot, in fact.
And so user experience (UX) rose to prominence.
I know enough about UX to be dangerous (a nice card sort exercise, anyone?). For example, I know that UX is not the same thing as UI and it’s not the same thing as usability (thanks for the coaching, Norm Sun). There are some good resources out there about what UX is, including definitions of UX from various sources.
Beyond what UX is and isn’t, I also know that UX really matters. Anything that has an ISO spec has to be important, right? Just kidding. A lot of people have provided commentary on the importance of UX, like here, here, and here. Here’s my take on why UX matters, boiled down to three big reasons.
1. UX matters to your users.
There are all kinds of studies that show users are insanely quick about making the decision to keep using your product or service or to bounce (LMGTFY). The experience a user has in that crucial first few seconds can determine whether they stay or go. One definition of UX is “the experience, emotion, intuition and connection a user feels when using a site or product.” Do you want your users to feel delight and a sense of accomplishment? Or do you want them to feel frustration, confusion, anxiety, and anger? Spending the time designing a “delightful” UX can be the difference between users who love using your product or service and those who bounce, never to return – or worse, tell others how bad it is so those people never even try it. A bad UX can mean your product or service is DOA.
2. UX matters to your business.
This one is pretty simple, I think. If it matters to your customers, it should matter to your business. It’s pretty hard to accomplish your business goals like increasing revenue, market share, or customer satisfaction if users don’t want to use the product or service you had pinned your hopes on. Delight your users and they’ll delight you by helping your business achieve its goals.
3. UX matters to your employees.
Employees want to be on a winning team and to be proud of the company they work for. They also want to be proud of the work they do and create products and services that are used and enjoyed. Imagine yourself as a developer, analyst, or product manager who has just poured your heart and soul into a product or service without the time, money, or permission to focus on UX. When it’s released, you’re deluged with customers providing negative feedback on their experiences using it. Imagine the ratings looked like this:
How would you feel about your work? How would you feel about your company that didn’t put in the UX investment to make all of your hard work shine? Probably not that great. Make sure UX is part of the plan for your product or service so your employees who worked on it can take pride in their efforts and your other employees can feel like they’re on a winning team.
Good UX is just as important to the success of a product or service as good analysis, good engineering, and good management. Act accordingly.