User Experience or UX is a term tossed around in the web development world. In this post, I will explain what I feel that User Experience is and what it is not.
What User Experience Is Not
User Experience is not the design. You can have a great design and a lousy user experience. Conversely, you can have a very simple design and a great user experience. This is because the user experience is not the design. Now, the design is part of it, but the design is only one aspect of it. Unfortunately, I see way too many websites where it is very obvious that the developers where very concerned about how it looked (the design) but not much else because it is really pretty but it was really hard to find what I wanted.
What User Experience Is
If you want a good example of a great user experience look at the Disney Parks. There are many entertainment options that cost way less, so why to people still pay big bucks and flock from all over the world to go to Disney? Because they provide a great experience from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.
I define user experience as the ability of the user to interact with the product in an easy and enjoyable way. The following items are key to a good user experience:
- Relevant Content. If the content is relevant users will love the experience. If it is really out of date your site won’t do so well. I’ve seen business that have blogs where the latest post is from 2 years ago. That makes for a bad experience. Conversely, Amazon.com is a great user experience. Their products are easy to find, its easy to check out and you get the item really quickly (and you can see the order stats at any time).
- Clear Navigation. If it is really hard for users to find what they are looking for they leave and go elsewhere. It is that simple. My rule of thumb is this: if it takes more than 3 clicks from the homepage to find the page they are looking for, then it is not a good user experience. Move those items into a menu item accessible from the home page.
- Mobile Friendly. Way too many sites aren’t mobile at all. If you want to stand out make yours mobile. I have found that only about 20% of website I view are mobile. Also, on the mobile site don’t try to load everything you would on the desktop site. You wouldn’t try to fit all the furniture from a 5 bedroom house into a 2 bedroom condo, so don’t try to load everything from a desktop site on a mobile site.
- Security. People want to feel safe. If they go to your site and it is not secured correctly, they will leave (especially if they are buying). It is really easy to run a secure site using SSL Certificates and running over https. Read this post to learn more. Make sure your site is secure and it will help people feel safe and comfortable on you site.
So put yourself in the user’s shoes. If you went to your own website, would it be a good experience or would you leave? If you would leave, then go change it so people don’t want to leave. If you wouldn’t leave, keep doing what you are doing…your are the right track.