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A Quick Introduction To User Experience (UX)

A Quick Introduction To User Experience (UX)

UX is more than interface design. It is a key ingredient to the overall customer experience, and marketers will be leaning on UX experts more than ever before.

One of the great ironies of user experience (UX) design is that the more successfully it’s done, the more the world tends to take it for granted.

By now, for example, most of us get to a web site and know where to look when we want to dig deeper. There’s usually a menu running across the desktop version, or an expandable one if we’re browsing on our smartphones.

If you’re downloading an app, we’ve become accustomed to an empty rectangle that slowly gets filled up with the word “loading” running above it.

Even though streaming services are still relatively new, nobody questions when videos autoplay. When it’s time to change our passwords online, you’re almost waiting for a service to suggest a strong one for you.

As they become more involved in overseeing the design and development of myriad digital experiences on behalf of their brand, marketers will be leaning on UX experts more than ever before. They should also deepen their own understanding of what UX is, and how it contributes value to much of what people see, think and feel along the customer journey.

UX and CX

UX is closely related to but is not entirely synonymous with customer experience (CX) design, even though marketers are often leading those efforts too.

CX is really about the totality of the journey a customer takes with a brand. This not only includes how they engage with a digital tool a brand offers but how they might become aware of it through advertising or social media.

The way customers make purchases is also a part of CX, even though UX design can determine what it looks like and how well it works.

Customer service my involve some UX elements if the brand offers a chatbot or self-service portals, but CX extends to how a brand runs its contact center and other support channels.

UX is really closer to the product-oriented elements of a brand. This not only includes products a company offers like apps, but the digital assets that allow a brand to express itself online, such as its web site.

Where UX Meets Marketing

Like many disciplines, UX designers rely heavily on objective research to develop their strategies. This means CMOs or other marketing leaders who are collecting customer feedback or commissioning surveys could help ensure UX teams are armed with quality data.

Marketing also involves a lot of storytelling about what a brand is trying to offer its target market. As more brands try to pursue innovation, UX is key to achieving adoption for services that might be unfamiliar to their target audience.

Ten years ago, for instance, the concept of ride-sharing services was foreign to the average consumer. Only by developing a best-in-class UX approach to their apps could ride-sharing services come to disrupt the transportation sector.

Today, more brands are reimagining experiences that have only traditionally been offered in person. This includes retailers who want to convey a sense of excitement to e-commerce shoppers, and financial services firms that want to help people get more confident in banking and buying insurance through digital channels.

The UX Design Process At A Glance

Of course, there is always going to be some variation in how brands apply UX based on the talent they have in-house or the third-parties with whom they work. Generally speaking, though, there are a few common stages involved:

  • User research: In addition to market research, UX often involves more in-depth, qualitative interviews with current or potential users. This helps uncover more specific expectations or areas where they might run into trouble when they use a digital tool.

  • Wireframing and prototyping: Rather than launch directly into the final design, UX designers may offer a bare-bones look at an interface or create a minimum viable version of a product. This helps ensure the expectations of stakeholders like marketers are being met, and sets the stage for:

  • Testing: Many marketers are already familiar with A/B testing different versions of a piece of advertising creative too see what resonates with their customers. The same thing happens in UX with early versions of digital assets like web sites, apps and more.

  • Iteration: Unlike physical goods, digital experiences may have to be changed or updated more often based on user feedback. A good UX strategy aims for continuous improvement without losing sight of the original objectives.

Looking Beyond The Interface With UX

Just as UX and CX are not the same thing, UX is more than simply interface design. Yes, the way a button looks and where it is placed within a mobile app is important. But UX is a way to pinpoint where your customers might get confused, how to streamline the journey they want to take and what will drive conversions, such as purchases.

Marketers are always looking at ways to build greater empathy for customers into the customer experience their brand delivers. When customers feel understand and their needs anticipated, it creates a kind of credibility that translates into long-term loyalty. UX can assist marketing teams in achieving these objectives.

As the history of digital technology has proven, meanwhile, you never know how experiences are going to evolve. UX experts are not simply helping to design better web sites and mobile apps. They are also the people who can help determine the right approach to using augmented reality or even leading brands into the metaverse of immersive digital worlds.

A great user experience is a key ingredient to a great overall customer experience. Future success in digital channels will depend upon getting UX design right.

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