“Advertising doesn’t create a product. It can only convey it.” The spirit of this famous quote from legendary adman Bill Bernbach, is worth keeping in mind when you’re considering if it’s worth investing in user experience.
The quote always comes to mind when I see brands driving traffic to a poorly designed website or app experience. Nobody wins in that situation: customers get a frustrating experience, and for the brand, there can be a serious impact on brand reputation and customer trust.
It’s hard to understand why a brand would invest so much money in getting eyeballs on their website only to not put the effort into making the customer buy something. Perhaps before COVID-19 the feeling was “well, as long as they get there, they’ll jump through whatever hoops required to make their purchase.” But in the digital-first (or in some industries digital-only) world the experience delivered through your website may be the primary, or only, touchpoint for potential customers, so it has to be right.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that the experience should be built around the user’s needs and wants, helping them achieve their goals and objectives.
There are a few important areas of consideration when it comes to creating human-centred user experiences.
Use analytics to improve website performance
One very powerful tool that digital technology offers us is the ability to see in real terms how people are interacting with our website and its content. Where are they coming from? What are they doing when they arrive? How many are bouncing away? How many users actually click on the button we want them to? And if they don’t, what are they doing?
Using the data from your analytics in combination with your user personas, needs and pains, and then cross-referencing this against your website structure and page designs, you can quickly gather together the insights needed to improve the UX on your website and boost conversion rates.
At Organic, our starting point is to conduct a series of audits that use quantitative data to understand what is happening and qualitative data to understand why it’s happening:
- SEO audit – From a UX perspective this will tell us what customers are searching for and what their intent is before they actually arrive on the site.
- Analytics audit – This allows us to see how customers move through the site, where they bounce, where they exit, and where they convert.
- UX/UI audit – These audits can let us work out what in the design and structure of the site and its pages may be causing issues, and identify areas where the site breaks proven best practice.
Armed with the information and insights from the audits, it’s possible to then build a list of updates and fixes that can be implemented. And when it comes to implementation A/B testing should be a standard practice.
A/B testing to validate your UX solutions
Once a proposed solution is developed, it should always be tested with real users to validate assumptions and gather more data to make further changes. You’re then able to compare the performance of the original page with the proposed alternative and see how effective changes are.
There is a selection of tools that are useful for running A/B tests:
- Google Analytics and Google Optimize – This is a free option that works great for businesses of any size except enterprise-level brands. Optimize is integrated within Google Analytics so you can quickly understand how your site can be improved, and easily run A/B, multi-variate, and redirect tests on content.
- Optimizely – This is a CRO platform that offers much more than A/B testing, such as personalised messaging to customers.
- Adobe Target – This is a powerful enterprise level personalisation platform, that provides A/B and multi-variate testing combined with advanced AI, progressive profiling and automation. It’s not simple to use but is massively powerful.
Human-centred thinking: it’s all about the user
Human-centred thinking is Organic’s take on human-centred design and design thinking. Too often, brands don’t spend the time to really understand their customers, what motivates them and drives them. Without this foundational understanding, it’s hard or near impossible to develop experiences that will help them.
Our goal is always to understand customer needs and our process for building up this understanding is to explore:
- Who they are
- What their goals are
- What they need to do to achieve their goals
- The resources they have available to them, which can be appropriate tech but also resources like time
- Their environments, geographically and socially
With this information, we can design and create user experiences that enable people to meet their needs quickly and easily.
There are several tools that can help aid this process of discovery and understanding.
- The Value Proposition Canvas – This framework is often used in product and service innovation and is a smaller section of the Business Model Canvas. It helps capture the customer segments and a value map of our products/services to ensure that what we’re offering is of value to the target audience.
- User personas – User personas drill down further into customer segments and should always be used to support and guide all decision making in the design process. One way of doing this is to build ‘straw man’ personas using existing data from the audits. Then an internal investigation process uncovers more information about customers, often from the marketing and sales teams, and this is layered onto the initial personas. We then validate the personas with real customers using interviews, surveys, and questionnaires. It’s this validation with real customers that makes the process truly human-centred.
- Customer journey map – Next we map the personas in line with their journey across the entire funnel. We look, in detail, at what they need to understand and what actions they need to take to progress to the next stage of their journey. We also consider their emotional state and feelings as they progress, which touchpoints they interact with, and any weaknesses that exist in the current stage of the journey, and how can we improve the journey. This leads then to the scope of the project in terms of actual execution.
The steps undertaken at this stage support the future success of the project by:
- Creating a persuasive narrative for the needed changes
- Generating buy-in from teams and stakeholders across the business
- Provide a shared organisational view so that the project proceeds from a place of understanding and agreement
- Communicates pain points in the process early so that bumps in the road can be avoided or at least navigated more easily
- Provides a cohesive launch point for the design process
The deep dive here into users and their needs and behaviour yields very real results. We’ve helped brands drive improvements in conversion and sales by improving user experience based on the insights that come out of this process.
By employing human-centred thinking with an approach like Lean UX you can rapidly create products that are informed by user understanding and you can very quickly begin testing them with real users, to gather more data and understanding and get to powerful solutions at speed.
If your digital experience isn’t as good as your advertising suggests then customers aren’t going to convert – they’ll just go elsewhere. The acceleration towards a digital-first world isn’t going to slow down, so it’s now more important than ever for brands to put their customers first, and invest in human-centred user experiences.
Original article originally posted on AdvertisingWeek360.