Building a Successful UX: Useful Tips for Entrepreneurs
According to Google Trends, interest in user experience (UX) has been steadily increasing for years. No wonder. A recent study from Forrester Research states that a well-thought user experience design can raise conversion rates up to 400%. The understanding that UX dramatically changes the business is a top rank motivator for companies to invest immediately. We are talking to Artem Kostenko, Art Director and UI/UX expert at Sigma Software, about common mistakes businesses make when it comes to UX.
Artem, the most widespread mistake seems to be that people frequently consider UI and UX to be the same things. Is that so? What are UI and UX after all?
You are quite right, people often confuse UX and UI or believe that they are interchangeable, although those are two very different notions. Simply put, UI is how things look, while UX is how things work.
These terms surely depend on each other. As often as not, a bad UI means that a UX would be far from perfect. Say, you have a design where all the buttons have different sizes and different colors. User experience in this case is obstructed, and users will be confused.
What are the missteps entrepreneurs should be aware of when turning regard on UX?
Everyone is looking for introducing a UX to their product, but very few understand what UX is really about. Moreover, businesses often expect third party UX experts to provide them with a “turnkey” UX design. In most cases, it is quite costly and requires a lot of time, since UX creation is always preceded by a serious research: discussing a million of questions on how your business model should work, on your vision and expectations, studying your target audience, thinking out all user stories, analyzing possible risks, and so on.
After all that the result may still be far from ideal. Because no expert knows your business better than you do. So, my advice for entrepreneurs, who are considering UX improvement as their next step – dive deep into the process, do not step aside. You can save your budget and time by making a lot of ground work by yourself. This involves in-depth understanding of own business and audience, why and how people are going to use your product or service, trying to walk in users` shoes to find out how you`d behave in their place. Don’t forget to think over possible alternative scenarios thoroughly, since there always will be people who will use your product, solution, tool for other purposes.
Finding out the suitable user experience strategy that would work for a specific business is by no means an easy task, but analysis is your strongest ally here. Often, companies look at competitors for ideas that in fact may not be good for their own target market. The way to an effective UX stems from taking a comprehensive look at your business strategy.
Only when you break it all down and can do no more by yourself, it is time to engage a UX expert having on hand all the crucial information – a problem you are trying to solve, a market segment, a clear business model, a user portrait, and audience specifics.
No less important, you should clearly realize what you want to receive; otherwise, you may get the most unexpected results at the end of the day.
Can you come up with the examples of good UI and bad UX and vice versa?
There are no metrics to determine this UX is good and that one is bad, and no patterns to apply. Too many various conditions, features, nuances may influence it. Say, when a refrigerator door opens right to left, is it better than when it opens left to right? There is no right answer here: it depends on the location of the fridge and furniture around, on the preferences of a user, and on the fact if a user is right or left hander. The only thing that matters is whether a user can perform the task efficiently. A good UX is the one that allows you to easily do what you need and achieve your goals.
Let`s look at it this way. If UI was a hammer, then UX would be the way how you use it. You can hammer on with a sharp end, with a handle or flatwise, hold it with both hands or with one of them. The hammer can even be crooked, but it's ok if a user needs it to be crooked. How you use the tool depends on what actions you need to do and how you need them to be done.
In addition, it is very important to remember that user experience is changing, and what was considered handy yesterday, becomes uncomfortable to use these days. Similarly, what we are used to now, may go out of date very soon. A good example are sensor screens smartphones. Back in the days, people wondered how they could use phones with no buttons, but less than a decade later, we cannot imagine ourselves returning to feature phones again.
A good user experience is not always the smartest and easiest way to do something, very often it also an acquired taste. If we are accustomed to use a fork, we consider it the most convenient for us, however, it might be not true. The task of a UX expert is not only see alternative ways if any, but realize that users might not be ready to switch to these alternatives from what they are used to.
At what stage of a product creation it is a good time to think about UX?
At the earliest possible.
There is a known curve of changes cost. If you do not take trouble to think over any and all user cases at the very beginning, sooner or later you will face the fact that you need to spend too much time and money to introduce changes and fix the problem.
The cost of change increases the further you carry the project. Robert Pressman in his book “Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach” provides self-evident calculations: “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” If you don’t plan properly, you will incur much higher costs than initially estimated. Or even worse: sometimes solutions are not ready for implementing changes, which leads to losing users and affecting the overall success of a product.
To sum up, creating a perfect UX is like following the Yellow brick road – a dangerous but engaging path that, when all the obstacles are behind, will lead you to a fairy Emerald City. Meaning that it will not only make your offer user friendly, but also will help you to understand your business better :-)
Artem Kostenko, Art Director and UI/UX expert at Sigma Software
Artem is a designer-ninja with over ten years of experience in graphic design and over 15 years in IT industry. His superpower is his ability to find a solution that satisfies the customer, is comfortable for a user, and meets design rules and usability requirements. He knows how to create a solution that suits all and teaches others how to do this. As a gifted leader and mentor, Artem has trained and helped grow many professionals. Most of them have reached high positions in Sigma Software and other companies.
Artem’s circle of professional interests is extremely wide. There is no single area in design, which Artem have not tried. His current fancy is UI/UX Design and WordPress Development. So now he perfects these areas in our company.