What is User eXperience?
The name is, at a very basic level, self explanatory. It is about the experience the user has while using something. The user is you and that something could be this website, a remote control for your TV, a museum or any one of the hundreds of things you “use” each year.
Why does the User eXperience matter?
There probably aren’t many of us who enjoy having difficulty using something. When we go to an online store selling books, we want to find the books we want to buy quickly, confirm they are actually the correct books (hardback, paperback, ebook, 1st, 2nd or 3rd edition etc.), then purchase and pay for them quickly and easily. If we struggle to find the books in the first place or we find them but aren’t entirely certain they’re the versions we need, or we try to buy them and have difficulty entering our address or making payment … well, we may decide to use a different online book seller next time! Similarly, if all those steps are easy to complete and the books arrive quickly and in good condition, we’re more likely to use the same online book seller in future.
How do we know what sort of experience someone has?
That’s where we come in! The two primary ways to find out if your website, app or space is providing a good User eXperience or, more accurately, the two primary ways to find the problems with your website, app or space are:
Expert analysis. This is the method used by our Website Health Check and Website Assist services. It requires someone with a long history of working in fields such as Human Computer Interaction, Usability or UX research and having gained expert knowledge to allow them to evaluate and recognise what is likely to cause a problem and, importantly, assess the level of likely problem. After all, a problem which may quickly see a potential customer give up and go elsewhere is more important to fix than a problem that may cause a potential customer to pause briefly before completing the task they’re there for.
User testing. It may seem obvious, but this is the method used by our Rapid User Testing and Managed User Testing services. Rather than accept the opinion of an expert, we ask people who are representative of the product’s customer base to tell us what the problems are. Not by saying “use the website and tell us what the problems are” as most people are not experienced in recognising such things, but by setting carefully designed tasks, observing them as they carry out those tasks and then analysing the results of several people who performed the same task. Through this we can identify trends to both find the problems and assess which will cause the greatest amount of difficulty and therefore needs to be fixed more quickly than the rest.
What sort of problems might be found?
There are so many types of problems we find on a regular basis the best we can do is offer a few examples of the most common.
- A website for a shop or restaurant not displaying opening hours clearly or providing information on how to find them.
- Clicking a link that says “Contact us” and ending up on a page that says “About us” instead, requiring a hunt on that page to find the actual contact information or page.
- Finding a product in a website shopping system and on trying to add it to a shopping cart being informed you need to register or login first.
- Visiting a website for the first time and not being able to work out what they actually do.
- Information appearing unstructured across the website making it difficult to find the information needed.
None of these problems are difficult to fix in most cases, but they will inevitably result in lost customers until they are found and fixed. That’s why you need us.
How do I get started?
For a small, simple website you may need nothing more than a Website Health Check analysis and report. For a more complex website, you may start off with Website Health Check and use the resulting report to decide what tasks to get people to carry out in either Rapid User Testing (for a cost effective rapid turnaround) or Managed User Testing (for carefully designed testing to match your specific needs). After all, you can’t just ask someone to “use the website” as their behaviour will be drastically different to someone asked to “find and purchase a compact camera with at least a 5x optical zoom that also takes 4k video and is splash proof so you can use it on your upcoming beach holiday”. Website Health Check can provide good indication of what needs to be tested so you know you’re testing the right area of your website.
For additional reassurance we offer a Core Points Review where we have another look at the problems we reported in the Website Health Check or Rapid User Testing once you’ve told us they’ve been fixed. This allows us to confirm the problems no longer exist and to ensure the fix didn’t create fresh problems!
If you’re in the process of having a new website created, our Website Assist service can work with you and your developers to ensure that it suffers no major problems at the point you make it available to your customer base.
If none of these services seem to fit your needs, we offer the catch all Usability Consultancy which will see us work closely with you to create a tailored offering which precisely suits your needs.