The realm of User Experience (UX) design covers a spars but dense arena. It’s arguably the most important aspect of any website design, but we often see a ‘we’ll do that later’ approach from clients trying to build their SaaS or business system.
Time and money come into play obviously. Most projects have deadlines and budget limitations and when push-comes-to-shove, a relentless drive for ‘more features’ often wins over ‘less, but better features’. Why is this? Why do business owners push to create another bland buffet instead of serving up a curated degustation?
Although time and money are the winds that drive the feature list, there is another factor that pushes UX below the surface… the fact it is in a sense, unseen.
Great UX goes unnoticed, it knocks away all the digital hurdles from the user. For this reason, it’s hard to price this intangible result to a client when all they want to see is the product live and more shiny features.
It’s time to start thinking of UX design as a feature of its own.
What is UX design?
Great UX is when your customer can effortlessly complete their desired task from start to finish, without getting frustrated at the technology. UX design is the cornerstone of an exceptional website, app or web system.
Why is UX design so important?
This depends on what type of web project we are dealing with. A simple, content driven landing page is pretty forgiving. There is usually a form or some information to digest, and then the customer is on their way. But anything that requires a decision into three or more pathways needs a bit of thought from both the web designers and developer. Things get exponentially harder (for the user and web team) as the number of different pathways increases.
We are not dealing with a one street town, this is the Tokyo CBD and your customer is a tourist in the drivers seat. They don’t want more signs, roads and buildings, they just want to get from A to B easily.
It’s a hard thing to grasp and master as there are unlimited design pathways, and each one has limited tangible benchmarks that can be used get to ‘better UX’.
If we are dealing with startup SaaS projects, bad UX usually means a high customer churn rate. People are singing up, but they get frustrated quickly, and move onto the next solution. That’s your marketing efforts down the drain.
If it’s a business system with poor UX design, you’ll soon see that what was suppose to be a tool to create efficiencies actually starts creating new inefficiencies.
If your ecommerce website lacks thoughtful UX design, it’s a direct hit to the bottom line.
And of course, even your simple, branding/marketing website needs to take care of your customer and leave them feeling as though you go above-and-beyond to make things easy.
When should we look at investing in UX design?
Always, of course, but let’s weigh things up a little as we consider deadlines and budgets.
UX starts out as more art than science. It’s usually personal opinion or perhaps examples of a competitor site that leads the UX design direction. Although all web projects are different, here is a common approach our team takes:
- Initial scoping of requirements (document features and assess any known budgets and timeframes)
- Wireframing (considering UX)
- UI design (considering UX)
- Prototyping in Invision (heavy UX design stage)
- Development (Front and Backend, with constant UX consideration)
Up until this stage, we only have experience, personal preference and opinions to guide our decision making. This can get us pretty far and will give us a benchmark to work from, but UX design should be on ongoing process, and to get the most out of it, we need some user data and customer feedback.
So, once the product is live, there are a number of tools and processes we can use to keep improving how customers interact with it. We’ll explore this in a future article, the goal right now is to stress that UX needs more attention right from the start, and consistently after going live, otherwise we end up with a massive amount of UX debt.
As the web matures, successful SaaS businesses become more niche. Startups don’t need to do ‘everything’ anymore… as this approach will end up a UX disaster. Customers that do come on-board will be hard to keep. Startups need to figure out how to do a few key tasks really well, perfect those tasks, and then offer their customers ways to connect to other market leading platforms.
With this in mind, don’t assume that more features will bring more customers. If you’re building a time tracking app, don’t branch into project management. Instead, put more effort into improving current features, as well as making the onboarding and support for your app second to none.
UX design is a feature of its own and we should budget time and money for it, otherwise we might end up with something like this.