Thursday, October 25, 2007

User Experience 101: How to create a great online experience

Getting a handle on UX ...

"User Experience: What is it?
“The overall experience, in general or specifics, a user, customer, or audience member has with a product, service, or event. In the Usability field, this experience is usually defined in terms of ease-of-use. However, the experience encompasses more than merely function and flow, but the understanding compiled through all of the senses.” -

* Look and feel: Does it reassure you or repel you? Do the images, colors and typography encourage the user to bond with your site?
* Workflow/Information Architecture: How easily can you achieve the required task? Is the information arranged in a way that makes sense to the end user?
* Interactivity: Does the system react appropriately? Does your site make use of technology to deliver the right information at the right moment?
* How did you feel about your experience? Happy, frustrated, angry???

User Experience: Why it’s important?
Clothes cover you. Cars move you from place to place. Yet while we care that products have some basic features, all things being equal we choose the one that delivers, or at least appears, to deliver the user experience we desire.

Websites are no different. All else being equal, we’ll choose the Website that helps us achieve our desired experience. In more concrete terms, a good user experience will:

* Increase conversions: Successful redesigns can increase conversions by up to 100% or more.
* Increase adoption: Empirical research shows that perceived ease of use and usefulness are primary drivers of technology adoption.
* Enhance customer satisfaction: A good user experience will increase customer satisfaction and therefore drive repeat and referral business.
* Key differentiator: Apple elevated the user experience to a high art and look what it did for them.

How to create a Great Online User Experience
Creating a great online user experience requires the following ingredients:

* Talent: Visual design, interaction design, information architecture, writing and engineering are just few of the different skill sets required to create a great online experience.
* Focus: Trying to do everything for everyone is sure-fire recipe for failure. The tighter the focus, the easier it is to understand and deliver a great user experience – so be crystal clear about identifying your markets, users, and objectives.
* User Intimacy: Once you’ve identified your users, the next step is to try to get inside their heads and figure out what drives them – so that you can be their advocate.
* Process: Research. Design. Test. Then do it all over again as early and as often as possible.
* Alignment: Make sure your organizations goals and Web site are aligned with your customers’ needs and expectations."    (Continued via Kevin Mireles)    [Usability Resources]


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