Mar 21, 2013

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User Experience



Mar 21, 2013

Why You Need User Experience Thinking

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Think about the variety of interactions you have in your day.

Each day, you interact with a variety of people, places, websites, products and spaces.  These experiences contribute to the quality of your life – from the joy of having breakfast with an old friend at a classic diner to the frustration of standing in line at the post office.

We all want more good experiences in our lives – don’t we?

Crafting a Holistic Brand Experience

This is where you come in.  Maybe you have an existing company or product or maybe you are just thinking of launching your own business.  Experiences begin with the founder, with the company culture and get translated somehow to the customer (the user).  These experiences can be good or bad.  Incredible or average.  Your customer will have an experience whether or not you take charge of it.  You might as well make it a good one.


So, how do you create a good experience?  Ideally, it is better than good.  It should be a superb, not easily duplicated, incredible, can’t live without, over the moon, I’ll give you all my money and my firstborn…experience.

What Are You Doing?

Start with your vision.  What are you accomplishing?  What problem are you solving?  What need are you filling in the lives of humans?

If you haven’t yet done this, write it down.  It should be one or two sentences.  It is your elevator pitch.  Get out all your ideas, distill it down, make it clear and easy to understand.  Seth Godin recommends you phrase it in a way that opens a conversation, rather than appeals as a sales pitch.  His post on that here: Seth’s Blog.

Here is a great example from Codecademy:


Who Are You Doing It For

This can get tricky.  Many people think they know their customer.  Often, they don’t.  In the User Experience (UX) Community, we are fond of saying “you are not your user.”  Repeat that mantra over and over until you live it.

You can spend a lot of time guessing or projecting what your customer wants or needs, but you are mostly wasting time.  The best way to understand user needs is to develop a deep sense of empathy for your user through observing them as they encounter your problem.

For example, your company wants to make it easier to talk on the phone in the car.

You might try watching people talk on the phone while driving.  Watch at least 5 people (Jakob Nielsen‘s rule for significant results) use their phone in the car.  Observe what they do.  Write it down.  Think about it.  What are they using now?  How are they using it?  What are the opportunities there for improvements?

Seth Godin says that you have to understand the story someone is telling themselves now about this product, problem, idea in order to tap into what will resonate with them.

From Physical to Digital

The internet is still young by world standards.  Businesses embraced the art of customer service long before user experience design was formalized.  We witness many business owners do a remarkable job of talking with their customer in person, serving them in real time and ensuring a high quality experience at their store.

However, when that same customer comes to the website, the experience is quite different.  Unfortunately for them, there is no human there to guide them through it.

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about how DryBar offers a great user experience in the physical world.  Arturo was quick to point out to me that while the experience at the store may be great, the experience online is seriously lacking.

Luckily, I met Alli in person and saw the store, both experiences that made me a prospective customer long before I went to the website.  However, for users who land on the website first, the experience is inconsistent.


I’m not going to pick apart the DryBar website but I will say that for the incredible, totally worth every penny experience they give their customers in person, they could benefit from valuing their web users and converting more of them into paying customers.  They could monetize users who don’t live near a DryBar through a better store experience that address what their users want to buy online.  They could make that DryBar company culture omnipresent on the web.  Drawing people out of the hillsides and the rivers running to a computer just to see the latest DryBar news online.

Suffice it to say, you can never be doing enough user research and observation.  Both in person and through your website/app.


Why It Should Matter To You

If you are not convinced that you should be listening to the users in a profound and substantial way, consider this: why build a product no one wants?

You can have a great idea, but execute it poorly.  Maybe you understand the problem, but you can’t nail the solution.  Maybe you have a great solution, but aren’t clearly explaining it.  If a user can’t figure out your product, even if they need it, they will move on – back to their regularly scheduled day and out of your customer funnel.  You’ve lost them.

Never fear.  There is a way to get them back.  Pay attention to your users.  Hold them close to you like money.  If they leave, reach out to them, ask for their feedback, for their experience, for what they expected and for they understood about your product.

You will be surprised what you find.  You may unlock a greater potential than you ever imagined.


(Sidenote: if you don’t know where to begin, we do user research and can help steer you towards a path to success.  Email me at  #GoLean)




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