Why UX is more important than ever

by Michael Jacobi on 8 October 2015

In part two of a two part series offering outsider perspectives on UX Design, Michael Jacobi offers his thoughts as a newcomer to UX regarding why it's so important for businesses today.

As a recent joiner to Webcredible, I'll be honest when I say that my knowledge of UX was fairly limited when I first applied to join. Beyond a literal understanding that it focused on users and what they experience, I didn't have a strong grasp as to what level of importance UX had in ensuring commercial effectiveness.

Except that I did, I just didn't know it yet. I'm confident that I could say the same for most consumers.

Consumers are very aware of UX, though they may not know it

To give you a personal example, I can still remember the conscious shift I made to using Uber regularly over its competitors. After opening a competitor's app following a massive update and complete visual overhaul, two thoughts immediately hit me:

  1. Wow, this looks completely different, definitely a much sleeker design!
  2. Wait... how do I book a cab?

I couldn't figure it out after 30 seconds of tapping icons, zooming in on cars on a map, and desperately swiping away in the hope that a menu would appear. It doesn't sound like a long amount of time, but in app terms 30 seconds can seem like an eternity. Compare that with Uber, where I booked a cab and was on my way seamlessly (and my first ride was free, adding icing to the cake).

Uber is an oft-cited example of UX done right, massively changing an industry. Clichéd as it may be, it serves to highlight a wider trend: improvements in technology have led to consumers gaining greater power to choose, and an overwhelming factor in their choice revolves around the experience they have with your website and/or app.

A follow on effect of the increase in ease of choice is that consumer expectations have also increased. When I bought my iPhone – arguably one of the most technically complex day-to-day personal devices available on the market to date – I turned it on and was able to use all of its functions instantly. Why shouldn't the apps I use or the websites I access be at a similar standard of service and experience?

A follow on effect of the increase in ease of choice is that consumer expectations have also increased.

Instructions not included

I'm not the only one picking things up out of the box, as UX design standards continue to rise. A study in 2012 that gave Motorola tablets to remote Ethiopian rural villages soon resulted in local school children using 47 apps per day. After 5 months the previously illiterate children of the villages had learned the alphabet (fairly impressive) and hacked Android on the tablets to perform functions the researchers had originally blocked (probably better than I could ever do). In an age where the instruction manual is no longer included, UX is paramount in ensuring effective consumption of your services.

Leading brands are aware of this, and are conducting user testing in new conditions to continue to improve the UX design aspects of their services. Facebook set out to improve their app by testing in regions of Africa. After discovering that 40 minutes of app usage had used up one month's worth of data in the region, they made a number of changes to optimise data usage (as someone who quickly used up their monthly data when auto-playing videos was first introduced, I'm glad Facebook are focusing on this specific aspect of their UX).

With all of that in mind, I think it's clear even to an outsider that UX design is paramount now for commercial success. Check out some of the techniques you can use to review your users' experience, and why not think about what your customers are actually going through when accessing your product/service?

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