17 May 2017 18:23 IST

Demystifying UX in the age of digital convergence

Today, grappling on quality and price is not enough. It’s the experience that has to be just right

We live in an era where delivering great consumer experience is paramount to a company, in a dynamic environment. But in this age of liberated digital empowerment, marketers ought to ensure they deliver excellent user experience as well.

Between the giant dunes of customer data, and consumers’ ever-increasing expectations of the brands they interact with, marketers have enough and more on their plate.

This attempt at explaining user experience (UX) isn’t intended to turn marketers into designers of graphic user interfaces (UIs). In fact, marketers don’t necessarily need to learn much about the art and science of graphic design at all. They only need an eye for design.

Marketers should use a lot of digital products to get a sense of what works well and what doesn’t. The real experience can teach a good deal about UX.

In this article, I will demystify the definition of UX, elucidate the fundamentals of good UX, and explain how much a bad UX can affect customer experience and cost businesses huge sums of money.

By the end of it, you will startappreciating UX, and be able to make a strong case to stakeholders on why good user experience is avalue proposition in the digital age.

Let’s demystify UX

I will not overcomplicate the definition. As the name denotes, it simply refers to a user’s experience within a digital platform, or across a series of platforms. Gradually, people are realising the importance of an unswerving and unified UX across physical and virtual touchpoints.

Unfortunately, the term ‘UX’ isn’t inferred correctly in marketing. It is often misinterpreted because people throw around terms without knowing their actual meaning, and end up using it in the not--most-accurate form.

UX is often confused with the user interface or UI. Though UI is an intrinsic component of the digital UX, marketers should consider the difference between the two in the same way they see the relationship between marketing and advertising.

While all of the advertising may perhaps fit under the marketing umbrella, the reverse is not true. The same way, a great UI that is easy to use is essential to delivering a good UX, but the terms are fairly exclusive.

UX is the process of analysing how customers interact with your product or service and how it changes from awareness and interest to conversion and retention. In simple terms, it’s more holistic. A good UX can help you understand your customer journey.

What is a good UX?

Before that, let’s ruminate on another question: What is good marketing? There are many answers to this, and it depends on the brand in question, the audience a campaign is trying to reach, the media used in the campaign, and the life-cycle of the campaign, among other parameters.

Defining a good UX is a bit more candid, and dependent on the core aspect of the product or service, and the business itself. But there are some concrete considerations that can be taken into account.

There are three core components of a good UX.

~ Being consistent by keeping it simple

~ Being easy to implement

~ Constantly evolving

The first component is fairly consistent with the principles of a good design. Be visually consistent, and favour simple designs that are easy to navigate. However, marketers must also consider the ease of implementation of the product or service in question. You can design a perfect system that is extremely difficult to technically implement, rendering it not only flawed but also difficult.

And finally, a good UX must persistently evolve. People mistakenly believe that once you get that UX in place, the rest will work itself out and be fine. But that’s not the case. UX is a repetitive process — you must continuously collect data on how customers use your product and improve accordingly.

How valuable is good UX?

The value of a good UX can elevate a brand and a not-so-good UX can negatively upset its name. Bad or not-so-good UX can cost companies a lot, by driving up development costs as the need to crush bugs or optimise sloppy technology increases.

Lousy UX can stimulate internal issues with production if a product isn’t easy to use for people even within the organisation. The same goes for sales. It is difficult to demonstrate the benefits of a product if the sales team struggles to use it themselves, possibly costing the company sales revenue.

And not to forget the cost associated with customer service complaints about the product; complaints that can often be traced back to the quality of the UX design.

Think of BYJU’s or the likes of Uber, which have have continuously reinvented themselves by delivering simple, immediate, and personalised experiences. A lot of people aren’t just looking for a product or service — they are seeking good UX.

In fact, it’s the digital consumer’s journey that highlights the need for excellent UX. With a range of brands and products a click away, grappling on quality and price is no longer enough. It’s the experience that has to be just right.