What is user experience (UX) & why focus on how people actually use your website


5 mins

In 1993, Don Norman coined the term “user experience” for his group at Apple Computer. When he coined the term, he was talking about the whole experience from packaging to customer service.

However, it’s nothing new. In 1955, industrial designer, Henry Dreyfuss, wrote “Designing For People”, in which he stressed the connection between people, their experience, and the successful design of a product.

Designing for people

When I first set out to work on websites, I focused on continually trying to make them better. Not with one-off builds, but by helping our clients develop pages and produce content that helps the people using the website understand the products or services better. User experience actually goes one step further than just working on the website. For example:

User experience & conversion rate optimisation

What we ask when we first start working with a client is ‘how can we make the experience of the visitors as meaningful and valuable as possible?’

Conversion rate optimisation is all about user experience. The truth is, while it is important to concentrate, talk about, and measure conversions, if you do not enhance your website’s user experience, the chances of making a real difference to the conversion rate will remain very low.

A user experience might look like this:

  1. Sees an advert on social media
  2. Visits the website to find more information
  3. Understands clearly the value from that service or product
  4. Can navigate easily around the website without any frustrating popups or bugs
  5. There are no issues for a user with a disability

For the person using this website, nothing got in the way of their decision-making. No bugs, no frustrating navigation, no searching around for shipping costs or opening times; just a very easy experience. Boom, your conversion rate and sales increase.

Let’s think about this. If you opened a shop on the high street and the door on the way in was slightly broken, or at the checkout the card machine didn’t work, you would probably not expect customers to buy. What if you didn’t cater to shoppers with a disability? You wouldn’t expect to win retailer of the year.

Why think about your website in any other way?

A good, no, great user experience (UX) can only be achieved with two things:

  1. A bug-free website (this is hard because updates, changes, etc always break things so always needs reviewing)
  2. Having a deep understanding of users, what they need, and value.

This all needs to align, of course, with your business goals. This isn’t about asking users what they want, this is about making sure visitors understand what your business offers.

My 5 main ways to keep improving user experience

  1. Ask for feedback
    Find out how people use your website, what they like, what they don’t like. By setting up surveys on your website you can uncover important objections from your customers.
  2. Use standards and benchmarking 
    This might seem obvious, but believe me, over time your website can become messy. We all expect logos to be at the top of the page, navigation to be on the left or top, and the use of H1, H2, and H3. This is what people expect, so it’s important to give it to them by cleaning up your website.
  3. Make sure nothing is broken
    Websites are always being updated, so are browsers, systems, platforms…. it’s never-ending. You need to constantly check your website isn’t putting people off by simply not working. This is a really important point, we work with any clients who want “Conversion Rate Optimisation” but find they have hundreds of broken elements on their website.
  4. Be clear
    Make sure your message is clear and consistent for all channels. Users get frustrated with different messaging.
  5. Make sure your website is accessible and not slow
    Drop your pop-ups, make sure nothing gets in the user’s way, and make sure users with disabilities can easily access your website.  You can check your website here

All these points will soon become part of Google’s measurement for search results.

People will continue to coin new terms.

Testing out ideas and putting people first. This has been a successful strategy for businesses for many years. This, my friends, is what will have a long-term effect on your business.

Adrian Grindley

Aico Bigblu Push Curteis Stagecoach SAS