Designing a User Experience Approach That Begins and Ends with Your Customer
Relentless Definition & Consideration of Customer Needs
There’s a lot of talk about a customer-centric approach these days. But what does that mean, and how is that actually manifested in the places and spaces where your customer lives online?
User Experience (UX) is a customer-centric discipline, not a tactic or a checkbox. It’s not just usability. Or research. Or interaction design. It’s all of those things—and more— rolled into an approach that considers user needs at every stage of a program, including planning, design, development, and measurement.
The approach starts with your customers. Adopting a user-centered philosophy begins with answering these fundamental questions:
Who are your customers?
- What roles do they play?
- What are their needs and goals?
- How do they currently interact with you online?
- What context do they bring to their experience with your brand and programs?
Understanding your customers
You must ask. You must listen. And you must watch. A skilled UX team uses primary and secondary research to understand customers, achieving the first two UX principles: Respect and Relevance.
It is crucial to do up-front research to glean insights that drive the work and ensure your customers’ needs are met or exceeded. Depending upon the questions that remain unanswered, any number of the following methodologies could be employed:
- Site analytics assessment
- User interviews
- Usability testing
- Ethnographic research
- User surveys
- Site intercept surveys
- Secondary research
Next, bring your customers to life in the form of personas—research-based archetypes that exemplify target customers—including details like backgrounds, motivations, needs, and behaviors. Use personas as your continuous barometer for design, development and measurement, guiding decision-making at every step.
Making it efficient and simple
"We should design experiences to behave as a likable person: respectful generous and helpful."
A skilled UX team works in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of experts to build the user experience, addressing business requirements and user requirements simultaneously. At Intouch Solutions, our director of user experience brings over 13 years of user-centered experience in interactive marketing and services to the team, employing information architecture and interaction design best practices to deliver on the promises of Efficiency and Simplicity.
Along the way, we suggest testing initial design deliverables (like wireframes, concepts and interaction design) with end users to ensure the experience follows all four key UX principles.
For example, analytics for a client’s website revealed a high bounce rate on a page featuring a slideshow of patient results after using a product. A UX evaluation of the page identified opportunities to improve interaction design, and Intouch Solutions recommended A/B testing to ensure the experience was improved, not damaged. A/B testing splits website traffic equally between two page designs (existing vs. new in our case), then measures performance for each page using critical site metrics like conversion rate, time spent or bounce rate.
The test results spoke for themselves. Just over twice as many users interacted with the new page design than the old. In addition, the new design also showed a 13% lift in visits to physician profile pages (a KPI for the site), whereby a site visitor could locate a physician specially trained to administer the product.
A customer-centered design process is never truly complete. The interactive space is constantly changing, and we recommend our clients continue evolving their experience to ensure customer and business needs are addressed. A laser-focused commitment to measurement and optimization will help maximize ROI and address ever-changing customer needs.
If you’re serious about being customer-centric, you’ll make it a crucial part of your culture, not just a checkbox or a stand-alone process. Keep in mind these five key elements of a customer-centric culture:
- View customer experience as critical to meeting company business goals.
- Share an accurate understanding of customers and their needs.
- Align your company strategy with customer needs.
- Create common goals across your organization.
- Support customer-experience initiatives from the top down.
And use our four key principles of UX as you make decisions regarding your customers: Respect. Relevance. Efficiency. Simplicity.