UX and “good design” is not just a matter of good taste!

by Beatrice Bottoni

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It’s very likely you have already heard of User Experience (UX) in the digital world – it is actually a much wider concept that can be applied to any context – appeared for the first time in the mid 90’s.

As stated by Donald Norman, who first invented this word, UX means users’ experience and encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products, those users for which such goods and services have been specifically designed.

Not unexpectedly, this concept relates to the thoughts and feelings of an individual towards a system, whatever it is, on things such as the usefulness, ease of use, efficiency and the “desirability” of that system. The user and his perceptions are therefore the focus of this discipline, which is known as “user-centered design.”

caffettiera-masochistaBefore switching to the digital enviroment (definitely of your interest, if you’re here :) ) let’s start from a rather far example from the web scenario – the coffee maker you see in the picture.  Now, try to imagine someone who tries to pour hot coffee from that coffee pot… besides some not repeatable words :D, surely he is asking himself who could design such a silly object.. though it might be visually nice. The point is just that – the object was not designed according to an “user-centric” approach  and the designer’s mindset (in this case questionable for sure) does not absolutely match with the one of the “real” users of the item. This is an example of a particularly absurd object, but how often it comes you natural to pull a door instead of sliding it, or constantly switch on the wrong cook fire by activating the wrong knob?

Let us now bring this matter in the digital world… how many times did you visit a website and would define this experience as “frustrating”? Maybe you had to scroll through all the menu bar to find a particular section of the site, or you have struggled to add an item to your cart and complete the order.

This generally occurs because the site is not intuitive and requires extra cognitive effort by the user – this kind of errors are not only typical of small organizations’ websites, but also those of major brands.

In order to avoid incurring in such mistakes it is crucial to follow certain guidelines of good design (they are also available online), the choice of which ones to apply clearly depends on the type of your business and your objectives.

In the next post we will go through a selection of guidelines that, in our opinion, are the ones your website should definitely follow (whether it is a corporate or an e-commerce website).

But in the meantime, in case you’re wondering if your site is offering a UX tailored to your users, you should pay attention at some “red flags”: thanks to web analytics tools you are indeed able to monitor metrics such as bounce rate and the average time on site.

Generally, a high bounce rate can be a symptom of poor design: users landed on your site, but due to a chaotic layout, overloaded of contents and unclear navigation paths, they leave without continuing with the navigation.

As far as bounce rate is concerned, the matter is pretty intuitive unlike the average time on site – often it is  (incorrectly) believed that the higher this value is, the more users are interested in the site’s contents.

This can be true when the site proposes several editorial contents, however in the case of an e-commerce site, if users spend a significantly higher time on the product selection rather than on the registration page, could that be a symptom that they are struggling to find what they need, or they are facing difficulties to proceed along the funnel?