UX for Beginners: What You Need to Know About UX in 2018

In 2017, UX was one of the most talked about topics in the design industry.

In the United States alone, 32,000 people search for UX-related terms monthly. And, if Google search results are anything to go by, it's clear that most people don't quite "get" UX.

We sat down with UX expert, Nick Babich, to get to the bottom of this design sensation.

What is Good UX?

It’s important to clarify what is meant by “user experience.” UX refers to the way people interact with a product – either online or in the physical world.

UX encompasses everything that affects a user’s interaction with a product. The sum of your interactions with a product becomes the experience that you have with it. So, good UX is any product that makes you feel good about it. Typically, it needs to have good usability (works good) and good aesthetics (looks good).

Why Does UX Matter for Small Businesses?

UX is essential to your success as a business. Why? Because user experience plays a critical role in attracting and maintaining your customer base.

It's no secret that today's users expect a lot from brands. People experience products emotionally, after all. And, although it may be uncomfortable to think about, negative emotions are more memorable than positive ones.

According to Forrester Research, every dollar invested in UX makes $100 in return on average. That's a ROI of 9,900 percent. Massive.

How Do You Measure UX impact?

By analyzing metrics. Metrics are signals that reveal whether your UX strategy is working or not.

The most common UX metrics are:

  • Task success rate (in marketing, it's also known as conversion rate)
  • Retention rate
  • Time on task
  • Error rate

There are a few specific UX metrics for website projects:

  • Pageviews
  • Bounce rate
  • Back-button usage
  • Cost per conversion (CPC)

What Websites Do You Think Get UX Right?

I don’t know of a website that gets every aspect of UX right, but I have a few examples of websites that provide good UX.

One of my favorites is Netflix. Netflix uses machine learning to provide hyper relevant content for subscribers. I believe that personalization is a critical aspect of good user experience. And, a lot of services today strive to provide tailored content for their users to make their UX better.

What's Your Favorite UX Design Tool?

My #1 tool is a pen and paper. I use it more often than any other tools. I think that sketching is an essential skill for designers. Without good sketching skills, it’s really hard to express your thoughts, or deliver your ideas to other people.

When it comes to digital tools, I rely on Adobe products (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD and Adobe Comp). As a user, I like that all Adobe products are a part of the same family. This makes it easier to switch from one product to another and synchronize information.

What Are the Most Common UX Pitfalls to Avoid if You're Designing a New Website?

There are two common pitfalls for new projects:

The first is creating products without a feedback loop. When you create something that will be used by other people it’s essential to have a periodic validation for your hypothesis. I can think of a few cases where brands spent three to five years building what they thought was "good" only to find that it’s not what users need. Design Sprints, a framework tool, helps you avoid falling into this “confirmation bias” trap.

Another common mistake I see businesses make is not doing their homework. Even when you have a great idea, you still need to test it. It's key to test your product with actual people to validate your design decisions. It's a common misconception that you need to have a lot of participants to conduct usability testing.

According to Jakob Nielsen, testing with just five users will help you find 85% of the usability problems.

And, How About Existing Products?

For existing products, the most common pitfall is revolution redesign.

In his article The Quiet Death of the Major Re-Launch, Jared Spool described how eBay redesigned it’s homepage. eBay suddenly changed the background color from yellow to white, which resulted in a lot of negative feedback from users who were familiar with the old interface. Users don’t like sudden change, especially if it changes interactions that are familiar to them. When doing a redesign, it’s essential to make it a subtle evolution, not a big revolution.

Are There Any UX Web Design Pitfalls to Watch out For?

Not tracking and analyzing your web analytics.

There are a number of great tools you can use, such as Google Analytics. By analyzing how users interact with your website - i.e. what are the most popular pages, how do users navigate from one page to another, etc. - you’ll be able to better understand what elements should be improved or completely reworked.

What's Next for UX?

I think augmented reality for mobile users will be the next big thing for UX.

We already have powerful devices such as the Apple iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. And, both Google and Apple recently released ARKit and ARCore frameworks for developers which make it easy to create AR apps.

And How About Website UX?

For web design, I think that VR is an interesting and promising technology. Big names in the web industry such as Mozilla, piloted technologies like WebVR last year. WebVR makes it possible to deliver VR experiences without installing an app. It’s amazing!

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity. All thoughts are the author’s own.

Nick Babich is a software developer who’s passionate about user experience. Nick’s writing has been featured in Net magazine, Smashing Magazine, and UX Planet, where he is Editor-in-chief. Read Nick’s work on his website.

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