Competitors in the marketplace are constantly jostling to be the best. The companies that come out ahead focus on user experiences and offer an experience that is insightful, intuitive and intended. Designing for the user, whether a website or the actual product, just makes sense. No one likes to be frustrated or confused.
In his Web Content 2007 session, Improve Your User's Experience: Improve Your Bottom Line
, Brian Winters, Director of Usability at CareerBuilder.com, advised that companies must first understand what the user wants. Think about the context in which the customer will be using your site. What, ideally, is the user supposed to do? Next, determine a user's expectations from the ground floor. They might be different from what was originally designed. What is obvious to the designer is not always obvious to the user.
Focusing on user experience is important as it affects the perceived credibility of the site or product, the profitability, users' intent to return, their intent to buy, and probably most importantly, consequent word of mouth - good or bad.
Improving user experience involves metrics and testing. Where are users losing interest? What is keeping them from finding what they want?
Using site analytics
, you can see most anything, from the time spent on a page to the path a user takes to complete the process of applying for job or purchasing a product. Testing your site using focus groups, remote users, or the guys in accounting is invaluable, as it will usually point out road blocks and bottlenecks in the design. When making changes, measure their results.
The sooner one focuses on the user, the better the experience will be from the beginning. Having to change gears once a site or product is established, while helpful in the long run, may throw customers off initially.
Becoming synonymous with good user experience is the best that a company can hope to achieve. The return on investment will be worth it and your customers will thank you.