For any business, it’s much easier to connect to consumers or to get people to buy a product if they have a positive experience using it. One might be inclined that “user experience” is firmly tacked onto websites or smartphone apps.
This is only partially true. Companies that create an experience around their products have the potential to get more customers and have their brand spread via word of mouth or via the social media.
What is user experience?
The term itself was coined by Dr. Donald Norman in the ‘90s. He was among the first to describe the importance of user-centered design – the idea that design decisions should be based on the needs and wants of users.
A user experience can stem from just about anything – physical stores involve the interaction of potential customers and the staff, or having their questions answered promptly and correctly. It can even stem from how quickly a customer can traverse a store, get their desired item, pay for it and exit.
The user experience is how a business acquires and retains customers, regardless of the form it comes in.
How does it affect a business?
According to Jonathan Beckman, in a column published via Invision, 94 percent of the factors that affect a user’s first impression of a product are design-related. Bad design is a reason why 95 percent of mobile apps are abandoned within a month.
It’s stuff like this that has caused major shifts within a company. For example, look at the way Uber’s user experience has the concept of paying a stranger for a ride looking more appealing. Look at the way applications like Slack and Discord make it easier for people to hop online to talk, or the upgrades that people have either loved or hated on Facebook.
One of the larger cases in which the negative user experience nearly drove a business bankrupt involves the original release of Final Fantasy XIV Online, an ambitious massively multiplayer online role-playing game from Square Enix.
The backlash from what seemed like an unfinished and unpolished game prompted backlash from its users, citing that the user interface was clunky and there were many problems with the game’s overall performance. Square Enix’s stock that year plummeted and caused the removal of the game’s producer and director from their posts.
The game was rebuilt from the ground up and re-released as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, with massive improvements to the game as a whole. The new version racked up a robust sales number, and to date, has over 6 million players worldwide.
Why invest in it?
A Walker report on the future of brands and businesses states that by 2020, user experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. That allows a lot of businesses to become more visible beyond their price points.
That said, the endeavor to create great usability in a business and, thereby, the overall user experience is complex. Just 55 percent of companies actually invest in it outside of the businesses whose stock and trade revolves around creating experiences for the user, for the rest, it’s either invest in it now or get left behind.
A study by Forrester revealed that a focus on the user and customer experience increases the willingness to pay by about 14 percent, and that every dollar spent on the CX and UX brings about $2 to $100 in return.
All businesses that are making the shift toward improving the user experience are set to join businesses like Nike, organizations like NASA.
There are huge opportunities for businesses that alter their focus toward making the experience even better for their users, and it isn’t just from a profit standpoint. Investing in design and making sure that users get the best experiences from a product can lead to further changes and breakthroughs for humanity as a whole.
Miggy Castañeda writes about personal finance for MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.