Making the Case for UX
User Experience (UX) is part of the foundation of any brand. Positive UX lends itself to heightened loyalty, and subsequently, increases in sales and revenue. Investing in the study of who your customers are, why they use your product, how they behave when they use your project, and why they return to your product over competitors’ time and again is, essentially, one of the most valuable brand investments you can make.
Since the inception of the internet, User Experience has transformed into a dynamic and fluid facet of the overall brand experience. The internet, and the ways in which people use the internet changes every day thus driving the continuous alteration of a brand’s User Experience. Some brands may have resonated with their consumers in 2007, but now seven years later, if they haven’t adopted their product to changing human norms, needs and behaviors, then they might as well have left their product behind in 2007. Human behaviors and needs are constantly evolving, and brands need to keep up through continuous reconsideration of consumer behaviors and their own product offering.
User Experience is one of the most valuable pieces of equity a brand can own. Like everything else in life, perception is key; how consumers perceive your product to work and assist them in their daily lives may be entirely different to your original intent of product offering. Intention cannot determine brand success, only users can and users deem products to be successes or failures based on their personal experiences and interactions. In taking the time to invest in comprehensive user and product analysis, brands are empowering their ventures for sustainable success to keep up with ever-changing lifestyle and behavioral trends.
If You Want Answers, Just Ask
The term UX has become a convoluted buzz phrase, but, boiled down, it’s really just the process of understanding and influencing how and why audiences use products. If brands want to better resonate with their target consumers they must be willing to ask the right questions and apply the answers.
DealNews, a daily deals aggregate site sought answers and insight in to what a first time visitor’s experience on their site was like. In trying to improve engagement they understood that they needed to make some changes that would accommodate first time visitors without disrupting their daily visitors – not a simple feat. Understanding that they needed to find a way to better communicate their product, DealNews began user testing with the implementation of a new homepage for first-time users tracked against the performance of the homepage for existing users. The homepages displayed nearly identical content but the results were quite different.
The user test revealed that many new users were confused by the site; they didn’t know that there is a team of writers and editors searching for deals and creating the content daily because this was not blatantly communicated with them upon first glance. Without an adequate explanation of DealNews’ business model, new users’ behaviors did not align with DealNews’ goals. As an aggregator of brand products and promotions, DealNews is most successful when users can intuitively and quickly discover the products and deals that interest them. Unlike other sites, extended length of time is not an indicator of site strength for DealNews, as long amounts of time spent sifting through deals without clicking insinuates that the site structure and content is not compelling. When new users visited DealNews for the first time they either left too quickly as a result of confusion or browsed for too long as a result of confusion, with both behaviors pointing to DealNews’ inadequate site introduction.
As a result of initial field studies and contextual inquiries, PM Digital’s team of web experts recommended a solution to fix DealNews’ slight identity crisis: a simple introduction. A banner module, appearing only on first-time visits could efficiently communicate to new customers what DealNews is and what they could expect from their experience on the site. Although one banner with only a few lines of copy seems like a relatively simple and straight forward solution, it likely would never have been created without the added insights of user impressions and reactions to the site. These user observations shaped the success of the site redesign. Since the integration of the banner was set in place on first time user pages, the slight alteration proved to be the single most effective enhancement to date.
Test, and then test again
DealNews may have experienced success from the addition of the homepage banner, and the success will not be short lived as now DealNews recognizes the impact of user feedback and detailed testing. Had the brand not invested the time and energy to seek out the insights and takeaways from new users, they may have resorted to more extreme and unnecessary measures, like further rebranding or site restructuring. As this nuanced alteration represents, any aspect of a site, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can dynamically shift the entire site and brand perception. Inevitably, numerous factors and trends will continue to alter their users’ behavior and expectations. A successful User Experience practice mimics the dynamic fluidity of human behavior and preferences, adapting seamlessly to shifts in customer values. As it is not a one-and-done practice, DealNews will continue to commit resources and budgets to keeping their finger on the pulse of their consumers. Continuous deep dives into the user psyche through testing may again shed light on a simple change that can have enormous impact on brand identity and equity.