With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that the remaining 45% are jumping straight into their website build or re-build with lots of bright ideas but no user research to back it up.
In today’s digital age, this approach won’t cut it. As a business, you need to keep up with the demands of your consumers if you want to out-rank the competition and convert more users. So why are so many businesses, and agencies, ignoring this vital factor when creating a new website?
What is user experience?
User experience, or ‘UX’, is a term that’s becoming more prominent in the website build process. Great user experience isn’t something that your visitors will necessarily notice. Instead, the UX will guide the user through your website, facilitating their needs and seamlessly moving them through the funnel.
On the other hand, a lousy user experience is something your audience will notice. Have you ever visited a website where you couldn’t find out what the brand does, let alone find what you’re looking for? 46% of online shoppers list this as the main reason for leaving a website, and 38% stated they would stop engaging with a site if the layout was unattractive. These numbers alone tell us that we need to be doing more to understand our target audience and using the results to inform our design process.
An excellent way to think of UX is as a third dimension to the website build process. You have the first dimension: you (as the client), your ideas, assumptions, skillset, and knowledge of your company and the industry. Then you have your web agency and their expertise of what works for other clients. But, neither of you know your audience’s desires. So you then you have the customer, who knows what they’re looking for and what they find engaging, and this knowledge is invaluable.
The user experience process
User discovery acts as an additional bolt-on to the website buying process. Coming before the sitemap and wireframes, it can act as an initial research phase. It can also run parallel to the entire build process from start to finish, informing every decision along the way.
While user research isn’t essential to the website buying process, it is a worthy investment. The data you gather will allow you to make more informed decisions that are fit-for-purpose instead of assumption lead.
We can’t speak for other agencies, but at Supersonic Playground, our user-experience discovery process is as follows:
An initial content audit
If you already have a website with quality content, we’ll review this with you and recommend what we think works and should stay. We’ll also evaluate what parts you might want to rethink and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Following the content audit, we’ll carry out an on-site workshop with you and your team to further review the content with key business stakeholders to decide what stays and what goes.
We’ll work with you to establish a list of key stakeholders. These could be your clients or customers, partners, internal team members or other key people associated with your business. Then, we’ll speak to them to find out more about your relationship, their thoughts about your site, what works, and what’s missing.
Similar to the content audit, we’ll evaluate your existing site’s design to assess what elements we can take to the new site and which ones need complete reworking.
Knowing what works for your competitors is key. A thorough competitive analysis will give you a whole host of ideas you might not have considered that you can bring to your site.
Navigation testing is an opportunity to trial your new sitemap. We create a ‘dummy’ navigation and then invite your customers to test it using an online tool. We ask them to complete a series of tasks during this process and report back how intuitive the journey was and whether the naming conventions work.
Wireframes define the website’s content layout and where calls-to-action, pictures and text will appear on every page. Before the web build begins, we can use the basic design to test how friendly your user’s find it. This step allows us to mitigate issues and carry out essential changes before time gets wasted during the build.
We can also conduct on-site user testing for the wireframes, asking users to complete specific tasks and seeing how they use the new website’s defined layout.
Once your site is ready, we can create several variations of key pages. We can then split your site’s traffic in real-time to measure which version gains the most engagement. This method allows you to test ideas and assumptions, leaving it down to the user to tell you what works.
As a result, marketers and business owners can feel confident that they’re investing in a website that serves their audience and meets their needs. Instead of just thinking it might.
One of our clients, NPC, a charity think tank, invested in user discovery to give them confidence that they were doing their due diligence. UX assured them their website would be fit-for-purpose and be putting donor money to good use. We conducted a series of telephone interviews with key stakeholders, trustees and internal staff. This gave their audience a platform to tell us what worked and what didn’t – invaluable in ensuring the NPC message wasn’t getting lost.
Why should you carry out a user discovery project?
#1 It tells your customers that you care about their feedback
During the discovery process, you or your agency will be reaching out to lots of your key clients. This process in itself tells them that you value their opinion and care about their needs. They’ll also feel more connected to the new site, knowing they played a part in the research phase.
#2 It highlights issues you never knew existed
When carrying out user interviews and navigation testing, you’ll find pain points you would never have picked up on without the help of your participant. Allowing you to nip them in the bud before they cause the same friction on a live site.
#3 It enhances engagement and increases conversions
User discovery gives you the answers to your questions. It confirms or mitigates your assumptions, meaning your website will be more engaging because your users told you so. As a result, users will be more likely to convert, meaning more leads, a better-qualified sales pipeline, and a higher return on investment.
#4 It validates your ideas
Launching an untested website is a risk. A decline in traffic, higher bounce rates and missed opportunities are all issues that highlight bad UX and are all picked up post-launch. With an investment in user discovery, you can avoid costly fixes by validating your ideas ahead of launch.