When it comes to the apps today’s companies rely on to turn prospects into leads, leads into customers, and customers into loyal clientele, staying on the cutting edge of app evolution can leave even industry-leading companies gasping for breath. The experience a user has with a business online, in the space of less than a minute, can furnish it with a reliable revenue stream or relegate it to the e-commerce dustbin.
What is UI/UX and Why Does It Matter?Starting with the broad view, UX, or user experience, deals with how the user interacts with a company and its services or products. UI, or user interface, deals with interactive features, such as menu bars and buttons, that serve as touchpoints between a user and an application. How that user experiences your business, through the lens of your application, is almost always their first—and perhaps last—impression of your company. With so much riding on that interaction, you can’t afford not to think about UI/UX. While the old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” may be true, the reality is users judge companies by their websites regularly. An outdated interface will undermine user confidence and encourage them to shop more modern competitor sites. Attractive graphics, intuitive navigation, and ease of use can make a big difference in traffic and retention of customers, helping separate you from the competition. While the skeptic in you might say, “But my app has a good time-tested UX that users are familiar with. It works and has a good conversion rate.” While button colors and background style may seem like small potatoes, studies by Forrester Research, an independent information technology research company, show that on average every dollar invested in design brings in $100 in profit. Fair or not, when users see an outdated app, it affects their perception of not just your app, but of your company as a whole.
How Do I Know If My UI/UX Needs an Update?Often knowing what you want starts with understanding what you don’t want. Before we can appreciate what good UX is, let’s explore what it’s not. With new apps coming out every day, it’s easier to find an alternative than for a user to deal with a clunky, outdated app that doesn’t offer what they are seeking. Let’s look at the main reasons for app abandonment.
- An app doesn’t meet users’ needs. Simply stated, a user downloads an app to solve a problem. If it doesn’t do that, chances are excellent there is one out there that will. Often, this happens when developers don’t grasp how users interact with their app.
- Load time. The percentage of users who open a website or app and leave without taking any further action (such as clicking a link or visiting another page) is the “bounce rate,” and it increases dramatically as load times increase from 1 to 10 seconds.
- Bad onboarding. The process by which users learn to navigate a new app is critical. Annoying popups that cover up information, confusing input forms, and unclear navigation steps are just a few UX aggravations that drive customers into the arms of your competitors.
- Privacy concerns. Frankly, with many users wary of companies that sell information to third parties, track their location, or leave data poorly protected, giving them the assurance that their data is secure and confidential is a must.
- Responsive Design & Cross-Platform Functionality. When mobile devices began to gain market traction, there was a need for specific UIs for desktop, mobile, and tablets. Now, when you embrace solid design principles for your app, one layout can be tailored to dynamically adjust to any device, making the UX across devices. Since the length of the average user interaction shrinks with the size of the screen of the device used, your UI needs to become increasingly efficient the smaller the device.
- Updated Visuals. Changing the UI/UX of your app is a great opportunity to make it really pop visually. A wide array of fonts are now available, allowing you to branch out from the standard Google fonts for website visuals. Custom photography is another way to distinguish your business. If your business is to stand out, why use the same images everyone else is? Also, embracing minimalism in logo design and other graphic design aspects can speed up load times. Finally, the digital card trend that has gone viral with blogs and websites provides an efficient way to present visual content and thus has begun finding its way into business applications.
- Keep Users Front-of-Mind. The whole point of a change in UX and UI is to deliver value to your users. To that end, pay close attention and take the time to understand who uses your application, how they use it, and what they like the most. Early on, focus groups and wireframes can get things off to a solid start. Later, usability testing allows users to complete a set of tasks and looks at how they do so. This reveals opportunities to improve by simplifying processes or making them more intuitive. Integrating feedback must be done surgically, prioritizing the most frequently-reported issues or those that have the greatest impact on a user’s experience.