Concerns about the nebulous or ill-defined returns offered by UX/UI design used to be fairly commonplace. Inbound marketing was top dog, and it was often hard for eCommerce managers, CMOs or CTOs to make a case for increased investment in the ‘softer’ science of user-experience optimisation.
Fortunately, things have definitely changed over the past few years. Increased competition across all digital verticals has forced businesses of every size to invest in dedicated UX and UI improvement, and the new focus on accessible, intuitive and user-friendly web design has prompted something of a race amongst the internet’s biggest players.
A study published by UserTesting found that 7.6% of the companies surveyed spent more than €85,000 on UX or UI design, and big brands like ESPN.com have reported a 35% increase in revenue after engaging in dedicated UX/UI optimisation.
Worried about being left behind? We’ve put together this handy guide to UX/UI design; explaining the discipline in full, and highlighting some of the benefits that it can bring to your business.
At their core, UX and UI design are two, independent disciplines that focus on making sure that a website is easy to parse and easy to use. They both focus on streamlining every aspect of the users journey, and look for every opportunity to reduce drop-off in key segments of your user base.
UI or ‘user interface’ design usually encompasses the visual elements of a website, and generally focuses on ensuring that a site:
• Look appealing
• Encourages interaction
• Reinforces your brand’s trustworthy and reliable nature
It also looks after the finer detail by ensuring that things like buttons have a recognisable and consistent design across the site, and that product pages are designed to funnel the user down towards a nice, clear CTA.
UX or ‘user experience’ design normally focuses on the mechanical aspects of a site; the checkout journey, the account signup process or the feedback given by adding a product to your basket. It also covers more technical elements of experience improvement, like reducing site load speed.
UX design is often seen as something of a ‘second fiddle’ to UI design, particularly where highly visual mediums, like websites, are concerned. The truth is that UX design can have a profound impact on your sites performance though: Industry research shows that up to 38% of lost traffic can be recaptured by speeding up a website, or optimising the checkout process.
Understanding the degree to which UX and UI design could improve your business isn’t easy. Irrespective of whether you’re heading up the marketing department, running a small business or overseeing the web team at a large organisation , it’s all but impossible to spot the things that a qualified UX expert would pick up in a heartbeat, which makes having expert help on-hand absolutely essential.
To give you a good idea of the benefits associated with UX and UI optimisation, we’ve put together a list of the 5 things that investment in dedicated UX/UI designers generally allows a business to do:
The first and most obvious benefit of dedicated UX/UI design is that it provides you with an opportunity to remove the roadblocks suppressing conversion rates across your site.
Whether you’re trying to get customers to download a brochure, make an enquiry or buy a product, the simple fact of the matter is that minute issues cause customers to bounce away from your site before completing a conversion.
According to InVision, an estimated 75% of customers make snap judgements about a websites credibility based on aesthetics alone, and a study published in Amazon AWS’ Comprehensive Guide To The ROI of UX found that a staggering 27% of customers would abandon their basket if the checkout process was too long or complicated.
Employing dedicated, professional UX and UI designers will allow you to maximise your chances of persuading customers to trust your site, and allow you to recover some of this lost revenue far more effectively than something like an abandoned basket email campaign.
People who enjoy using your website, quickly locate their chosen products and checkout without any hitches are far, far more likely to come back in future. They’re also much more likely to recommend your website to friends and family.
In an age where people are very quick to link out to their favourite sites on social media, and messaging apps like Whatsapp, establishing yourself as a go-to destination for shopping, browsing or downloading useful information can quickly create a snowball effect, where your direct traffic climbs and you find yourself playing host to an increasingly large (and loyal) customer base.
This is doubly true if your UX/UI designers work hard to eliminate common issues that are known to negatively impact customer retention, like exit pop-ups boasting about large, percentage-based discounts or insubstantial feedback during the add to basket process.
Spending money to send prospective customers to your site is all well and good, but if a good 40% of those customers bounce away because of a sub-optimal user experience, you’re actually wasting a fairly large chunk of your marketing budget.
Investing in UX/UI improvements before you send visitors to your site will allow you to maximise your chances of retaining customers sent via your various channels, and boost on-site engagement rates/conversions too. In doing so, it will help to improve the ROI of your inbound campaigns, and allow your marketing team to report on increasingly successful campaigns, instead of scratching their heads as your visitor count multiplies, but your revenue stays flat.
This is particularly true of UI work, which generally seeks to improve a customer’s first impressions of a site. UX design can also really help you to squeeze every € of marketing spend too though: Creating frictionless, accessible and straightforward sign-in and checkout processes has been found to boost conversion rates by up to 30% in some studies, and there’s also evidence to show that customers are much more likely to re-order from sites that make it easy to make the initial purchase.
When you learn that up to 34% of your potential online revenue might be lost because of poor UI/UX, it’s very easy to get caught up in the rush to maximise conversions, or improve visitor flow to key areas like the checkout.
Good UX and UI design does also focuses on visitor retention too though; maximising the time on site by ensuring that customers are guided through clear and well-signposted content funnels, or boosting pageviews by showcasing the variety of pre-existing content that might interest your visitors.
Enhanced engagement statistics, including low bounce rates, increase time on site or increased page views will make your CMO very happy. They do also have a knock-on effect on things like organic search rankings, which gives them a definite, quantifiable value in their own right.
Websites that offer truly seamless UX are few and far between; some €1.2 billion is thought to be lost every year due to poor UI/UX and that loss is spread fairly evenly across the overwhelming majority of websites worldwide.
As a result, the very best sites, which offer a well-optimised user experience, tend to be talked about a lot online. Sites like adidas.ie are regularly featured in articles published by Medium or even Adobe
Investing in good UX/UI means that there’s a chance that your website will end up being featured in articles like this, or talked about by the incredibly-active UX/UI community, and that kind of publicity can be incredibly helpful in the long-term.
When it comes to actually investing in UX/UI design, it’s important to take the right approach.
UX/UI design can be outsourced, but it’s always better to retain oversight of the process, particularly if external contractors are unlikely to understand the exact specifics of your target market, or the particular habits of your long-term customers.
It is for this reasons that organisations are starting to establish their own, in-house teams of UX/UI designers. These professionals bring a lot of real-world experience to the table, but their status as company employees means that they can still be slowly educated as to the particular nuances of your customer base, or the specifics of your company’s needs.
If you’re looking to grow your UX/UI team, we’d be more than happy to offer you support and advice. We’re an established recruitment agency that specialises in sourcing UX and UI talent, and we’re always more than happy to help businesses build the in-house resource that will take them to the next level. Get in touch today, and one of our experts, will walk you through the strategic advice that we can offer.
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Author: Carl Flynn
Carl Flynn specialises in UX Design & Digital recruitment. Call Carl today for expert strategic advice on how to build your dream UX team.