With the advancement of technology, software developments, websites and web applications are reaching a new pinnacle of complexity each day. These intricate technologies and methodologies have evolved, and will continue evolving, into something which is rich and extremely interactive in nature. However, despite the complexity and augmentation of technologies, a website’s achievement is still determined by how the users interpret it.
There are some common questions that strike a user’s mind while going through a website – “Is this website giving me what I am looking for? Is it easily navigable? Am I pleased with it? The answers to these questions build the base of the user’s judgment to become a regular visitor of your website. User Experience (abbreviated as UX) is all about getting a positive response to these questions. With this post let us try and find more about User Experience.
What is User Experience?
From the name itself we can derive that User Experience is all about users’ experience. This experience is determined by what they achieve psychologically with a specific technology, which could be a software, website or website/mobile application. It is a form of human computer interaction (also known as HCI).
User Experience involves thorough understanding of web designing as well as the mindset of your target audience. To successfully offer high quality User Experience, you must know your users, their requirements, ethics, skills and restrictions too. The goal of your business and objectives of the team working on the project are also important to great UX.
Why is it important?
It really seems unimportant to actually justify the importance of User Experience in the contemporary society where every single person owns a mobile gadget and not having a proper website is considered an unprofessional approach by a company. It won’t be wrong if we simply say – User Experience is important because it deals with the need of the people for whom a technology is built.
We are witnessing drastic changes in the web technologies for the last two decades. Websites are no longer simple work of art that focuses on what the client has asked the designer to build. Website designing has become composite, feature rich, and it is essential for them to be user friendly. Moreover, we learnt about the importance of accessibility – web based products should be easily accessible on all sorts of computer and mobile devices. With so many changes taking place in web designing technologies, websites that survived were the ones that were able to gratify the users.
The Multifaceted World of User Experience
Few years ago, information architect and author, Peter Morville, stepped outside IA (information architecture) and expanded his interest in User Experience when he realized that there’s a need of a special diagram to help clients understand why they had to move further from usability. He has fantastically illustrated the multifaceted User Experience design with the help of a simple diagram known as Peter Morville’s UX Honeycomb.
Keeping this diagram in mind, for great user experience information must be:
Useful: Your content should fulfill the needs of the users and must serve the purpose for which they are using it.
Usable: Your site should be user-friendly and gratifying to users.
Desirable: Everything about the technology you are offering –image, identity, brand and other design elements – should evoke emotions in your visitors and they must be able to praise it.
Findable: Your content should be easily traceable and locating it should not bother any user onsite as well as offsite.
Accessible: Your website should be easily usable to someone with disabilities, just like there are escalators and elevators for those who can’t climb the stairs.
Credible: Your content should make users rely on everything that you tell them.
Valuable: Whatever you offer through a website or web application should be of some value to users. Remember, customer satisfaction is our prime focus!
Of course, there was a time when every web designing companies focused on only two things: their own perception of the best website for a client and what the client wished to see. The most important group i.e. the users were never taken into consideration. Designers had no clue about user-centered design because the outcome was impressive and clients were happy. But, that never fulfilled the ultimate purpose of designing a website. It was then when importance of User Experience was valued that things took a different turn.