This blog was written by Jessica Quinn, Digital Marketing Executive at Elevate Communication. Jess works within the Marketing pillar and is passionate about providing straightforward and logical user experience solutions for clients.
Everything you do online, whether consciously or not, has been analysed and considered by a UX specialist. This means every button we click on a website and the steps we take on social media platforms have been designed and tested with the convenience of the target user in mind. Your pathway through processes when you are online is called user experience (UX). UX is important for companies to consider to reach their target audience effectively.
The same can be said for the principles of digital marketing. With each piece of digital marketing content, there is an underlying end user experience that leads to the brand’s end goal, whether that be a purchase on a website, a form submission, or driving users from one platform to your website.
What is UX design?
UX design has two parts to consider. Predominantly, it is about identifying and solving a problem for end users, but it is also about what it feels like to use your product, system, or service—the journey you take to get to the call to action, and the ease and appeal of that journey.
Effective UX design takes into consideration a handful of design principles. By using these principles, you are ensuring that your design and process is of a high standard and is usable and streamlined for your users. If you disregard these principles, your users are sure to notice.
- Your interface is user-centric. This means that the needs of the user are put first and these needs have been informed by user research, not by making assumptions on user behaviour.
- Your interface is consistent. Consistency, in terms of look and functionality across your interface, is also important for user expectations – your interface needs to be aligned with how users expect your interface to function.
- Your interface is perceivable. This means users should be able to figure out what your interface is and how they are supposed navigate it just by looking at it. This shapes how the user navigates your interface and allows them to judge how easy or complicated the process is.
- Your interface is predictable. Users need to know what they are going to be doing on your interface before they invest their time. If you are promoting a product and driving users through to your website, your users need to know that they are going to be able to purchase the product on your website.
- Your interface has digital affordances. Affordances are universal visual clues that tells us how an interface should be interacted with – such as including a call-to-action button that actually looks like a button and not like any other piece of text on the interface.
- Your interface follows conventions. Conventions are established ways of completing a task. This comes down to learnability – if there is already an established method of doing something, do not ask your users to learn a new way to do it – they likely will not want to.
- Your interface is usable. Usability consists of five components:
- Learnability: is it easy for your users to use your interface?
- Efficiency: does your interface provide a streamlined approach for users to complete their desired tasks?
- Memorability: is it easy to re-familiarise yourself with the interface after not using it for a period of time?
- Errors: can users easily recover from making a mistake on your interface?
- Satisfaction: is your interface enjoyable to use? Are users having a positive user experience or a frustrating one?
Why is it important?
It is important to consider how users feel when they are using your interface. You want to ensure they are feeling positive emotions (trust in the brand; brand confidence) instead of negative ones (frustration at the process; not finding out what you need).
It’s highly frustrating when you click to order a product and you are taken back to a completely unrelated page, or if you are constantly clicking on what seems to be a never-ending number of buttons to get to the end point. Having a streamlined and effective user experience that follows design principles allows us to ensure that users are experiencing positive emotions and not negative ones.
A key consideration for UX design
A crucial factor in UX design is to ensure the design decisions you make are based on user research and not solely on your own assumptions. UX design is a research-based discipline. User research allows you to truly empathise and be in the end-user’s position where you can truly understand what they expect from your interface. There are many methods of user research with the most common being surveys, interviews, and usability tests.
By making your own design assumptions as someone who has insider knowledge of your interface, you are taking away the realistic experience of the end user and the actual process of what an outsider will experience when they first land on your interface. This is a common mistake made when designing interfaces. By neglecting user research, the final result is typically a poor user experience. However, by gathering user research and putting yourself in the shoes of an end-user, you are committing to understanding their behaviours and expectations and will develop an interface that is intuitive and meets user expectations, making it a positive user experience.
How does digital marketing and UX design integrate?
In digital marketing, our main goal is to enable brands to connect with their target audiences through online and other forms of digital communication methods to achieve specific goals. In more transparent terms, marketing is a great way to attract users, and user experience works to encourage and retain users to continue coming back. Interestingly, 74% of businesses agree that user experience is vital for boosting sales1. This is where marketing and UX design begin to integrate.
Today, a vast majority of consumers discover brands online during their several hours—2 hours and 24 minutes2 to be exact, a day spent on social media platforms. During this time, consumers are exposed to multiple targeted advertisements often linking through to a website. I believe that a website is one of a brand’s most important sales tools. However, user experience goes beyond your website. In fact, user experience for your brand begins when you develop your marketing strategy. Your brand’s user experience has relevance in your campaigns, and is a continuous process well beyond achieving your conversions. Both marketing and UX design have the same underlying goal—to make a product as desirable as possible for the target audience. With this in mind, marketing and UX design both draw upon the concept of understanding and analysing user behaviours to understand who their target audience is, and what types of content and processes the target audience responds to best. By identifying this during your strategy and consistently adapting your targeting and content models based on the results coming through your online advertisements, you are setting up a user experience that is best suited for your target audience.
The set-up of your targeted advertising campaigns is crucial to how the user (your target audience) experiences your brand. With the overarching goal of achieving a high conversion rate, the experience for your target audience begins when your ad is on their screen. Visually, your ad campaign needs to have iterative design – meaning the design of your ad is continuously improving. This may be through multiple variations of an ad to avoid creative fatigue. Contextually, your ad campaign must be aligned with your target audience while communicating the core values of your brand that users can emotionally connect with. Once you’ve achieved a click through to your website, your website experience needs to be seamless. This means ensuring your website encapsulates functional, aesthetic, and experience design.
- Functional design ensures your website is operating correctly and is responsive across multiple devices. 52% of users indicate that bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company3.
- Aesthetic design considers the visual elements of your website and how appealing it is to your target audience. 75% of consumers judge a site’s credibility based on how it looks4.
- Experience design, in this instance, considers how it feels to navigate your website and how simple it is to achieve the intended goal. 94% of users say that easy navigation is the most crucial part of their experience on both mobile and desktop5.
User experience is a continuous process. After having a positive user experience and achieving the conversion goal, a user is more likely to return to your website or your brand assets. This indicates that regularly monitoring and adapting to the behaviours of your target audience and maintaining a simplistic and flawless user experience is a key element to achieving your brand goals.
If you would like to discuss how to elevate your brand through integrated UX design services and digital marketing, get in touch with Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org today.