We can become so focused on the insider experience of developing and marketing our great products that we lose sight of how customers experience them. If a customer has a poor interaction or feels frustrated with an interaction, they are unlikely to buy and even less likely to return to our products. Leveraging real customer behavior to improve customer satisfaction is the process called user experience optimization, or UXO.
Know the Basics
Software designers work in terms of step sequences where one click leads to some reaction. One of the fundamental ideas in UXO is the Seven Stages of Action, a theory laid out by Don Norman, director of the Design Lab out of the University of California. In brief, it describes how each of our goals is accomplished through a set of smaller actions. The goal of an online purchase, for example, involves the small steps of locating an appropriate website, navigating input and purchase entries, and concluding the transaction. When we reach the end of any set of actions, we compare our intended goal to the results and evaluate our experience. UXO is about ensuring that delivered results match or exceed customer goals.
Know the Customer
Of course we can design for an imagined customer experience, but this exercise is always limited by our own perspective. Survey tools such as Qualaroo and Usabilla offer a direct means to gather critical answers. An article published by transportation giant Uber, however, describes how designers rode along with app users to enhance their understanding of how customers behave in the real world. Not all companies will need field research, but every company should consider using analytics tools like Mixpanel, Hotjar, or Google Analytics to gather feedback on user behavior. Like Uber, any company can benefit from a focused examination of how customers experience products.
Make the Change
Even when equipped with good data, a development team might disagree on the best solution. Established websites like Netflix.com and Nasa.gov have addressed this worry through A/B testing. During A/B testing, users are directed to one version of a website or a specific alternative, and usage is tracked. Whether you’ve purchased software or hired a team of LT specialists to help you, testing for results will lend confidence to design changes. Optimizely and VWO are examples of tools which leverage real behavior data to measure which link location, phrasing, or graphic draws the most desirable traffic.
UXO is an ongoing process. It is a cycle of research and change that keeps our software relevant as markets and technologies evolve. Companies can invest in tools like those mentioned in this article or they can hire professional teams like CSOFT to bring that important, outside perspective. Whether it is an independent process or a collaborative one, UXO is a process that no company can afford to ignore.
Written by Jacob Horton – Technical Writer at CSOFT International