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21 May 2019 / Mike Fieldhouse

User Experience (UX) – it’s just stating the bl**din’ obvious isn’t it?

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a UX meeting with a highly paid expert who spent four hours revealing the secrets of UX. And I’m going to share them with you – free of charge…

  1. B2C lead-generation websites should have a prominent phone number and an open form on the top right-hand side of each page.
  2. Professional services sites should focus on getting prospects to individual fee earner profiles.
  3. If you have an eCommerce site, copy Amazon.

Well that’s easy enough – job done. But there is an inconvenient truth sitting behind all this. If we’re honest, either you (or your agency) probably has a pretty good idea of the UX you need on your website. And while it’s very comfortable to have the workshops, research and expert advice to back up your decisions, there is another, and quite possibly a better, way to approach this. Let your real-life users define your UX.

Download our guide to working with UX Professionals

Using actual users to deliver better UX

So, what does this look like? You need to start with a vision of how your website will work and what you want it to achieve – what outcomes or calls to action. Then we recommend taking a view or estimate of how the UX of your website will work to achieve these goals; make this clear to your designers who will design, build and launch the website.

Now comes the important bit. From day one start tracking how real users engage with the website and start making small updates and changes to adapt to how real people work with your website. You can track simply using Google Analytics but for the full picture we recommend also using heat mapping tools.

Hotjar Heatmap

And live user recordings – screen videos of actual users navigating you website. Like this…

Once the data is available, you can use it to continually refine the website by changing layouts, forms and fields or entire user journeys based on how real users are actually engaging with your site. This is how major eCommerce sites work so why isn’t everyone doing this?

We can’t take the website live until it’s finished

Anecdotes from various marketing contacts suggest that the main block to this more active approach is senior level internal resistance; ‘we can’t go live with something that isn’t finished’. I would argue that if you’ve got to the point where you’re developing a new website rather than refining what you have then any new website will be an improvement. The fact that you can then improve that website over time is just how websites work! Although it’s sometimes difficult to establish this idea.

Interestingly, the key case studies we have gained for this approach are for lower profile microsites where there was less ‘non-marketing’ involvement in decision making.

So is UX research just a waste of time?

I’m not going to damn an entire industry based on one dodgy workshop. In fact, good UX professionals will be advising continual improvement based on data for any website. We even have a handy guide on how to get more out of working with User Experience folk (internal or external) which you can download here.

My key point is that as long as you have a vision for what you want from your website, it should be straightforward to get to Version 1. Then the best way to research how you want the site to work is to look at how real visitors are using it.

Of course, this will involve changing the way your web development works. Instead of one fixed budget and timeline for a project, you will need to hold budget back to measure the results and then to refine and update the site.

So what should you do about UX?

If you have an existing website and you’re not monitoring and measuring how your existing visitors use your website, then you should start doing this now. You are missing a massive trick. If you’re planning a new website, be clear about your goal for the site, assess whatever existing data you have, make your best guess on the UX (maybe use shorter sharper, more focused workshops to gain buy in) and then launch, measure and refine; repeat ad nauseam.

Want to know more, then please download the guide or get in contact and let me know your thoughts.

Download our guide to working with UX Professionals

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