At its core, user experience (UX) design is about what makes people tick. Why does a site visitor prefer one design over another — and how do you keep people engaged so they don’t bounce away? Those who’ve taken psychology courses or have a basic understanding of human behavior will adapt more easily to the principles of user-centric concepts.
In a recent survey, users ranked Amazon.com as the site with the most appealing usability. The 2019 study found that Baby Boomers ranked Amazon as number one, and Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers as number two, for usability. Many elements work together in creating this appeal. We’ll dig into them a bit more below as we look at how psychology and design come together to reach consumers.
UX versus UI (What’s the Difference?)
UX stands for user experience. UX is the whole experience the person has from the first minute they encounter your brand until they leave your website (and beyond, if they’ve placed an order). Excellent UX involves many factors such as the site’s hierarchy, the look of the site, calls to action (CTAs) and content. Amazon, for example, has a large database of products, but only a limited number of main categories.
UI stands for user interface. UI is the actual design of the page that the user sees and interacts with. When the user clicks a button, they expect the button to do whatever the CTA text states. So, if they click a button that says, “Sign Up for Free News,” they expect to be taken to a form to sign up for a newsletter. The UI should be intuitive and easy to navigate. If you make things too complex, people will just bounce away.
UX and Technology
People want conversational interfaces that are easy to understand and make their lives easier. You’ve likely noticed more and more sites using chatbots and other features that enable users to converse directly with a live agent and solve issues. Amazon offers reviews and question features that allow users to get more information on a product. While not exactly a chatbot, it does answer common concerns with little friction.
Recent advances in machine learning have led to the ability of computers to anticipate the needs of the user. One example might be a reminder that pops up when you visit your cell phone carrier’s site letting you know your bill is due. However, designs now go a step further and offer an immediate option to click a button and “Pay Now,” so you don’t forget again with your busy life.
Impact on Site Designs
Usability impacts site designs on so many levels that it would be impossible to cover them all in the span of a single article. However, some of the areas most impacted by UX include mobile-first designs. UX designers realize more and more people access the internet via their smartphones. According to the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), around 75% of the world will access the internet solely via their mobile devices by 2025. A mobile-first design makes sense for most businesses.
UX has also had a big impact on consistency in web design. People tend to orient themselves from the moment they land on a page. Leaving navigation the same throughout the site and following typical patterns, such as a home tab on the far left and a contact button on the far right, breeds familiarity and allows users to orient themselves rapidly and get to business.
CX Ties Into Usability
Customer experience (CX) is separate from UX, but they still work together intricately. You can’t have a good customer experience if your user experience is lousy, and a poor CX can ruin your efforts at good UX. Customer experience encompasses the interactions you have with your customers. So, if they place an order and receive a nice note that their product is on the way, that improves their opinion of your company.
CX taps into everything from customer service to how well the person likes the item they ordered. UX focuses on convincing the customer they need the product and giving them an easy process to place the order.
Buyer Personas and Understanding Audience
The psychology of the users who visit one website might be vastly different than the users of a different site. To fully understand the people who visit your site and serve their needs, you must create buyer personas. You may need more than one persona, too.
When creating your buyer persona, look not only at their behaviors but also what they are likely thinking. You can base this information on patterns, by polling customers, or with basic psychology. For example, if your site sells burglar alarms to homeowners, you can assume your customers are worried about their family’s safety. You can then tap into the things that might make them feel safe and still their fears. Solve their problems.
What Behaviors Tell You
A good rule of thumb in UX design is not to pay attention to what people tell you they’ll do, but instead to watch their actions. Tools such as heatmaps indicate the areas of your site users spend the most time on. You can also track conversion rates to see how well different features work for your audience. People don’t always understand the psychology behind what they do, so it’s up to you to study them and figure out some truths that apply to most of your site visitors.
Nielson Norman Group points to the biggest mistake UX designers make, which is gathering input from users. While not exactly a mistake, it can’t be the only indication toward how you should design your site, or you’ll fail miserably. Factor in all the data and then come up with a design that meets the needs users didn’t even realize they had.
Dig Into Neuroscience
Understanding neuroscience and the way the human brain processes everything from images to text helps you create something that captures the interest of your target audience. Study psychology on the side, stick to sound design principles, and test the platforms yourself to make sure they work the way you’d like. Over time, your site’s UX will become one of the best around and might even rival Amazon and other big players.
Lexie is a web designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her days surrounded by some HTML and a goldendoodle at her feet. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow Lexie on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.