I originally wrote today’s post for GetFeedback. It A modified version of it appeared on their site in late 2020.
User experience and customer experience are cut from the same stone but have clear differences, not the least of which: who and what UX focuses on and how its measured. In this guide, we’ll outline various ways that UX can be measured – both attitudinally and behaviorally – and explain how to take action to improve the metrics.
What is UX? How is it different from UI?
To define user experience (UX), it’s only right to go to the man who popularized the term, Don Norman, to get the original definition: “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
But, it doesn’t actually end there. User experience existed before Don’s definition, and many others have defined it a bit differently since. Don tried to be a bit more all-encompassing, while others have narrowed the focus. For example, User Experience Network defines it as: “The quality of the experience a person has when interacting with a specific design.” My interpretation of that is “the perceptions of the interactions with a product or user interface.”
The User Experience Professionals Association International defines it as: “an approach to product development that incorporates direct user feedback throughout the development cycle (human-centered design) in order to reduce costs and create products and tools that meet user needs and have a high level of usability (are easy to use).” I love that they acknowledge that there are a lot of definitions of user experience, and I have to add that they are as varied as you can imagine.
User interface, or UI, is quite simply where those interactions happen, whether it’s via a website or an app (to which it typically refers) or a toy or some other product. It’s often referencing the visual design and layout.
Why is UX important?
A study in the Oxford Journal Interacting With Computers states:
“The goal of UX design in business is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
When the user experience is properly designed, users are researched and understood; user problems will be addressed and solved; their needs will be fulfilled; they’ll be more satisfied and more likely to buy because the experience was simple (conversion rates increase); and the brand will save money because the experience was designed right from the beginning, resulting in issue avoidance and failures down the line.
How does UX connect to DX/CX?
Let’s look at three definitions side by side to answer the question of the differences and relationships between user experience, digital experience, and customer experience.
So, we know that user experience is the sum of all the interactions a user has with a specific design, i.e., a website, app, product.
Digital experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization via digital touchpoints, e.g., website, apps, mobile, social media, etc. over the life of the “relationship” with that company, and more importantly, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions.
And customer experience (CX) is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the “relationship” with that company, and more importantly, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions.
Here’s the connection: customer experience is the umbrella discipline, and user experience and digital experience are subsets. Despite Don’s definition, user experience focuses on user interactions with a product, whereas customer experience focuses on the customer (and the overall relationship), who might or might not be the end user.
CX strategies focus more holistically on the organization (in addition to the customer and her needs, pain points, and problems to solve) as a means to an end. Let me explain. In order to successfully transform the customer experience, you must have all of the right foundational elements in place: executive commitment, leadership alignment, a customer-centric culture, governance, a great employee experience, and so much more.
Customer experience zeroes in on emotions, feelings, and perceptions – a big part of what an “experience” is or elicits. (Not that user experience or digital experience don’t focus on this, but many user experience definitions don’t mention anything about feelings, emotions, or perceptions. Perhaps, for some, it is implied in “utility, ease of use, and pleasure.”) User experience often focuses on usability (of the product), and it often focuses on a specific channel (e.g., app, website), whereas customer experience looks across all channels, all interactions, all ways in which the customer touches the brand.
Digital experience focuses on the interactions at digital touchpoints, and I would add that the user experience overlaps with the digital experience.
It’s confusing, so I’m proposing this diagram to help clarify.
Steve Jobs said, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” The only way to understand how it should work and how it does work is to consider the user, her needs, and the problems to solve.
This speaks volumes. UX design is focused on how the product or the website works for the user, while CX design focuses on the end-t0-end experience (transactions, journeys, relationships).
Who designs the user experience?
This is a great question, and I would argue that the UX team is as diverse in skills and backgrounds as the CX team is. So the easiest thing to do is to start with skills required to design the experience: qualitative and quantitative user research, analytics, information architecture, design thinking, prototyping, visual design, content/writing, strategy, product/concept testing, usability testing, and facilitation, to name just a few.
Who designs the UX? A UX designer or a team of designers; it may take a team, especially given the variety of skills and backgrounds required to do this work and to do it well.
Note that a couple skills mentioned above – qualitative and quantitative research, product/concept testing, and usability testing – all lead to a better product or user experience design. And we now know that the benefits of UX design, as noted previously, include: “utility, ease of use, and pleasure” for the user. So let’s shift gears to talk about how those skills are used and how those benefits are measured.
Let’s dive into UX metrics.
UX metrics: what are they?
Just as you would expect, UX metrics are used to measure, compare, and track the quality of the user experience over time. They are also used to measure the effectiveness – outcomes and success – of the UX design strategy. The metrics are as varied as you might expect, and we’ll dive into those shortly.
It’s really important to note that – when you’re identifying the metrics you want to use to measure and track the user experience – the metrics you select are user-focused, not business-focused. We’re talking about tracking the user’s experience metrics, not what it means for the business. Yes, that’s important, as well, but UX metrics are not business metrics. (They must be linked, but they are not one and the same.)
Here’s an example. A user-focused metric is “task success rate;” the business-focused version of that might be “conversion rate.” That’s not user-friendly language; that’s marketing language. Put the user and his success at the forefront; that’s what the user experience is all about! More details coming up in a bit about linking the two.
Let’s dive into the metrics. To view the different types of metrics, the best behavioral and attitudinal metrics, how to collect them and act on them, who collects them, how to make sure you select the right metrics, and so much more, check out the original post on GetFeedback’s site.
There’s a big difference between making a simple product and making a product simple. ~Des Traynor, Co-Founder, Intercom
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2021, she wrote the manuscript for her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business, which will be available in early 2022! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.