The 1 UX Mistake We Nearly All Make
July 4, 2017
UX experts can’t seem to agree. They argue about the details they feel are most important to the user experience. Becoming the user is most important. No you’re wrong. Usability is what matters most! Over and over they argue about the details they feel are most important.
Their ‘expert’ opinion doesn’t matter.
As designers, we already know what’s best. We know how things should be done, right? We already have a UX process we follow.
That’s the problem…
The vast majority of UX designers ignore a few important criteria. This doesn’t mean we’re incompetent or that we don’t know what we’re doing (we do). It means we’re more likely to leak users (customers).
It’s difficult to plug the holes we aren’t aware of. Our ignorance creates a cycle of failure.
What are we missing?
- Ideal users
- The right group of users
- The right UX/UI elements
- A user compatible UX
How does this affect the UX? Let’s dig in to find out:
Most organizations focus on numbers. They’re needy, willing to accept any user or customer that’s willing to do what they want. This is a terrible idea because all users aren’t created equal.
You need ideal users. These are your ideal users, the kind you’d do (almost) anything to keep. Focusing your time and attention on these users creates dramatic growth.
all users aren’t created equal
What specifically makes these users so special?
- They’re active and engaged. These users are vocal. They know your product, they’re familiar with your designs and they know how things work.
- They’re willing and able to do what you want. They’ll buy your products and identify the hiccups in your checkout process. They’ll actually use your tools to import their photos, and they’ll tell you when it doesn’t work.
- They tell you who they are. Their behaviors and habits set them apart from your other users. You’re able to find them using a variety of methods – email, surveys, social media, analytics data. They stand out because they’re not like your other users.
- Designing around them creates growth. Focusing your attention on these users gives you more of the things you want whether that’s traffic, revenue or attention. User centric design that’s focused around these customers.
Amazon optimizes the UX around ideal users (customers). Amazon’s UX is tailored around one thing in particular: Amazon Prime.
Originally, Amazon Prime meant free two-day shipping. Then Amazon decided to add Prime video. Then Prime music, followed by Prime books. Spend some time on their site and you’ll notice they craft their offerings around Prime. Why? Because Amazon Prime members spent 2 1/2 times as much as non-prime customers. 51 percent of Prime customers spend $800 a year or more on Amazon compared to only 16 percent of non-prime customers. Good UX has boosted Amazon’s business by more than 50 percent!
How do they use UX to uncover ideal users?
- Shopping is simple and easy. Amazon’s patented one click shopping buttons make it easy for customers to do what they want to do. Buy.
- Give customers what they want. Amazon gave users the Amazon Assistant making it easy for customers to buy products from any site
- Look out for the user. You’ve probably seen the frequently bought together and customers who bought this item also bought categories on their product pages. What makes Amazon’s so special? It’s relevant to you the user.
The bad news?
Most designers aren’t doing this. They’re focusing on their users as a whole. They treat users as equals which, as we’ve seen from Amazon, is a serious mistake. When you’re missing ideal users you focus your time attention on details that don’t matter.
The Right Personas
Personas can be helpful if they’re selected carefully; which is exactly what most businesses are doing, right? Actually, No.
Most of the time, designers rely on the wrong personas. They focus their attention on the users they have. Wait a minute, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a UX designer? What exactly do you focus your attention on if you’re not focused on the users you have?!
Successful UX designers focus on the users they want.
Successful UX designers focus on the users they want. Your target audience, user personas, feedback, surveys and user testing should help you accomplish one thing: Get the users you want. Successful UX designers aren’t focused exclusively on what their users say. They create comprehensive user personas using a variety of sources:
- user testing;
- customer experience analytics;
- usability testing;
- cohort analysis;
- data mining.
Surveys, are incredibly helpful. They give you answers to the questions you know to ask. Analysis uses behavior and outcomes to answer questions you didn’t know to ask. Analysis tools make the unknown unknowns, known. Analysis tools show you what a customer does, which is arguably more important than what they say. How do we know?
Facebook used UX data to create and launch two new products. The newsfeed and mini feed. User response was overwhelmingly negative. The backlash was swift as 284,000 users joined protest groups within one day.
What did Facebook do? Nothing.
Why didn’t Facebook do anything? Because their data told them a different story. Users were spending far more time on Facebook. Contrary to user objections the newsfeed was a hit. Mark Zuckerberg responded personally to user fears and objections.
Facebook used their data to develop user personas. These personas were built on a variety of factors but they relied primarily on user behavior and outcomes.
When things got tough, their persona data gave them the confidence they needed to stick to their guns. They knew their users and they understood what they really wanted.
Optimizing UX for the Right Users
Most organizations don’t focus their time and attention on UX optimization. Those that do, focus on the wrong users. They focus again, on the users they have rather than the users they want. It’s a fatal mistake. Left unchecked, organizations, tweak and “optimize” their designs with the wrong goals. They focus on the wrong users.
It can’t be that bad, can it?
It’s terrible because it slowly takes your attention aware from your core users, the people who matter most. Every tweak, every edit moves you further away from your core users and closer towards failure. It’s a silent, but deadly process that ruins businesses slowly.
How do we know? Digg.
In their heyday, Digg was popular with tech professionals. Developers, designers, IT professionals, and techies relied on Digg. Digg had a huge cult following. For a time things were good.
Then came their redesign. In 2010, Digg designed to do a complete website redesign. Digg founders were under pressure. Investors wanted Digg to go “mainstream” to become the next big thing. So they pressured the team to make changes. Digg redesigned their website and voting system so users had less influence. Their users weren’t happy. The redesign was beautiful, but it was unpopular. Users felt it was unfamiliar, clumsy, difficult to use. It wasn’t the same Digg they had come to know and love.
Their website traffic plummeted. Digg lost a third of their traffic overnight. They experienced a mass exodus of traffic as their core users abandoned them. Digg never recovered.
It’s a common mistake many businesses make. They focus on optimizing the UX but they fail to realize the truth. These “UX improvements” actually make the UX worse. They continue to make changes until it’s too late. They attribute the loss of traffic and users to something, anything else. It’s a new competitor, advertising has gotten more expensive, we need something new, etc.
But savvy designers know the truth. When the UX is poor, your users leave, never to return.
Maybe “Fatal Mistake” is Too Strong a Phrase
Am I overstating things? A bad UX can’t be that bad, can it? Actually it can.
The data is pretty clear. A bad UX is bad for everyone:
- if 100 online consumers have a bad experience 88 of them won’t come back;
- 79 percent of users will search for another site to complete their task;
- 61 percent of users that don’t find what they’re looking for quickly move on to another site;
- 60 percent of users who don’t buy cite dissatisfaction, not enough information, slow connection or a small screen;
- 90 percent of users reported they stopped using an app due to poor performance;
- 86 percent deleted or uninstalled at least one app because of performance problems.
As a designer, you already know good UX design is important. But good UX depends on your users.
UX Needs to be Optimized
UX experts can’t seem to agree. They argue about the details they feel are most important to the user experience. The good news is they don’t have to agree. Their expert opinion doesn’t matter because it’s all about the user. Great UX design focuses on the users you want, not the users you have.
Great UX design focuses on the users you want, not the users you have
Optimize the UX for your ideal users and suddenly your design creates growth.
Focus your attention on the right users and you’ll have everything you need to create an amazing design, no arguments necessary.