Have you ever used an Apple product? An iMac, iPad, iPod, iPhone, or any other “i” product? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that no matter what product you’re using, you expect to have a seamless experience across all devices. That’s Apple’s user experience (UX) strategy in action. Apple is known for the great and intuitive experience of its products. Because no matter which product they’re launching, they always start with the same premise: putting the user in the centre. That’s one of the main reasons that when an Apple product is out, it’s an instant success.
But let’s start from the beginning.
What is a UX strategy?
A UX strategy is the alignment between UX design and business goals. It’s about ensuring that the designers are on the same page as the business. While UX design is more specific to a feature or a product, a UX strategy is more about looking at the big picture to achieve specific objectives.
Because of that, there isn’t a size fits them all kind of strategy. Companies have different goals, different brands, different products. When you’re talking about a start-up, it may not make sense to have a rigid UX strategy. They just want to launch their product to the world as soon as possible, and in that case, a simple UX design might make more sense. But as that start-up grows, and start to have more products, the consistency between solutions might make the difference in the eyes of the consumer. Again, just look at Apple.
In the competitive digital world, the lack of consistency between products and unshared visions among team members, from designers to developers, can lead to the downfall of any company.
That’s not news. However, at Hi Interactive we often have clients that come to us with UX requests, when the product is already in the final stages and without any UX strategy. Like I said before, there’s no fit them all strategy, but no matter what’s your product, your goals, your users, a UX strategy should never be at the end of the production line. Quite the contrary; it should be part of the creation process right from the beginning.
Why should you think UX first?
Imagine you’ve just built a web app, let’s say the website for a car company. You built it from scratch, focusing on the back-end development to make sure it works flawlessly. Once you’re done, you’ll test it with some users and incorporate their feedback from a UX perspective; I mean, how bad can it be?
The thing is, when you use this kind of approach the chances of getting the usability right first time are low — very low. What happens in this case, is that you need to go back and change, move, and even delete some of your beautiful code. Maybe you have three steps to see the type of cars you have available; maybe you have to scroll the entire website to schedule a test drive. These are the kind of things that a person that is looking to buy a car is trying to find when entering a website for a car company. So these should be visible to the user.
But if at this point, you fail the usability tests, you have two options: 1) leave it as it is and risk losing all your customers because your website is too complex and there are hundreds of other websites like yours out there; 2) you can change what’s wrong which will probably force you to review your code — and waste hours of your time.
That’s why developers and UX designers should work hand-in-hand.
Any UX framework should follow a few steps:
Step 1: Research to understand the needs, motivation, habits, behaviors, moods, and goals of the users. You can get this information through surveys, focus group, interviews, usability tests.
Step 2: Once you know your users, you’re ready to design their journey to understand what a user would do in a particular page, and where would they click to complete a specific action.
Step 3: Create high fidelity prototypes — basically a bunch of images that simulate the real app.
Step 4: Test the use those prototypes with real users to understand what works and what not, and change accordingly.
Now it’s ready to go to the development team.
By defining the UX before-hand, you’re able to cut development time and save human and financial resources.
Why? Because before the development phase, your developers already know exactly how the app should look like, how your users will interact with it, and what are they looking for.
That’s how we built Honda’s new digital platform and customer website. Take a look.
So the risk of changing the code because the users don’t know how to use it is minimum. Plus, you ensure that the app is designed for the users, considering their needs, likes, and habits which helps you increase your customers’ loyalty, the bounce rates, and your digital presence.
Building the UX first strategy
Just like Apple, whenever you start developing a product, you should have the user at the centre. That’s UX 101. It’s about understanding your marketplace by talking directly to your customers and delivering something unique that differentiates you from so many other products like yours while validating that your product works.
If you’re looking to transform your UX strategy, talk to us!