User Experience

by Rob Stam

If you work in the web development world, or have recently gone through a web development project, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the term User Experience, or UX. Much of our social and business interaction happens online today, and there’s no way you can get ahead if you don’t build and design your website or app around the user’s experience.

While the web world has made the term User Experience part of daily vernacular, the concept is as old as the invention of the wheel. Regardless of the field you’re in, User Experience is a critical concept. For example, if you’re in the product development field, you know that dozens of variables—from design to packaging to warranties—can play into the user experience you create.

Hearing the term over and over again during web projects has caused me to consider the concept in other areas of business as well. What is the User Experience that my clients are having with me personally? With our team of people, our processes, our communication, our finished products?

There’s nothing more frustrating when navigating a website than getting lost. We’ve all experienced it: you’re on a page looking for certain information, you go the menu and can’t find anything that seems to take you to the right place. You try something and it opens a new window for something complete unrelated, you click back and start over, and eventually you just give up. Somewhere in the website may have been had exactly what you were looking for, but you just couldn’t find it. The User Experience was flawed.

If I’m being transparent, I know that I’ve had clients in the past who’ve felt a similar way when working with me. They had an expectation about what the result of our relationship would produce, but somewhere along the way it got confusing. They thought I’d be doing something that wasn’t part of my plan, or I had expectations about them that were misguided. Some of them gave up on me, and I can’t blame them. It was my responsibility to create an experience that produced the desired end result.

Have you ever felt that way? As a customer? As a company?

If you haven’t thought about it in a while, take a look at your business from the user’s perspective. Don’t just look at whether or not you can deliver a great end product or service. Ask yourself if you can deliver a great experience from their first interaction with your company, through the entire transaction, and with the end result. Ask your clients how they feel working with you (even if you think they might have negative things to say).

Whether you’re selling a widget on a website or constructing a building, there is an experience your customer has with you. What is it and what can you do to improve it? That experience, in turn, becomes your brand because it’s exactly what they’ll be talking about when someone asks about you and your business.