UX stands for “user experience,” and every business, organization, and firm with digital properties should make it a top priority. Not only can it improve your SEO profile, but when done properly, UX can bolster a company’s bottom line.

What Is UX?

“Design is not just what [something] looks like and feels like,” Steve Jobs once said, “design is how it works.”

His sentiments sum up the UX philosophy. Designers and developers who apply the concept take a holistic approach that weighs aesthetics and functionality equally. They identify every possible step users will take upon landing on a website or opening an app and design the process intuitively.

Five Ways UX Can Save and Make You Money

UX isn’t only polite — it’s profitable.

Brands, firms, and businesses that invest in UX considerations are rewarded with better conversion rates, retention rates, word-of-mouth referrals, and search rankings. Plus, good UX has been shown to reduce support and repair costs.

1. Increase Conversions

Humans are predisposed to the path of least resistance. As such, we appreciate digital properties that are easy to navigate. In fact, people are more likely to follow through with a transaction if a website appears trustworthy and is a snap to use — and many will bookmark a “good” website for future reference. All of these things lead to more conversions.

Common UX conversion tips include:

  • Streamlining the checkout process
  • Limiting the amount of information users must type during the e-commerce checkout process
  • Creating clear call to action buttons; for example, instead of “click here” using “sign up for our mailing list today”

2. Increase Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is a vital retention metric, and quality UX goes a long way in cultivating it. When things work correctly and smoothly, it builds trust. Enjoyable, seamless interactions activate customers.

To ensure maximum retention, big brands use customer journey maps (CJMs) to track and reproduce every iteration of the user experience on their digital properties, from start to finish. They then analyze that data in search of potential improvements.

Common UX brand loyalty tips include:

  • Remembering returning users — but not in a creepy way that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Offering discounts to returning customers
  • Personalizing options and making suggestions based on past activity

3. Increase Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Since it’s human nature to learn behavior from our peers, word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to secure new clients. In our digital age, that means shouting out businesses via social media and blog posts.

Getting people to rave about your brand is no small feat. However, if you provide a useful product and engineer a delightful experience, people are more likely to write good reviews, which translates into more sales.

Common UX word-of-mouth tips include:

  • Making social sharing easy on your platforms
  • Building seamless connections with social networks to encourage mentions
  • Testing checkout systems to ensure a glitch-free experience

4. Helps SEO

Search engine optimization has come a long way. Today’s sophisticated algorithms can detect everything from poor grammar to technical problems. Plus, they’re programmed to reward platforms with good UX and punish ones that neglect the user experience. After all, search engines want to provide the best results for their customers, so ranking a website that breaks on mobile screens, is a pain to navigate, or takes forever to load flies in the face of their business objectives. Google even provides “landing page experience” scores so webmasters know what to improve on the UX front.

Common UX SEO tips include:

  • Using responsive websites that look good on all screen sizes
  • Applying clear, site-wide navigation
  • Eliminating color contrast issues
  • Using readable fonts at a reasonable size

5. Reduce Future Costs

When businesses consider UX issues from the beginning, they save money because fixing usability problems is more expensive than preventing them in the development stage. These days, most mid-size and large-size companies go through a prototyping stage in which they create a mockup version of a website or app and then test, test, test! By the time the real property goes live, it’s been through the wringer, and all usability issues have been ironed out.

Common UX future cost reduction tips include:

  • Prioritizing usability issues when developing new digital properties
  • Hiring designers, developers, and online marketers with UX experience
  • Ensuring that all digital properties seamlessly and safely integrate with both back-end and customer-facing systems; doing so reduces the number of manual corrections and potential data breaches

The Five Elements of Good UX Design

1. Accessibility

Over 90% of North Americans use the Internet regularly — and of that 90%, approximately 10% live with a hearing or vision disability. Ensuring that deaf and blind people can also use your digital properties should be a top UX priority. In some instances, it’s the law.

2. Usefulness

Sometimes, people ignore the most obvious things. For example, usefulness is often overlooked when it comes to UX digital design.

When developing websites and apps, constantly ask yourself what the target demographic will find helpful about it. Does your e-commerce store support shoppers and make them feel comfortable? Is it secure? Is there a way for buyers to easily leave feedback or ask for help? If your website promotes a service, have you anticipated potential clients’ questions and answered them? Do you offer advice they’d find genuinely helpful?

In the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Alec Baldwin’s character implores his sales charges to “always be closing.” Similarly, people developing websites should “always be considering usefulness.”

3. Learnable

We’re well into the 21st century, and most people are device literate. As such, folks bank on things working a certain way — and your digital properties should hew closely to their expectations. We’re not advocating for creative conformity but instead functional harmony. In other words, figuring out how to use a website or app shouldn’t be difficult; it should be intuitive.

4. Memorable

Steep learning curves are for rocket scientists, not everyday Internet users. Once individuals interact with your digital properties, they shouldn’t have to relearn something every time they return.

5. Efficient

There are few things more frustrating than websites that don’t work properly. Error messages are a bane of modern-day existence! To ensure your properties are operating optimally, test, test, and test some more. To use our “Glengarry Glen Ross” motto: “always be testing!”

Also, encourage feedback from customers. Businesses do better when they listen to their clients’ wants and needs and implement solutions that enhance the user experience.

Three Examples of Bad UX Design

We’ve talked about how UX can benefit a business’s bottom line and discussed the essential elements of good UX design. Now it’s time to switch directions and examine some UX failures. After all, making and observing mistakes is a great way to learn.

Long Dropdowns

Have you ever visited a website, encountered an unwieldy dropdown menu, and then decided to press the back button instead of dealing with it? It’s a common occurrence — because long dropdowns are annoying, especially on phones. They’re also time-consuming, and we humans grow impatient within a blink of an eye — literally.

When designing form interfaces, ask yourself if an auto-complete text box would work better. If not, avoid dropdowns with more than 10 options.

The Netflix Hover Play

It first appeared in 2015, and despite the public’s outcry, Netflix has adamantly refused to change one of the worst UX features of the 21st century: hover play!
We, the people, have found safe harbor in Netflix’s margins — and use them to navigate the site silently. But no matter how careful we are, the cursor eventually crosses a thumbnail line, and BAM, a loud trailer rings out!

And forget about clicking the “details” button while trying to maintain a state of serenity. It’s impossible to do without triggering the hover play.
So what’s the takeaway? Never implement UX features that hinder peaceful navigation. Even the notoriously problematic Facebook knows to set videos to mute by default!

Ryanair’s Booking Platform

Ryanair is like the Dollar General of airlines. But the latter has a leg-up on the former: the General doesn’t trick you into paying more.

The budget airline’s booking platform is notoriously shady, and developers jokingly refer to it as “dark UX” because it’s designed to nickel and dime unsuspecting travelers. They bury opt-out choices and manipulate people into spending more money on unnecessary add-ons. For example, the “don’t insure me” option is hidden away in a dropdown of countries!

When designing platforms, don’t be like Ryanair. Instead, strive to be transparent with users.

User experience is of paramount importance. Employing sensible design elements that enhance digital interactions pays dividends.