What is User Experience? Overview and examples

Letizia Zappa
By Letizia Zappa

Great user experience (UX) means better business results. What are the best practices to design a great user experience? In this article, we will walk you through UX best practices by providing you cool examples and guidelines.

website_usability

User experience (UX)

Given the popularity yet confusion surrounding this term, we have decided to walk you through user experience you definitions, best practices and some valuable examples of do’s and dont’s.

The definition of user experience (UX)

User experience (UX) is made of all the interactions a user has with a product or service. It is the personal, internal experience customers go through when using a product’s interface.

Let’s take as an example an e-commerce website. If a customer finds the buying experience to be long, complex and complicated, then her UX will be a bad one. Say instead her purchasing experience is easy and hustle free, then the UX will be considered a good one. This will probably push the customer to choose and purchase the products on those websites where she experienced a good user experience.

While it is still important for a product to function, experience has also become extremely relevant: the better the experience you’re offering, the more likely customers will choose you over your competitors: UX can be a differentiator in a crowded marketplace.

What is user experience design?

UX design is all about creating extremely user-friendly interfaces that can enhance users’ satisfaction and usability.

UX design is entirely based on users’ needs: any UX designer building interfaces should, first of all, shape her work on users’ needs and perceptions: what type of person will visit the website/app? What will they expect? How can I make their experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible?

 

User experience for websites

What about websites? User experience in web design and why it is so important.

Web design plays an important role in user experience. Nowadays a lot of companies interact with clients on their website or app. Sometimes users complete the entire customer journey on websites without even going to a brick and mortar store. All of this shows web design is an important part of user experience. It is then definitely worth spending resources on it.

What are the best practices in website user experience?

Many aspects matter in websites user experience but here is a selection we made with the top 5:

  • Navigation through the site must be fast and logical. Customers don’t have time to wait or to think too much where to click next. Find those broken links and fix them!
  • Update contents frequently. Nothing is worse than finding out outdated info.
  • Mobile optimization is mandatory. The migration from desktop to mobile is going fast and not all websites are keeping up.
  • Use images. All text websites are boring and ineffective.
  • Test. Every now and then you should test your website. Make A/B tests, or use heat maps but make sure you’re keeping the user and her needs at the core.

User experience vs usability

UX is often confused with similar yet different terms e.g. usability. We have decided to finally clear out all these terms, starting from usability.

Usability is the ease of use of an object/interface. While user experience covers the whole interaction between the user and the object/interface. Usability is a subset of UX, as it surely an important part of the user experience, but one of many. User Experience covers also other aspects of the product/interface such as branding, design and function.

User experience vs customer experience

Customer experience represents every step of the journey from when users are looking for information and running price comparison to when they are actually trying the product, it involves all channels and it involves every aspect of a brand.

User experience instead deals with people interacting with a product and the experience they receive from such interaction. UX is then a part of customer experience.

User experience vs user interface (UX and UI)

While UX is the internal experience of customers as they interact with any aspect of a product/service, UI is the sum of all the visual elements of a product/service. UI is all about screens, pages, icons; it of course contributes to making an experience better (or worse) but it is just a part of the whole.

User Experience examples

Some great examples of user experience design: get inspired!

We selected three websites with a remarkably good user experience. These can serve both as a guide and as a source of inspiration.

  • Just Eat features an handy search function. It allows customers to find within seconds all restaurants that can potentially deliver food at their homes. Just Eat filters are also super useful to quickly find the dinner take in you are craving for.

  • Skyscanner is a travel fare aggregator website. It makes it intuitive and simple for users to look for cheapest flights and then buy them.

  • Zalando is another great example. On the famous eCommerce website, the user is guided through a very well designed experience. Any user can get as much info, pictures, and videos about clothes as they need without any difficulty.

Bad user experience examples: learn from other people mistakes!

We think it is also important looking at some websites which provide quite a bad experience to users. You can learn from the worst as much as you can learn from the best!

  • Forbes: although this business magazine offers high-quality content, the user experience on the website is awful. As a matter of fact, the high number of banner ads and pop-ups makes it almost difficult to read a whole article.

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  • Arngren e-commerce website makes it almost impossible for users to look for a product and this, of course, does not make a good user experience.

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  • Pacific Northwest X-Ray Inc. landing page is a mix of colours, fonts and patterns that make it almost impossible for users to read the content.

Examples of products with good user experience…enough with the web already!

We thought to give you also some examples of products with good user experience. This can help you better understand user experience.

  • Revolut is a digital banking alternative. Its user experience is amazing and extremely usable. It allows users to exchange money with others and to change currencies in just a few swipes.

  • Apple’s iPod is an old but gold example of perfect user experience. People would buy the iPod in Apple stores, then they would synchronize it to iTunes and keep uploading new music from there. Both the iPod and iTunes offered a very easy to use design and were very well integrated.

 

A good user experience, as you have seen, is made of many different factors. What matters the most is keeping the customer at the center of the designing process. At the end of the day, it is the customers’ needs and feedback that push products towards improvement and innovation.

How to design your website for a better user experience

User experience elements and the UX design process

User Experience design process is a long process vital for firms. It consists of many different steps:

  • Market research and product development. Obviously, there must a product to market and to sell before thinking of any user experience.
  • Understand targeted users. Understanding their needs and their habits will bring you closer to designing a remarkable experience.
  • Map out a logical journey. Design with care all the different steps users will go through. The smoother and seamless the process the better the experience.
  • User test your product/service. In order to make sure the experience is optimal, it is a very good idea to test it on real potential users.

If you own an e-commerce website, we strongly recommend you also look into Google UX recommendations, which are great guidelines to follow.

How can user experience maps help you

As we have just mentioned, user experience mapping is a great technique to carefully study in depth the steps users go through. By doing this you will be able to spot the needs and pains of the users at different stages and also understand how to better satisfy them.

It can be very helpful to write down user experience maps, as visual aid can bring a new perspective. We recommend using StoriesOnBoard, a useful tool to design users’ maps.

The specific case of first-time users’ experience

When designing a website, you may give for granted some features and your opinion might be biased. If you force yourself to think like a first time user, you will instead be able to build a more satisfying experience. First-time users have three main questions:

  1. Where am I?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Where can I go?

Giving a quick and intuitive solution to these concerns is a good way to start building the user experience.

User experience measurement

How to measure UX: user experience questionnaire sample

It is nowadays possible to follow the steps users take online thanks to web analytics tools, e.g. Google Analytics. By following users behaviour, you can surely draw conclusions regarding their online experiences, but analytics will never give you a complete picture.

User experience questionnaires can instead uncover much more and can give you a concrete idea of what the users think. What’s better than directly asking your users?

Our tool UserReport allows you to quickly enable a survey on your own website. By making very specific questions to your users, you can gather significant data useful to make the experience even better.

A UX survey sample could feature these questions:

  1. How would you rate your overall satisfaction with this website?
  2. Do you think the visual design fits very well the website?
  3. Were you able to find the information you were looking for?
  4. Is the content of the website clear?
  5. Did you experience any difficulties?

These are just examples, you may want to investigate some aspects of your website more than others. E.g. if you have an e-commerce business, you would likely be interested in gathering as much info as possible regarding the purchase stage. If you are a publisher, you would probably collect more data about the quality of your content. In any case, with online surveys you have the chance to get closer to your users and their needs.

How to use user experience persona: some examples and advice

What’s more, UX questionnaires, give you also the opportunity to segment your users and create user experience personas. What does this mean?

When gathering users’ feedback and opinion regarding your website, you also can collect sociodemographic information. You will be able to divide your website visitors into groups by matching sociodemographic data with their opinion regarding UX. Your website probably has a specific target, e.g women between 20 and 35. Clearly, their opinion matter to you more than any other. Thanks to online surveys you will know what your specific target thinks about their user experience.

How to improve user experience the fast way

Once you have gathered data and you know what the users more relevant to you think, now it is time to put words into action.

Analyse data and find common patterns. Try and change small things, then look at feedback again. UX design is a continuous cycle, and it needs to be if you want to differentiate your business and be successful.

Try and test different options and always keep an active survey on your website to check your improvement and progress. Users’ feedback will always bring you meaningful insights.

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