UI/UX Design

Why User Experience needs to go beyond the interface

Nathan Allsopp
December 29, 2017

Ask startups/small businesses what they think User Experience means and you might find many answers focused on Design.

Interfaces. Colours. Navigation. You get the idea.

And they’re right — in the context of a software product, design and UX go hand-in-hand. Products need to have interfaces that are easy to use, and design decisions influence the creation of that interface.

What many fail to keep in mind is that there are plenty of factors beyond the interface that influence UX. Crafting the perfect product means more than just a great visual experience.

It means stepping outside of Sketch and making sure every part of your startup contributes to a kick-ass experience

Here’s why.

1 — The interface is only one part of the picture

UX Designers scrutinise every detail of an interface from the colours to the icons in order to create the best possible experience. However, you can’t manage every single part of an experience by just designing things.

There are other departments and considerations outside of the design realm that have a key impact upon a user’s experience.

Notifications: Whether they’re push, email or SMS, notifications play a key role in the usability of a product. If your notification strategy is purely annoying users, don’t be surprised if your product is perceived to have a poor experience.Customer Support: Support is an important part of every experience.The difference between an unhappy support rep and a happy one can drastically change how a user feels about their experience.Processes: Odd-jobs such as changing one’s payment method or deleting an account are often deliberately difficult to encourage people away from those actions. However, is it really worth leaving a bad taste in the user’s mouth just to try and save a few unsatisfied users or reduce your payment fees?

As a result, designers need to venture outside of Sketch and “grab the bull by the horns” to ensure that processes and departments are making life as easy as possible for users.

2 — The value of the UX team needs to be spread across other teams

Many activities that UX designers undertake are of great value to other functions within the business. Simply placing a few designers in a room and letting them do their own thing isn’t going to yield the best possible results.

A great example is the research undertaken by UX designers. Whether it is user interviews, A/B tests or other forms of analysis, the results produced from UX studies are incredibly value to other business functions.

Marketing can get a better understanding of what is resonating with various groups of usersProduct Managers can come to understand if their products are actually solving user’s problems or notSales can leverage common problems that users identify to refine their pitch decks

3— The external landscape impacts UX expectations

Similar to typical competitive intelligence, in-house UX specialists need to also remain up-to-date with UX changes from their competitors.

A competitor’s design overhaul can grab a lot of publicity and boost the interest around that brand for a period of time. Putting the PR opportunities aside, it can mean the perception of your product’s UX changes. Your previously “ground-breaking” visuals and experience may all of a sudden be perceived to be stale because your competitor has a big new change.

So, the next time you think UX is just the interface — think again.

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