With technology advancing at such a furious pace, the complexity levels of web applications and websites have also increased. The success of a website depends greatly on user perception. Whether a website is ‘easy’, ‘fun’ and ‘pleasant’ to use, contribute a lot towards its success. In short, the success of a website depends on a lot of whether the user experience is great or not.
User experience basically refers to how a user perceives a system while interacting with it – this system may be a web application, website etc. User experience (or UX) designers attempt to make this interaction as engaging and smooth as possible. While it is true that it is the product that really matters, is it also not true that most people have a tendency to buy products from a friendly and warm salesman whom they enjoy conversing with, as opposed to a salesman who has in his hands a quality product, but is cold and boring as a person?
UX designers attempt to enhance the user experience by paying attention to details like how easy-to-use the system is, whether it is efficient etc. Sub-systems and processes are also evaluated by UX designers. The field of UX is actually quite new when compared to disciplines like Web-based systems. In the earlier days, the user-centred design was understood, but websites were designed based on what was ‘thought’ to be great and what the clients wanted.In short, websites were not being designed for the users, but according to what designers and clients thought was great, and not based on user perception.
As long as the results looked pretty, and satisfied the client, everyone was happy – except the users. Today we see the folly of such an approach. Today we see that the secret of many ‘outstanding’ websites was simply outstanding user experience design.User experience designers carry out many tasks and/or employ different methods to carry out their work. Among these steps/tasks are user surveys, A/B testing, user flows, wireframes etc.
What needs to be understood is that there is no such thing as user experience design that suits and fits every user. As human beings, every user is different – what pleases one user may enrage another. The target should be experienced which are specific – targeting specific types of users. User experience should be designed to match the products, goals etc of a website – one should not try to ‘recreate’ the user experience of another website.
Another feature of user experience design is that its success can’t be measured by simply looking at conversion rates, page views etc. An app can’t be installed that directly records statistics associated with the user experience. Many assume user experience and usability to be the same thing, but that is not the case. While user experience focuses primarily on the perception and ‘feelings’ of the user, usability refers to features that can be measured more easily – like ease of use, whether the system is user friendly and efficient etc. Usability is not user experience, but it is an important component of user experience.