The beautiful websites that you can find on our projects page all started with our UX team, the brains behind the optimum user journey.
Working behind the scenes, many people aren’t aware what an integral part of the design process they are, so we sat down with Emily Street, our UX Manager to find out everything you need to know about UX.
What is UX all about?
UX (User Experience) refers to the whole of the customer journey before, during and after their purchase or interaction with a system such as a website or mobile app. It explores all of the elements that may influence the user’s experience such as the perception of the brand, marketing collateral, the usability and accessibility of the interactive system and even the packaging the product arrives in.
Why is UX so important when designing and developing a website?
Is there anything more annoying than trying to browse a website that just won’t work how you expect it to?
UX is a fundamental part of our website development process at Focus. There is no point in us just designing and building a website based solely on what our client likes/wants to see. The key to a successful website is ensuring it meets the customer/user’s needs.
At the start of every website project, we undertake a range of research activities such as discovery sessions, surveys, focus groups, usability testing etc to identify what these user needs are. By doing this we can gather the relevant information to ensure we map out the key user journeys and the information architecture (site map). All the relevant page templates identified in the information architecture stage are then created as wireframes which provide all the elements in a basic form and identifies the key functionalities of the page. These wireframes then guide the design team in creating the visual design of the new website.
All of the website designs and subsequent development are checked by our UX team to ensure we are creating a site that caters to the needs of the identified users and we are providing them with the best possible user experience.
Does UX only apply to new websites?
Not at all. UX applies to all interactive systems from existing websites, your smartphone and the apps within it to your Sky box and the remote you use to choose your programmes.
We also offer UX audits and reviews of existing websites and provide recommended changes that can be made to help improve the UX of a website and in turn increase the potential for conversion.
What got you interested in UX?
I have had very generalised marketing roles in the past, but I have always had a passion for websites, evaluating their performance and looking at ways to improve them for users.
What’s dark UX? Do you think it is good practice?
Dark UX refers to the sneaky little UX patterns that some companies add to their systems to deliberately trick the user into taking an action they either don’t want to, or don’t realise they are doing.
The UXUK Awards even have a ‘Dark UX’ award now, in which anyone can submit a nomination via their website and the winner will be chosen at the event by all the attendees voting on the night. Obviously winning the award is not something to be proud of, but it’s great to see that these practices are being called out in the industry.
If you’ve found something worthy of the dark UX away you can submit it here: https://www.uxukawards.com/best-dark-ux/
What’s been your proudest moment since joining the #FocusFamily?
I think it has to be completing my CPUX-F certification, which is an internationally recognised qualification for user experience and usability awarded from the UXQB (International Usability and UX Qualification Board).
Three things to avoid when designing a website – what would they be?
- Hamburger menus on a desktop
Although popular in design due to the minimalism of the element, you are forcing the user to take an additional action before they can continue browsing the site.
- Linking off the site in the same tab
Linking off to other sites is a great way to help improve the SEO, but be careful not to take users off your site and give them no way back. Always ensure external links open in a new tab so that the user can continue browsing your website easily.
- Expecting the user to know where they need to go next
Believe it or not, your users don’t know your company or your website as well as you do. Therefore, they need signposts, clear calls to action and an easy navigation to help them browse effectively.
What’s your biggest bugbear when auditing a website?
Broken links and buttons. These don’t only affect the user experience, but they also place a barrier within the user’s journey and reduce the conversion rate.