By Ingrid Cruz
Creating an amazing user experience has become a competitive advantage for many successful companies. Airbnb, Uber, and TurboTax are products that owe much of their success to truly understanding their customers and creating an experience that is memorable, delightful, and meaningful.
Small business owners usually don’t have a lavish budget to spend on expensive user experience designers or consultants, but there are a few simple things you can do to avoid some common pitfalls.
Mistake number 1: Not mastering the conversation
What you say on your website and on social media creates the tone and voice of your company. The way you communicate with your current and potential customers through these channels should give them an idea of what kind of company you are and even the personality of your company. Have you ever considered what you might sound like?
TurboTax does an excellent job of using language that resonates with what the customer is feeling and seems natural and conversational.
A good way to find out is to read your own content out loud. Then ask yourself this: If your company were a person, how would you describe this person based on what you just heard? Is this how you want to sound? If not, how might you change your content so you’re projecting the tone and voice your company should have? If your content feels awkward when read out loud, it’s also going to seem awkward and impersonal to your audience when they read it.
When you write your content, it’s tempting to tell your audience all about your business, your story, your philosophy, and everything you’re up to. After all, these are things you’re really passionate about. But keep in mind that a person’s attention span is typically very short, so anything non-essential is potentially distracting them from what you would like them to do, like make a purchase or get in touch with you. So tell them what they need to know and help them accomplish the thing you want them to do.
Mistake number 2: Not understanding your customers
Creating a great user experience is about helping your customers accomplish their goal and making each step really simple. A ‘user journey’ means the steps your customer take when interacting with you while moving towards a goal like a question, a purchase, or the completion of a job or project.
By mapping out what happens throughout the user journey, it becomes easier to understand where you’re currently not creating a good experience or discover aspects about the interactions that you haven’t fully thought out. For example, if you don’t have a good follow-up process and the customer has to wait a long time to hear back when they contact you, they might get impatient and go somewhere else.
A user journey can be a quick sketch on a notepad or an elaborate illustration that shows many aspects of what is happening. The most important thing is that it helps you understand what the customer is experiencing.
Here’s an example of a user journey from UX Apprentice:
A foundational principle in user experience design is empathy. Empathy allows you to see things from your customer’s point of view, and when you do, it often changes your perspective on the quality of the user experience you’ve created. As a business owner, your natural way of viewing your business is “inside-out”, meaning your primary perspective is your own business and then the customer. In order to create a great user experience, your perspective has to be “outside-in”, so looking at your business through the lens of the customer. Through doing this, you can better understand what expectations they have, what they are looking for your product or service to accomplish, and how they feel about their interactions with you.
How can you know these things? Ask them! You’ll be surprised how much feedback you can get from customers by sincerely asking for their feedback. Surveys are ok, but you typically get much better feedback from a real conversation. Once you have real feedback from your customers, it’s much easier to improve the quality of their interactions with your company.
Mistake number 3: Thinking that your customers care about your business
Your customer doesn’t care about your business. Maybe that sounds harsh, but really, your business is not important to them. They come to you because they have a goal, a need, or a problem. All they care about is whether or not you can help them.
Your job is to tell them that you understand what they’re looking for and that you’re the best option they have to meet their need. Don’t make it about your business, make it about what you can do to solve their problem. The faster you can build trust, help them make a decision and accomplish their goal, the happier they will be. Your content should be focused on their goal and eliminate any reason they might have to not take action. What concerns or objections do you think the customer has? Well, use your newly acquired empathy superpowers to find out!
Creating a great user experience is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it, no customers would ever be frustrated, and we would all be frolicking through the open fields together. These steps will give you a great head start in understanding how your customers are currently experiencing your company and what changes you can make. As long as you try to see things from your customer’s point of view and make it a habit to talk to them and see what works, you are well on your way to creating happy and loyal customers.
Ingrid has been in the design industry for over 15 years. Today, she leads the product design team at Infusionsoft and heads up their Utah office. Ingrid is a problem solver who enjoys bringing cross-functional teams together to create user-centric solutions and have fun in the process. In her free time, she can be found doing DIY projects, perfecting her barista skills, and enjoying the beautiful Utah outdoors with her husband, young daughter, and two dogs.