How to Understand Your Users and Enhance Your UX



Your startup may look great on paper, but ideas are of little consequence if they aren’t paired with a great user experience. Technology gives a product limitless reach and limitless data to improve said reach.

Of course, it also means there is more competition than ever. You have to carefully consider all parts of your approach: A superior e-commerce solution can easily get steamrolled by an inferior offering with better UX. Something as simple as button placement can be enough to knock your product off its perch. Perhaps one of the best examples of UX’s effect involves my previous experience with a company called Color Labs.

Color’s second product was a live video broadcast app that beat similar products such as Periscope and Meerkat to market by more than three years. So what, exactly, caused Color’s streaming service to fail? Anchoring itself to Facebook for an audience. Color had a core misunderstanding of its tool.

Periscope and Meerkat learned from that misstep, having tremendous success as one-way broadcast mediums that seamlessly work with any individual, organization, or social platform. Their integrated features like payment gateways let customers make easy connections to social sites they may use to promote their online businesses.

Because more competition exists now than ever before and those peers have access to the same resources, making your product stand out in a sea of similar swimmers requires care, attention, and a unique approach to accessing your audience.

How to Expand the Experience

By thinking outside the box and developing alternate methods to enhance user interaction with your product, your service positions itself to stand out in the crowd. Here’s how to get there:

  1. Ask away. One way of improving your product is very simple, yet often ignored: Ask your users what they like and don’t like about your product. We’ve used this at my company, consulting audiences about what kinds of rewards they’d be interested in, how much they like our redesign, and more.

For example, ads — even the clever, well-executed ones — are annoying. They distract from the usability of whatever medium they appear on. So it’s no surprise that ad blocking in the U.S. increased by 48 percent in 2015 as users are taking more control over their product consumption. Ad blockers, in my opinion, hinder content creators from reaping financial rewards for their hard work — but not everyone feels that way.

Online e-commerce solutions allow enterprises to show themselves to potential customers in a certain way. Now, so many options for solutions exist that customers can have customized experiences, like ad blocking, tailored to their preferences.

  1. Reinvent the wheel. Try things. Big or small, make sure you A/B test every scenario under the sun to better your end product. An Econsultancy survey estimates that 67 percent of respondents implemented A/B testing to increase conversion rates.

My company’s redesign is a result of extensively evaluating everything from color to button shape. Though we’d been excited about developing a swipe interface, it became apparent to us that our customers preferred buttons, so we integrated those instead. If you’re unable to put the product in the customer’s hands, try to step into your audience’s shoes after each product iteration.

What works, and what does not? Think all this through, and examine every part of your product to ensure that it’s just right before — and even after — it’s unveiled to the consumer.

  1. Watch the results. Since it’s debut at the 1893 World’s Fair, the zipper has remained unchanged. But the user experience changed after Scott Peters saw that his uncle, suffering from a degenerative muscle disease, was unable to use his own zipper.

From this observation, Peters and Under Armour developed the MagZip in 2014. The invention uses magnets to automatically line up both sides of a zipper, making it easier for anyone to close up a jacket or shirt.

If a simple device like a zipper can be fixed by simple observation, that alone should signify how important it is to gauge feedback. Keep track of how customers use your product, and take that into account when making changes.

The one key takeaway is that you should always try and test new ideas for your product. Nothing is worse than stagnation. Be on the lookout for new features that will ensure you’ll keep your customers happy. After all, they’re the ones who truly determine your success.



Image Credit: CC by Ky

About the author: Andrew J Chapin

Andrew J. Chapin is the founder of benjamin, an e-commerce flash deals app that forces you to make a purchase decision in 60 seconds or less. In a space that’s thick with competition from contenders including Groupon and LivingSocial, benjamin has grown to 30,000 active daily users in just five months. Andrew’s business development experience comes from companies large and small, including Microsoft, Color Labs, and Feathr.

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