Every company with some kind of product in the market that wants to offer better user experience. Whether the product is a website, mobile app, or a consumable good, it should offer something in the way of better user experience.
Generally, most UX enhancement decisions come down to design. If the design of a website or a mobile app is up to the task, the user experience will naturally be optimal. The real question here is this – how does one come up with the optimal design?
The race to come up with the best UX design is not new. For years, companies have been chasing techniques that promise a better user experience. Until now, there is no easy recipe to provide better UX. Some companies try to hire top design professionals in the market. Others focus on developing the right work methodology to provide better UX to clients.
Big companies typically buy their way to providing the best experience possible. This is because they have the resources to do everything possible to come up with better UX design.
Do they succeed? Yes. With enough investment, any company in the world can provide better UX design than what customers are used to.
However, simply throwing money at the problem is not a real solution. Eventually, a company has to think of adopting an approach which ensures it offers a better user experience without endless injection of capital.
The search for a way to provide better user experience brings us here. In this piece, we will discuss the most important way today through which a company can provide the best user experience possible.
Enter Data Analysis – Finding the Right Design in the Numbers
It is generally hard to find a lot of discussion about data analytics in the field of design. This is because of a number of reasons. For one, a UX designer is expected to be a design professional, not a data analyst. Making key UX design decisions based on a particular statistic or data pattern is not something a UX designer is used to.
It is first important to understand the role of data analysis in any field. At its heart, the sole purpose of data analysis is providing useful insights. Before making any business decision, companies call upon their data analysts to help get better insights. For instance, before launching a fitness and wellness app, a company might think it’s wise to study some data. This data can include the size of the market, the market share of current top apps, and so on.
Thus, data analysis can help a company make better decisions.
However, companies don’t usually take data analysis into consideration when making design decisions. This is partly because most people consider UX design and its effect on user experience as a qualitative factor. In other words, it is impossible to quantify UX design and analyse it using data analytic techniques.
This perception is prevalent, and it is false. While a UX designer will design a website or an app using pure creativity that is not a reason to leave data analysis out of the mix.
While data does not play a literal role in the design process, it can dictate the decisions a UX designer makes. Coming back to the example of a fitness app, the people designing the app can study the UX design of the successful ones and take home the positives. Thus, data can be a way to make better design decisions.
The Need for Data Analysis in Providing Better User Experience
Let’s move away from the typical user experience definition and try to understand the term in simple words.
You will hear many professionals say user experience is a subjective factor. From one perspective, this statement is true. The experience each person draws from using a website or app is subjective. However, this is only one side of the story.
There are clear UX design patterns one can associate with better user experience. The challenge for a UX designer is finding a way to identify these patterns.
This is where design testing comes in.
Design testing simply refers to getting important feedback from real users regarding the design of a website or app. The simple action of asking a potential user whether the design of a product is good can be categorized under design testing.
How does a UX designer test designs?
Generally, UX designer are likely to rely on their own experiences and A/B testing to know whether the design is working for the intended audience.
It is not entirely wrong to rely on personal experience and A/B testing. Trusting in experience is natural and a very important factor. The fact that most companies prefer to hire a UX designer with a rich experience in the field suggests the immense value of a sound track-record.
In addition, A/B testing is also a very effective way to validate a design. It helps a UX designer flesh out multiple design ideas with the audience and identify the optimal design.
The Problem in Traditional Testing
However, herein lies a problem.
In relying on professional experience and A/B testing alone, designers restrict the many different possible design solutions. This is because both these testing methods only bring the personal design ideas of a professional.
When UX designers fall back on professional experience, they restrict the scope of design to their own knowledge. This creates an echo chamber problem for a design team.
This also happens in A/B testing. All the different designs tested with A/B testing are restricted within the scope of a designer’s experience.
Restricting the scope of a design process severely dents any effort to ensure better user experience.
Thus, it is safe to say that traditional testing reduces the scope of the design process. Of all the design possibilities in the world, it restricts the design possibilities a website or app can exploit.
The solution to this fundamental problem is turning to real numbers and data.
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How Data Becomes an Effective Solution?
Real data analysis performs two clear functions that makes better user experience a real possibility. Firstly, it validates any theory or hypotheses a UX designer might have. This is possible with the help of real user data validating any idea or theory a designer might have.
This is an incredible resource for designers. During the design process, they can weigh every decision based on historical user data and take a call based on actual statistics. Thus, sound data analytics can indeed help designers devise a better design theory which leads to better user experience.
Secondly, user data analysis can also show UX designers an entirely new scope of design possibilities. In analyzing user behavior across different segments of the audience, UX designers can identify designs which create more engagement and offer better user experience.
For both these reasons, it is wise for design pros to take data analysis seriously. Traditional design testing is a good solution and provides some direction, but the future lies in data analysis.
Thus, the need for data analysis is immense for providing better user experience in this day and age.
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How to Use Data Analytics to Provide Better User Experience?
It is easy to say that data analytics is essential for better user experience. However, the job of actually using data to bring real change to user experience is much harder.
While it is hard, it is also essential. After all, there is no point discussing the importance of data if companies don’t actually know how to use it to improve user experience.
Generally, data analytics is integrated in the design process itself and doesn’t involve a separate process. In the following points, we will highlight how data analytics helps companies figure out their design solutions with greater efficiency.
Step One – Understand the Audience
User data is very useful to understand the behaviour of the audience. In the first step, companies must make an effort to understand their audience. This is generally accomplished by creating buyer personas.
Buyer personas refer to the generalized version of a person who belongs to the target audience of a company. For example, what would the typical buyer persona of a K-12 learning app be? To analyse this, analysts can break down user data and identify each different segment of the target audience.
Each segment of the audience would possibly have a different reaction to the design choices of an app. For instance, younger users of the app would be comfortable using the app without any automated guidance. In fact, they would find app usage instruction too obstructive. On the other hand, older parents who download the app for their children might appreciate a little handholding while using the app.
Thus, analysts have to study every aspect of their audience. This is where user data analysis helps so much.
Step Two – Analyze User Data for Each Action
In step two, UX designers and analysts have to go through every action a user can generally take on a website or app. For each possible action, the analyst has to analyse user data and make note of the areas where user engagement is falling.
This is the most comprehensive aspect of data analysis in UX design because it has a direct impact on design decisions. Based on user engagement and alignment of user actions with the goals of the company, key changes are made to ensure better user experience.
Generally, the task of analyzing every user action is broken down into smaller segments. This helps analysts understand the finer details of every design aspect. These details and their analysis goes a long way in helping analysts figure out which parts of a design can be optimized for better user experience.
This process also requires the explicit help of UX designers. This is because it is designers who have to ultimately use the insights provided by analysts to offer better user experience. Thus, involving designers in the process is absolutely crucial.
Step Three – Redesign
Once the analysis is complete, the next step is redesigning the website or app based on user data analysis. Generally, this step takes place in tandem with user data analysis for each action in step two.
In the redesign phase, designers have to study the insights the analytic process provides and make design decisions accordingly. This also means they can study user data for other websites or apps which perform well on key data points.
Thus, going beyond a singular perspective is crucial. This is why it is important to bring different perspectives during the actual redesign process.
Step Four – Keep Repeating the Process
Using data analytics for better user experience is a never ending process. There really is no way a company can stop trying to improve user experience. There is always some new innovative design which users respond to with greater engagement.
Thus, there is no stopping this cycle. Ultimately, it is up to UX designers and analysts to keep the cycle moving.
Repeating the process means starting from step one. Analysts have to update their buyer personas because the audience and customer base keeps changing from time to time. Changes in the buyer personas should immediately instigate design changes as their expectations with regard to user experience are different.
The falling dominoes will again lead analysts and designers back to step three when they start redesigning every little part of a website or app. Thus, if analysts remain active and informed, there will always be room for providing better user experience.
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