Just over a year ago, Lithium Technologies commissioned a survey through research agency Harris Interactive to measure attitudes towards customer experiences in the UK. You probably won't be too surprised to find out that more than three-quarters of the 1,000 respondents said they placed greater value on customer experience than the product itself.
Of course, user experience (UX) is merely a component of customer experience, and it is possible for one to be good and the other to be bad. But it’s a crucial component nevertheless, and, in a digital world, your website's role as the face of your business becomes all the more important.
What is an online user experience?
An online user experience refers to a customer's interaction with a website, app or other software. Underpinning this is the design and structure of the user interface, whereby usability, navigation, customer journey, site speed, site layout, information hierarchy, comprehension and numerous other elements should be optimised, and ultimately combine to form an enjoyable, efficient and painless experience for the duration of the user's visit.
What are the key benefits of outstanding UX?
As the online retail space grows, so too does the prize - capturing a large chunk of this market. Here are just some of the core benefits of having a market-leading user experience...
Drive conversion - Getting customers to your website is challenging enough - you don't want to lose them once you have their attention! It's not just about creating a seamless customer journey - it's also about instilling confidence every step of the way that the purchase they're about to make is the best one for them. Facilitate that with your online UX, and you can expect conversion rates to go through the roof.
Affinity with your brand - Brand loyalty is becoming increasingly fickle, but one of the best ways to win over hearts and minds is with excellent UX. Strike that balance between ease of use, efficiency and being informative, and you'll not only attract repeat customers - they'll spread the word too.
An SEO boost - Google puts a lot of emphasis on engagement, and how users respond to search results. To ascertain this, there is much focus on factors such as time spent on pages, navigation behaviour, relevance of content, page load speeds and layout/design. Optimising UX and site performance can therefore provide significant SEO ranking gains and attract even larger volumes of traffic as a result.
Shape your brand - You may have the best product in the world, engaging content, or a world-class design. But poor online UX can nullify all of the above, with these USPs being mired in high drop-off rates. Building a great online user experience is the most important fundamental of any website or app, and lays the platform for you to extol the virtues of what you have to offer your customers.
Customer focus and targeting – Almost every company claims to put the customer first. One of the best ways to actually prove it is to design a website and/or app with superb UX. Optimising a site with the user at the forefront of your mind will boost engagement, which, in turn, leaves you well placed to target the customer effectively, and/or steer them on a journey that both completes your goals/objectives, and leaves them satisfied with their experience.
Mobile, competitors and the opportunities of good UX
Perhaps the best investment of resource you can make is to optimise your user experience for mobile. As these devices increasingly dominate site visits and purchases, so too does the importance of tailoring and improving their UX.
For online retailers, who operate within a competitive space, staying on top of your mobile interface(s) is particularly essential. With challengers, disruptors and digital behemoths swooping in from everywhere, profit margins are shrinking and pressures are intensifying. Yet rather than having to throw discounts and loss leaders into the mix to attract and retain customers, outstanding UX allows you to steal a march on your competitors without even breaking a sweat. Lay the foundations correctly, while maintaining an appetite for constant innovation and UX enhancements, and you'll reap the rewards for a long time to come.