Jonathan Kochis, Founder of UX Design firm ResIM, knows a thing or two about creating a good experience for customers.
Over the past decade, Jonathan and his team have helped start-ups and large organizations tackle their most pressing design and business challenges.
But user experience design or ‘UX,’ still remains a mystery to many. Seemingly an abstract concept, it can be all too easy to gloss over the acronym and lose its connection to your industry.
Here, Jonathan explains what User Experience Design is, and why every business – and employee – should care.
Q: Can you explain the field of User Experience Design?
A: User experience – put simply – is how it feels for people before, during, and after an interaction with a business or organization. Traditionally, UX was concerned with screen-based experiences like software, but this is changing to include interactions where voice (think Siri or Alexa) is the interface.
The practice of UX design includes activities like user research, interface design, interaction design, usability testing, copywriting, and development.
Q. Why does UX matter?
A: We are living in the Age of the Customer. As customers we can do so much research on our own. We’re no longer relying primarily on businesses to educate ourselves about a purchase decision. Instead, we turn to reviews and join groups or ask friends, in a manner that’s much faster than ever before. This, combined with seemingly endless choice, gives us much greater control and puts the onus on businesses to compete in areas well beyond product and price.
UX design seeks to understand customers and design for them in ways that save time, reduce friction, and generally add value to their journey with a business.
Q: What are questions that businesses should be asking to determine if their user experience is good or bad?
A: As a business, some important questions to ask (and answer) are:
- Do you know the steps people are going through before, during, and after they become a customer?
- Do you understand your customers’ motivation and what triggers them to interact with you?
- Which tasks are most important to your customers as they’re interacting with your website/app/software?
- How satisfied are your customers with performing these tasks? Are they left with a memorable sense of accomplishment?
The answers to these questions are obtained through user (or UX) research and will help you better understand your customers while evaluating their satisfaction with things as they exist today.
Q: What are some common research methods to help better understand customers?
A: Like any form of research, user research is divided into two categories: quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative research answers questions such as “how many people clicked this button,” or “what percentage of our users visit our site using a mobile device.” Though part of the user research mix, quantitative research can’t provide reason or signify a cause for behavior.
Qualitative research helps us understand why people do the things they do, and is most often done through interviews and conversations.
Q: What usually happens after research?
A: It doesn’t need to be formal, but research should be an ongoing activity. Constant feedback and understanding feeds constant improvements.
In a project setting, user research helps inform strategy. As in ‘this is the direction we should take because we know these things about our customers.’ Research findings are combined with business strategy and design (information architecture, interfaces, user flows) to move projects forward.
Research comes in again in the form of usability testing as interfaces are completed and assembled to create prototypes. We like to get feedback on the execution of our strategy as early and frequently as possible.
Q: Do you see any common mistakes that should be avoided?
A: The most common mistake I see is starting with questions like “What do we need to tell people?” or “What can we tell our customers that makes them want to buy widget x, y, z?”
But UX asks “What do people want to know?” or “What have people come here to find or do?”
Starting with a customer-centric question creates a big shift in thinking and often leads to websites and applications that are easier to use, better at solving real problems, and more valuable to customers.
Want to learn more about how UX can be part of your brand story?
Listen to Jonathan Kochis on the Sound Stories Podcast.
About Jonathan Kochis
Jonathan Kochis is the founder of ResIM, a leading UX research, design, and consulting group. In addition, he is also a certified Nielsen Norman UX practitioner with over a decade of experience in usability testing, user research, creative direction, information architecture design, business analysis, and team leadership. Throughout the course of his career, Jonathan’s clients have ranged from large institutions, to enterprises and start-ups.