Do you struggle to find a toilet in a famous shopping mall that you're visiting for the first time? Don't worry, it won't take long to find one if you know what to look for. If you're new to this topic, let me introduce you to UX/UI, or User Experience/User Interface.
UX has been around for more than half a century and was initially used in theme and amusement parks to guide customers to their desired locations or lead them along designated pathways or behaviors. Imagine how chaotic it would be if people were waiting for rides without a queue or if they kept taking shortcuts across beautifully manicured lawns. That's where UX design comes in - it's a field that studies how to lead customers to queue up or to build pathways that customers want to follow.
Nowadays, UX/UI has been adopted by tech companies that build apps or websites. We (including myself) use it every day to increase customer engagement with the core idea of "building what customers want, not what we want". The most common method we use to improve our products is the "usability test". The purpose of this test is to determine if any part of the autonomous process is missing.
For example, if your product is an eCommerce website that sells items online, the customer's process should look like this:
- Find the product they want
- Add the product to the cart
- Checkout via credit card
- Thank you page appears
- Customer receives a confirmation email
When I build a real or clickable website, I ask my wife or friend to test it by giving them a task to buy something, and I watch them to see how they interact with the website. If they get stuck at any point, that's a problem. Even if they pause for just a few seconds, that's still an issue. It's recommended to change and retest until the user can complete the task smoothly.
Sometimes, I receive feedback like, "Why does your website only accept credit card payments? I don't want to pay with a credit card." This feedback indicates that I have done something wrong too.
Going back to the example of finding a toilet, how do you find it? Personally, I look for the toilet sign on the ceiling, wall, or pole that points in the direction of the toilet. But have you ever had the bad experience of not being able to find a toilet in a certain location? And did you later find out that it was because the toilet sign was changed to an uncommon usage or there was no sign at all, only characters, or sometimes a small sign placed below eye level?
For your service, have you ever encountered a situation where your customer got stuck or needed to ask for help with a certain process? This is an indicator that you may have done something wrong too. Change it until it makes sense for your customer. We build products or services for our customers, not for ourselves. We need to make the process as easy as possible for customers.