UX design is essential. With statistics being thrown around like 40 percent of visitors will stop engaging with a site if they find the design to be “shabby,” or how just a one second delay in load speed lowers user satisfaction, it’s obvious that without UX design you’ll be on the fast track to nowhere.
The thing with UX is that it’s constantly changing. Small shifts, fueled by technology and trends, influence the user’s expectations. We need a tool that helps us evaluate consumer habits and behaviors, and we need to combine this with information about how they’re using websites and apps.
In other words, we need data.
Data-driven UX design prevents businesses from falling prey to assumptions and misconceptions about user expectations. But, we’re not sorcerers, so we need a tool to help us derive relevant data. You’ll probably recognize this tool by the word “analytics”.
Think of analytics as a puzzle. There are multiple pieces of data that tell you specific details about your business and customers. Each piece on their own means one thing, but when we start to put them together, we see something more. The more pieces of data that come together, the bigger the picture gets. Analytics is like the completed puzzle, where all the pieces together create the big picture.
When it comes to user research, analytics show us the big picture of how people are using your site. We learn about their age, location, habits and interests. All these things together are going to influence what makes a great UX and how you can meet their expectations.
Simply put, UX design is too important to depend on subjective opinions, so we need analytics. Here’s exactly how analytics help build data-driven UX design.
Analytics Allow You to Dig Deeper into User Behaviors
You might be accustomed to paying attention to things like bounce rates, click-through rates and conversions. These numbers tell a very baseline story of what’s happening when someone visits your site. The problem is that these numbers alone don’t tell us enough of what’s happening.
Take for example, your click-through rate. You might have a great CTR on a piece of content, but do you know how long it takes the user to click all the way through? Are they clicking at a slow enough rate to absorb the content or are they getting through as fast as they can because they just want to reach the end?
The difference between the two is UX. In one case, the users are enjoying the experience and taking their time. There’s something there that’s of value to them – the content is easy to navigate and they aren’t put off by what’s going on.
On the other hand, we have users that are irritated or frustrated. They don’t really have any interest in the content, they just want to take a shortcut to the end, but it isn’t possible. Instead, they’re forced to go through the process to reach a destination. The whole thing took too much of their time, and they’re not even really sure it was worth it.
Both of these scenarios have the same click through rate, but the user experience was vastly different. How do you know the difference? Analytics.
There are 5 main goals that analytics and data-driven UX design help us accomplish.
- Discover where users are leaving and what can be done to encourage them to stay
- Help assess whether the visual design helps the user to find the site accessible and easy to use
- Discover what type of content is working and when placement matters
- Pinpoint what boosts conversions so that your site maximizes sales opportunities
- Optimize the customer journey from the first time they land to the point of conversion and beyond
Analytics Don’t Come from Just Spreadsheets
When aiming for data-driven UX design, it’s important to not forget about the customer. Sure, all the analytics are about their actions and behaviors, but you shouldn’t be relying on software to tell you everything you need to know.
There’s a lot that you can learn just from reading customer reviews and testimonials. You can even interweave that information with your analytics. For example, say last month was killer for your Chicago business’s reviews. Your normally stellar reputation took several hits. Comments left by customers were sparse, but it’s obvious something was going on.
Compare the dates and circumstances of those reviews with your analytics. There’s are really good chance you’re going to spot something that wasn’t showing up before. Start with analytics and then optimize customer feedback to find solutions for your UX design.
The Bottom Line
Without data-driven design, you’re betting your business on theories and ideas that might not apply. Data-driven UX design can stop you from falling into a trap of generalized thinking. You need truth about your customers, not a one size fits all approach that’s meant to fit every business, no matter their size, demographic, or industry.
Your customers are your lifeline and your website is where you’ll meet them. Data-driven UX design isn’t an option; it’s absolutely critical for your success. Data-driven UX shows your customers that you care about them, their journey and your relationship. It’s a winning strategy.
Abdul has helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.