As user experience teams focus on developing innovative digital services that make the user experience easier and better, they must first ensure the challenges of website and application uptime and availability are under control.
The demand for constant availability of apps, sites, and services is nothing new. Digital users are only getting more demanding, and businesses that ensure their services are ‘always up’ and performing will dominate those who can’t successfully tackle performance issues.
Even established industry players still experience challenges when it comes to maintaining a culture of constant availability, and moving forward, we’re set to see companies get proactive to ensure availability, top performance, and ultimately, unparalleled user experience.
So what issues are organizations at the forefront of user experience excellence looking to tackle?
Address availability first, then tackle user experience
As companies plan for an engaging user experience, they first must ensure that the websites and applications they are designing will be available to their customers. When a customer goes to your site but is frustrated by a slow load time, they may abandon it before they ever interact.
Major website and application outages continue to be a problem for organizations trying to conduct business and for their customers. From Virgin Money Giving going down the night before the London Marathon to WhatsApp crashing over new years to the StubHub outage after the Georgia Bulldogs double-overtime win in Atlanta. The impact on organizations’ reputations, not to mention their bottom line, ranged from inconvenient to disastrous.
In September of last year, even Google experienced a meltdown. Since Google is one of the few companies that seem to run the world, so it’s no surprise the outage touched what feels like everyone as it faced application uptime issues with multiple services including Gmail, Drive, Maps, and YouTube. Potentially millions of users were affected for several hours across parts of North America, the UK, Europe, and Japan. The struggles of such a dominant provider should remind companies of all sizes that performance monitoring and testing remains a vital part of their infrastructure; no one is ‘too big to fail’.
What can we learn from this? Companies large and small need to wake up to the very real possibility of an outage. Application uptime matters more than ever, and if Google can go down, your business most definitely can, too. To this end, integrating website, application, and API performance testing and monitoring into your product and business strategy has never been as critically important as it is now, and it is a critical first step to ensure your customer experience efforts are not wasted.
It’s examples like these that show how far many organizations still have to go before they can even compete on a user experience level. Failing to ensure a 24/7 culture of availability and user-first culture impacts how competitive you can be in the market and in many cases, how you can deliver critical services.
Improve user experience by exercising and testing the supply chain
Application supply chains are becoming longer and more complex. As digital enablement is bolted on top of legacy systems, this puts new and unforeseen workloads on applications.
This means that it is no longer viable to assume a good user experience from the monitoring of individual components and that the experience needs to be measured at the edge at a macro level.
For organizations looking to differentiate from a user experience point of view, exercising and testing the supply chain could be a real market differentiator.
UX requirements should be on the radar of your C-suite
As organizations become increasingly digitally enabled, it will become more important for your C-level executives to be involved in looking at the performance dashboard.
Roles will have to transform; the CIO and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) may start to merge, as the necessity for customer awareness and UX appreciation supersedes technical expertise alone.
In many organizations, the head of Customer Experience will rise to become one of the most important roles supporting digital services. In some companies, this may mean that CDOs begin to address more customer experience requirements, and in others, it may mean that CDOs morph into the customer experience role over time.
In both instances, CDOs will need to begin to work more closely with UX design teams, playing a key role in user research and people-centric design before moving on to play an integral part in the direction of application load testing to ensure services work on all levels, end-to-end.
The ultimate goal here is to design user-friendly digital services that perform during peak traffic times. Customer experience can also level the playing field in an industry – optimized availability together with an engaging user experience allows large industry players to deliver an experience in line with customer expectations, and it also gives smaller companies the opportunity to leverage their creativity to compete in the fastest evolving digital landscape we’ve seen to date.
Prioritize web and application monitoring and load testing
We all know that unhappy users make for an unprofitable business, but you might not be aware of the scale of the impact that poor website or application performance can have on the success of your business. Let’s take website homepage loading time, for example. How long is ten seconds? According to a survey conducted by Apica, that’s long enough to lose 40% of potential users if they can’t access what they want in that timeframe.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a site or service’s graphic user interface is optimized for an amazing user experience – if performance and response times are not up to scratch, organizations will lose users. Companies must prioritize web and application monitoring and load testing so that user experience teams can focus on what they’re good at — developing innovative digital services that make the user experience easier and better.