Whether streaming platforms, social media sites, apps or online retailers, today’s expansive digital landscape offers consumers an abundance of options at their fingertips. While this gives consumers expanded choices of where to spend their time (and money), retailers face ever-increasing online competition.
For instance, retail giant Macy’s is following in the footsteps of Amazon, Walmart and Target with the launch of its own online marketplace later this year. And for good reason. Boosted by pandemic spending, online marketplaces accounted for two-thirds of global e-commerce sales in 2021.
As more brands flock to digital consumerism to generate revenue, standing out to potential customers becomes more challenging. One key differentiator for brands to attract and retain customers is user experience (UX) research, which helps brands identify exactly what end-users want.
The Difference UX Research Makes
Because of the endless online options available, consumers are selective and sensitive to the slightest deterrents. Hard-to-navigate platforms, confusing user interfaces and poor usability all contribute to consumers leaving a site as quickly as they came. In fact, 88% of online shoppers won’t return to a site after a bad user experience.
By equipping brands to focus on what consumers want, need and value, UX research can help brands avoid bad experiences. Whether through qualitative or quantitative methodologies, UX research takes the guesswork out of user design and product development, allowing brands to invest in exactly what their customers ask for — which is imperative in a digital-first world.
Incorporating UX research that hits the mark starts with developing strategies that evolve amid changing customer behaviors and expectations. Here are two critical best practices to consider for UX strategies:
Keep Abreast of Trends That Will Influence UX
Consumer values change over time and are influenced by what’s happening in the world. For instance, from food to gas prices, inflation is the latest event that’s affected how consumers spend their money, with many opting to save and find deals where they can. Brands have to take this into consideration in their UX or else they’ll alienate key customer bases. Where consumer decisions drive trends, UX research follows.
One trend brands should have on their radar is the growing demand for inclusivity. Brands must ensure they’re designing a UX that accounts for various ethnicities, intellectual levels, age groups and physical disabilities. This could mean creating emojis with a wide range of skin colors or ensuring that websites are accessible to users that are vision impaired.
Another trend to consider is “less is more.” During the height of the digital explosion in 2020, app developers added more options and complicated features to appease customers, but the result had the opposite effect, overwhelming them instead. Brands need to strike a balance between more offerings and a simplified and intuitive user interface.
Polish the Research Questions You Ask Your Users
A critical component of UX research is conducted through interviews with consumers. But for interviews to be fruitful, the right questions need to be formulated. To create impactful interview questions, start by defining broad themes, like the impact of social media on shopping. Knowing the desired outcome of the interview helps guide the themes. Brainstorm potential angles and include representatives from market research and product teams in the session to get their perspectives.
Next, delve deeper into the ideas. Break down each theme to find the one that resonates best with what the interview should accomplish. For example, if the purpose of the interview is to understand how consumer shopping habits are shaped by social media, then the “impact of social media on shopping” theme should be used.
Once finished, identify questions that align with the research idea’s overall goal and ensure they’re understandable enough for participants to answer. Steer clear of technical terms or jargon in questions to avoid confusion and be sure to be as exact as possible so participants know what kind of response is needed.
Finally, streamline the questions identified by eliminating any bias that may influence participants’ answers. This will encourage participants to give honest feedback instead of being led into a particular response. For instance, don’t use specific emotions in questions, such as “How happy or angry did you feel when using our product?” Instead, ask, “How did you feel when using our product?”
Brands today need UX research to rise above the competition in the digital age. This requires deploying a UX strategy that evolves as consumers’ values do. By keeping up with trends and creating effective interview questions, brands can continue to deliver experiences that align with consumers and, eventually, convert them into customers.