A large business with significant resources may be able to create competitive UX design using a large team, but this is not usually the case for SMEs. However, as the whole customer experience usually starts with a visual or user experience, if the UX design of their digital product is lacking, then the company will be at a disadvantage. This makes customer-driven UX design a pressing issue for smaller companies.
Clearly then, UX design holds huge potential for a small business. As the place where marketing and technology meet, small businesses need a strategy to maximise their UX impact at a reasonable cost.
Firstly, research. By understanding rather than guessing your consumers’ needs, you can provide them more specifically with what they want – so ask them questions. This is where surveys for evaluating user tasks are useful. Use a checkbox format to list all product features you’re willing to provide and limit the maximum number of choices to gain targeted results.
Secondly, after analysing the results, speak to actual customers by phone to gain more information on their priorities which have already been highlighted by the survey. Target questions specifically on their needs to make feedback as meaningful as possible.
Next, perform a heuristic evaluation. This is a UX method used in software design. It helps to identify usability problems and define the efficiency of user interfaces making it very useful for small businesses that don’t have an experienced UX specialist.
The 10 principles of a heuristic evaluation are:
- Visibility of system status. This keep users informed about what’s happening, appropriately and within a reasonable time. For example, showing the progress of a loading page or app.
- Match between system and the real world. This means that the system speaks the users’ language in a logical order rather than using technical jargon.
- User control and freedom. This provides users with an easy way out of a system function such as redo/undo/cancel options.
- Consistency and standards. This means that wording, UI patterns and conventions are consistent throughout the platform.
- Error prevention. This involves careful design to remove problems in the first place or at least providing users with confirmation options before they act.
- Recognition rather than recall. This means show necessary information on the screen where action is taken – don’t expect users to remember from the previous page.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use. This gives experienced users access to shortcuts and preferences.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design. The lower the cognitive workload, the easier the user experience.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors. This means that error messages should clearly explain the problem and suggest a solution.
- Help and documentation. This means that if help documentation is necessary then easy, detailed and concrete instructions should be provided.
Next, utilise usability testing to remove bugs and detect other issues. This can be done with as few as five users if you remember to prioritise, so base feature development and implementation on the main common denominator of customer surveys and feedback, not on the customer who has the loudest voice. Focusing on priorities saves time and money.
Keeping UX design simple, clear and quick, will enable smaller companies to connect to their audience in a meaningful and personalised way.