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Get to know Usability & User Experience

Amol Kadam, Creative Strategist & UX Director, RBBi

Companies are aware of the importance of usability and user experience but in reality, how many companies truly understand it?

September 12, 2013 5:15 by

In this region, digital presence – websites, mobile apps, intranets, touch screen kiosks, office automation solutions and EPR solutions – is normally developed without a hint of actual design.

In fact, when the term ‘design’ is used here, it usually refers to the aesthetics of the layout, but as Steve Jobs once said: ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works’.

Many people have heard of the terms ‘User Experience’ (UX) and ‘Usability’, and particularly over the past year there has been an increase of awareness in the region.

In simple terms, usability is the measure of ease with which users can use a product, interface, or any other man-made object to achieve the assigned goal. User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the brand, its services, and its products as explained by UX guru Neilson Norman. So, from these definitions one can arguably say that usability is part of the overall user experience.

A good example would be buying a product from a local website.

The ease or difficultly by which you are able to use their website to find the product, get the information, place an order and pay online is usability.

Whether your order reaches on time, its packaging is adequate, the response from their call centre executive or after-sale support is timely are all factors that build the overall user experience about the brand.

Both of these terms are new to this region and in the last few years there has been an Internet boom, with many e-commerce businesses setting up in the region. Companies are aware of the importance of usability and user experience but in reality, how many companies truly understand this importance? Have they done anything about the issue, and how are they measuring it?

As far as e-commerce usability is concerned, there are a few quick checkpoints:

1 – Conversions: Websites spend lot of money trying to attract visitors but in most cases they do not monitor the conversions from the homepage to actual transactions made.

2 – Conversation: A successful e-commerce portal creates a bond with the user by speaking to them in their language.

3 – Check out your checkout: Data shows that most users drop out at the checkout stage. It could be for many reasons; lack of payment options, difficulty in filling out the registration form, the number of fields to be filled or the general navigation of the shopping cart.

4 – Don’t develop the site, design it: Most websites are developed by programmers, and, with all due respect, one should understand that designing an interface is a specialised task.

5 – Effective product search and filters: If the user knows exactly what they’re looking for, they will opt to use a search instead of browsing through categories and filters. The search feature on the site should enable them to reach desired location and should have all relevant filters to let them refine their results and give more freedom.

By Amol Kadam, creative strategist & UX director at Dubai-based Red Blue Blur Ideas (RBBi).

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