Ask The Mompreneur: What Is ‘User Experience?’

By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.

This week's Ask the Mompreneur features an interview with John Boykin, a user experience expert and information architect, who has consulted companies such as Wal-Mart, Bank of American, NBC, and Del Monte.

Q: I have worked on business websites for more than a decade, but it was only in the last couple of years that I stumbled upon a field called user experience, or UX, and realized there was a proper name of a bunch of stuff that I previously had no name for.

A: User experience, or UX, is the practice of designing your website, mobile app or whatever to give your users the best possible experience consistent with your business needs. The core principle of good user experience is empathy. To design a good user experience, you must be able to see the world through your users. You can achieve this by:

-Talking with and, more important, listening to your users

-Observing them using your baby, particularly where they stumble

-Statistically tracking how they are actually using it, particularly the points at which their progress stops

Other tips:

SERVICE, NOT PRODUCT Think of what you are offering as a service, not a product: How does it help impatient people solve their problems, get the info they need, or enjoy some other payoff they want?

MINIMALISM Subtract, subtract, subtract. Have as few words, images, boxes and lines, features, screens and steps, form fields, and distractions and doodads as is absolutely necessary to accomplish the purpose. A good way to force yourself to minimize is to design for the smallest smart phone first, which forces you to prioritize elements.

CLARITY Your value proposition needs to be so clear and concise that users understand it at a glance. They should be able to get the point of each screen in two seconds of scanning. That means:

-A self-explanatory screen title that says what that screen is or what the user is supposed to do there

-Plenty of subheads

-Crystal clear wording (including your action buttons)

IMPROVE YOUR ODDS A good user experience does not guarantee success. But a bad user experience does guarantee failure. To improve your odds dramatically, make good user experience a priority. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.

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