User experience is a critical piece of the development puzzle. However, UX doesn’t only come into play during the creation of the application – managers must ensure that the product they provide offers a beneficial UX throughout its lifecycle.
Unfortunately, many organizations don’t focus on UX as much as they should. UX doesn’t often become a main consideration until something goes wrong. By ensuring that UX is a main aspect of the project throughout, organizations can be sure that they are providing their users with a usable product that will offer real value.
But how can you determine if your product offers a beneficial UX?
The importance of UX
First, it’s important to understand what makes a product’s UX so important.
Many developers will place a high priority on the look and feel of the application as well as its features and capabilities without ever thinking about how these will impact the users and their interactions with the platform. This can become very problematic. As Design Shack pointed out, a beautifully designed product with all the bells and whistles in the world becomes meaningless if users can’t interact with it properly.
“It doesn’t matter what your site or app looks like if people don’t know how to interact with it. And moreover, they need to enjoy that interaction,” Design Shack contributor Carrie Cousins wrote. “Neglecting UX can result in a sloppy site that people will not come back to. Developing an interaction-rich experience will drive users back to a site.”
In this way, it’s critical to not only think about what the product will look like and what capabilities it will provide, but also how users will utilize and relate to these elements. Here, it can be beneficial to take a user’s point of view when examining the application or website: If you were an end user, would you be able to leverage the product in a way that is advantageous for your needs and experience?
UX and agile development
In the current development landscape, many organizations are turning to agile development methodologies in order to ensure a beneficial UX for end users. Lean, agile development helps the team be more responsive and reactive to users’ needs, adjusting their development approach to best suit users’ requirements.
UX Magazine contributor Michael Lai noted that lean and agile methodologies can be paired in such a way that they complement each other: In other words, making the organization more lean will also help it become more agile.
“You can even argue that what lean tackles at the management team level (by cutting down on unnecessary or inefficient processes) agile tries to tackle at the development team level (by removing some limitations of the traditional systems development lifecycle),” Lai wrote. “Therefore, it makes sense to have them working in tandem. When the organization has an integrated and efficient development pipeline, a UX architect/designer will be able to produce their best work.”
Nielsen Norman Group contributor Hoa Loranger noted that in order for lean and agile methodologies to best benefit the product’s UX, it must be a prime focus throughout the sprint. Loranger suggested incorporating UX ideas in the agile process at every point possible – “from backlog grooming and sprint planning to wireframing and user research.” It is also advantageous to plan certain UX design activities ahead of the sprint, so that proactive testing can take place. UX experts note that this approach can help ensure that the UX leads the rest of the group, laying the foundation for the entire product.
UX and ROI
The product’s UX can also have a direct impact on its return on investment. Making UX a priority can help prevent wasted resources, keeping costs down and helping to boost potential ROI. UX expert Dr. Susan Weinschenk noted that developers may spend up to 50 percent of their time on a project reworking items – all of which is avoidable if UX best practices are followed.
Placing UX at the forefront can also prevent some of the most common reasons projects fail, including sloppy development, poorly defined product requirements and an inability to overcome certain complexities.
According to Usability.gov, there are three important factors when calculating the ROI of a product’s UX, including any errors, the cost of development and maintenance and overall productivity.
Weinschenk provides more detailed calculations in this white paper.
Overall, teams that place a high priority on the UX of a product – how users will leverage and interact with the platform – help to ensure its success. The UX should drive the creation and improvement of the product, addressing users’ needs while encouraging them to continually utilize the website or application.
To find out more about the importance of UX and how it can impact the success of a product, contact Making Sense today.