UX/UI 101: How User Experience Strategy Helps Improve Conversions

February 18, 2022

7 mins

Is your website failing to produce the results you want? If so, you may have a problem with User Experience strategy (UX) and/or User Interface design (UI).

As a website design and development agency, we talk with a lot of business owners who are unsatisfied with their websites. The clients’ pain points may seem cosmetic at first, but upon further investigation, the problems typically stem from a flawed UX or UI process.

If these terms are new to you, don’t worry. Unless you work in the tech industry you may not have a full picture of the nuanced differences between these two specialties. But nine times out of ten, websites and mobile apps that are not producing results typically have either a UX problem or a UI problem.

We understand that you have enough on your plate without needing to become an expert in UX/UI so below, please find our user-friendly, in-plain-English explanation of UX/UI design for small business owners and how it applies to your website or mobile app.

What is UX?

UX is an abbreviation for User Experience. For your customer, UX refers to how a person feels about their experience using your website or mobile app. For you as a business owner, UX strategy means putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and plotting their course through your website to the action you want them to fulfill.

If your customer feels happy or satisfied with the outcome of using your site, then you have a good user experience in place. If your customer feels frustrated or confused, then you either have a bad UX website or simply haven’t thought through the details from a UX perspective.

See Related: Interested in Mobile App Development? Here is What You Need to Know

Why is UX Important?

Surprisingly this question is not uncommon—especially in a world of DIY website design. The average person figuring out how to build a website on their own wouldn’t necessarily know how to apply UX principles to their site’s functionality. But they will certainly feel it if the website isn’t accomplishing its intended purpose.

An important point to remember is this: UX should always inform UI. Before websites and mobile apps are designed, it’s important to map out a structure that defines how a person will use your website. Not how you want them to use it, or hope they will use it, but what will be naturally intuitive and make sense to the person moving through your buyer’s journey.

A thorough UX strategy should include extensive customer learning, workflows, wireframes, and multiple rounds of testing before the user interface is designed. Glossing over any of these steps is typically when problems occur. For example, the design of your current website or app almost certainly included workflows and wireframes, but may not have invested in the customer research and testing that ensures a good user experience.

What is UI?

UI stands for User Interface. This refers to the graphic design of a website or mobile app—how it looks, the shape and size of the icons, how the information is displayed in the navigation, how videos and other images are displayed, and how it looks on multiple screens (aka responsive design). UI design applies your visual brand to the website or mobile app to ensure consistency across all marketing channels.

Good UI should look clean and get the job done without distraction. It takes into account what a user wants to see and when they expect to see it. UI also includes how it looks to move from one screen to another, especially if your website includes multiple back-end applications.

UI design happens once UX is complete. A UI designer takes the workflows and wireframes and lays everything out in a way that is easy to understand and pleasing to the eye. UI designers ensure that the information isn’t crowded or jumbled up on the screen so that your users are not overwhelmed or confused.

See Related: Brand Identity 101: The Ultimate Guide to a Fresh New Look for Your Business

Why UI Design is Important

UI is important because it determines the first impression end-users will have of your website or app and determines whether or not they’ll stick around or bounce to your competitor. If your site or app is glitchy or buggy, you will most certainly lose the lead. But if everything looks good and runs smoothly, you should be seeing conversions.

UI can become complicated when there is disagreement between what UI designers recommend and how you or your internal stakeholders think it should look. Because UX informs UI, the design process should be based on customer research and testing, not opinions. If the information is not arranged in a way that makes sense to your target audience, you could be losing their business.

UX vs. UI Design: What’s the Difference?

At first glance, you may be thinking “what’s the difference between UX and UI.” They are quite similar and are often lumped together as the same thing. But as you can hopefully see, these are two very different yet equally important aspects of the website and mobile app development and design process.

UX = Strategy; UI = Design 

UX refers to the experience someone has using your website or mobile app (how it makes them feel) which comes as a result of a thoroughly planned strategy (or lack thereof). On the other hand, UI refers to how the website or mobile app appears visually to an end-user and how a web designer brings the UX strategy to life.

Sometimes it’s helpful to think of these terms in word pictures. If UX is the outline, UI is the color. If UX is the body, UI is the clothes or fashion style. These are simplistic ways of explaining these terms, but many find it helpful to make the distinction between the two.

What to Do About Bad UX/UI?

If you’re looking for ways to improve user experience, you’re in the right place. You may have started this process by searching for ways to improve website conversions or get more business from your mobile app. But now, you may realize that your website or mobile app were not designed with UX or UI in mind. If this is the case, here are a few next steps you can take to remedy the problem.

1. Audit

Think about how your users’ online experience with your brand is making them feel. If conversions are down, then you may need to talk to current customers, do more in-depth persona research, and rethink the structure of your site.

Maybe the layout of your website is confusing people (remember, if you confuse you lose). Or maybe there are too many clicks between your user’s first look and the CTA. The brain doesn’t want to waste energy so you must make the experience as simple and intuitive as possible.

2. Assess

Stop and make a list of every action a user will take on your website, from first impression to conversion—whether that’s “get a quote”, “schedule a free call”, or “buy now.” Think about what they will want to see along the way.

  • What type of content are they looking for?
  • Which keywords do they have in mind that will grab their attention?
  • What questions are they asking?
  • What problems are they looking to solve?
  • What pain points are they trying to relieve?

Dig deep and walk through the steps. What steps take place between your homepage and the conversion? Make a list, plot the course they are taking and look for any roadblocks. Remember that some actions will happen multiple times so be sure to consider how your user is retracing their steps– make sure they are able to go back without losing their way.

3. Test

Ultimately, please don’t forget to test. When you have the workflow mapped out, go back through the steps and think about how your website visitor is feeling as they move through the steps. Each time they take an action they will experience a feeling. Feelings pull them forward to take the next step. What are some feelings they may experience using your website? Relieved, curious, happy, hopeful, confident, excited, convinced… lots of different things you may want them to feel (or feelings you want them to avoid).

Then go on your website and take the steps. Is it working the way you want? Are you feeling relieved or frustrated? Are you feeling hopeful or discouraged? Are you feeling confident or suspicious? If you’re feeling it on your own website, imagine how your leads are feeling!

UX/UI for Small Business

If you want to know how to improve a website, user experience strategy and UI design could be the solution you’re looking for. At the end of the day, buyers want to feel good about the products and services they choose. So businesses that strive to prioritize what the customer wants above all else will often be the brand that wins the most business in the end.

We would love to help you audit, assess, test, and improve your website or mobile app using intuitive UX and UI design best practices. Contact us today for more information about our small business web design packages and stay tuned for our next post that delves deeper into the world of UX strategy and UI design.

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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