Every day, most people in the Western world use some form of technology. Computers, smartphones, and tablets connect you to the Internet for almost everything now, from buying household items online to watching your favorite Netflix series, to getting directions to your friend’s party.
What most people don’t consider on a regular basis – if at all – is how they actually interact with these technologies. Sure, you know how to use them, but do you ever seriously stop and think how many clicks it took to get from A to B, and if there is a way to shorten that user journey? Do you think about how you have just interacted with the app or website you just used? This is known as user experience (UX) design, and recently it has become ubiquitous with the design of these examples of, plus every other, technology.
Studying the user’s experience with an interface is an important piece of the design process when it comes to tech. It allows creators and designers to thoroughly understand how people use their products and how to improve them. This is done through data collection and analysis of the user experience. Analysts study the statistical and algorithmic data to determine what works well, what the shortcomings are, and where some aspects just don’t work at all, making it a crucial field of study and necessary to the improvements of usability in tech.
One major benefit of studying data analytics for UX is that it makes the process of designing good, properly functional websites more efficient. The process would initially involve testing out multiple layouts and designs with different elements in different places to see what works best. Designers would try placing action buttons in different spots, for example, to see which place got the most clicks or conversions. Once the testing was done, the most successful design would be built fully and launched. Now, by analyzing data and using heatmaps, all of that information can be pre-determined and considered when designing the website at step one. Gone are the days of creating multiple layouts and designs for user experience testing when you can gather the data that already exists and integrate it into the design process.
It also helps designers and copywriters understand if any messaging changes are being understood or misunderstood by the people visiting the website or using the app. If new copy is implemented and you want to find out how effective the message is, you can use In-Page Analytics to see how many people click on which links. If the data shows fewer people than expected or wanted to click the link, it’s probably safe to assume the audience isn’t getting the message properly and not following the right user path. You can take this information back to the drawing board and make the necessary adjustments, then test it again to see if there have been any improvements.
Adapting the Design
Websites used to be less of an exact science and more of an art until data analytics and heatmaps began creeping into the field. Designers who used to be artists now have to understand more about the user experience and how the design can be used to solve problems or meet requirements. They have to understand how to read data analytics and apply it to their designs.
There’s a whole new category in the field being created for this exact role, but a lot of designers that have an interest in user experience or user interface design have also taken an interest in statistics and data analytics. If you’re a UX or UI designer with a degree already and feel the need to upgrade your education to match the expanding needs of the industry, you can get your MS in statistics online to help analyze data, and you can do it while you continue working so you can avoid a gap in salary. It isn’t a bad idea. Quantitative data is becoming increasingly valuable and significant part of usability and user experience design.
Boosts Technical Problem-Solving
Another major benefit is that it helps solve technical problems in addition to finding solutions for design issues. One good example of a technical problem is discovering which part of your website or app doesn’t function properly; for example, a page not loading correctly or a broken function on an app. If you aren’t regularly checking your website’s functionality, using analytics can be of service here. You can follow the trail of clicks to a dead end, perhaps, which gives you clues that something might not be quite right.
Another example of technical problem solving is determining if there are any navigational issues, and seeing if people are clicking on a link or not. If you notice a specific link isn’t being clicked, but others around it are, you can troubleshoot and see if the link is hidden, if the link text is confusing, or if the button is simply broken. Utilize the Event Pages report from Google Analytics, where you can customize your event categories to match the functions of your website. Now you can figure out what links people are clicking to complete certain actions, which actions people are actually taking, and if they drop off before completing any. If they do, you can dive in further to see where they drop off, and then figure out why. It could be as simple as a broken button, or as complex as rejigging the whole user journey to simplify and make it less confusing.
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and with it, industries are adapting and changing to match and keep up. Just as the industries demand experts keep on top of the changes and grow with them; consumers want their technology to be simple and easier to use as they get more complex. By studying and listening to your users, you can help guide their experiences, so they are positive every time and continue to use your apps or visit your website.
It isn’t enough to focus on the visual aspect of the gadget, website, or app. The functionality needs to be streamlined while being visually appealing. The more technology advances, the less the general population truly understands the nitty-gritty of how it works. Do you think an average Joe could explain how phone calls are made? Or how he can download files from the Cloud? Maybe he could answer in an abstract way, but probably not in a technical way. Generally, people don’t want to think about the overly technical jargon – they just want technology to work quickly and without any hassle. That’s why taking the time to study the user analytics could completely change the way your technology functions.