The introduction of the mobile device has had a tremendous impact on brands, society, and life. The biggest opportunity brands have today is to connect consumers with relevant and helpful experiences. Fully utilizing this opportunity can be achieved through a user-first design.
Designing experience for humans is essential, and the mobile experience is becoming (and in many cases, has already become) the norm. A user-first orientation is more important than channels as some traditional ad agencies would have you believe. Mobile is the main platform for searches and even online purchases. People spend more than 3.5 hours a day on their mobile devices. Fifty-three percent of users will leave a page if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Not only are people often choosing mobile over desktop experiences, but Google has also announced that they have begun switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites starting in March 2018 (after 1.5 years of experimentation). Google’s algorithms, following many core algorithm updates, now rank the pages of a site based on the content available on mobile. The snippets that appear on search results will come from the mobile version of a website. Another relevant change is that Google will use mobile content to make sense of structured data—machine-readable information that Googlebot utilizes in its knowledge graph and results in general. Now, with both Google and users prioritizing mobile because of it’s inherent user-first attributes, it is clear that that user-first design is the way of the future and needs to be your organization’s top priority.
Nobody wants a bad experience, but all too often we don’t offer our users what they want: best-in-class experience. We need internal alignment. It’s extremely important that we deliver what the user needs in a way that makes sense to them. Consumers think in values and outcomes. For example, a consumer thinks: “I need to complete task X,” which could be “I need to order a plane ticket.” It’s our job to make sure our UX is designed to make it as easy as possible for users to achieve their outcomes.
There are several barriers to prioritizing user-first design. Securing leadership buy-in may be one hurdle you are facing. Leaders have to be confident in their vision for their product. They need to know what they want to do and what their priorities are. Leadership buy-in is important because company leaders set the tone and might dismiss prioritizing user-first experience if they don’t understand its value.
A second obstacle to user-first design occurs when a company’s teams are so isolated in their silos that they do not harmonize with each other. When communication across silos is weak, teams can actually be at odds with each other in producing a user-first design, resulting in a less-than-stellar UX.
One more important hurdle is when a company has ambiguous goals. Teams need to work toward reaching and aligning on shared goals. KPIs should be formalized and should prioritize user-first design.
Product marketing helps translate user insights and narrative. Also, product marketing helps translate the technology and engineering in terms of how it comes to market. This helps prioritize making products relevant based on the company’s strategic objectives.
Another opportunity that will help prioritize a user-first focus is running more experiments and collecting more data. After running 460,000 experiments, Google made 3,600 improvements to Google Search. These improvements directly improved the user experience. Developing a culture of test and iterate is extremely important. Collecting shared data points drastically improves our understanding of user interactions before and after the changes.
Ultimately, it’s extremely important to keep the user’s needs in mind. Focus on understanding consumer expectations, what consumers are going through, and how you can help them in your own unique way.
Be resourceful: understand how factors are changing human behavior and learn about how technology is changing to meet people’s needs. Analyze this understanding in the context of what it means for your brand and how you’ll shape your UX moving forward.
Take the opportunity to focus on the long-run. To be successful, focus on what you bring to the table, because that’s how people are going to uniquely value you. Think about your past successes and your innate talents, and consider how they might help users meet their needs.
Balancing data with empathy is the key to developing user-first experiences. Companies need to take steps to verify that their mobile sites work flawlessly and respond to user needs. Prioritizing a user-first design will ensure that your company will grow with users’ changing needs.
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