How to Approach UX Design as a Small Business

User experience design is changing the way consumers interact with brands. Essentially, UX can refer to any specific aspect of the buyer’s journey (both online and offline), but in this article, we’ll be focusing specifically on website UX. 

Your website is the face of your brand and an essential touchpoint, which is why UX design is vital to digital marketing. Everything from site speed to meticulous UI design plays a part in optimizing the user experience and ultimately driving conversions. 

Whether you’re trying to improve your website or having it built from scratch, tackling UX may seem daunting when you don’t have the manpower and resources of bigger companies. But it’s no use putting it off, as this is one of the most important things you need to do to remain competitive and take your business a step further.  

Rest easy, because we’re here to clear up some common concerns and give you the most helpful tips for a successful collaboration. 

Learn to communicate with the designers

Depending on whether you’re crafting a new site or looking to improve an existing one, you’ll either work with a web design team that encompasses UX or hire a UX designer to help the overhaul. Either way, you’ll need to work with professionals – and the success of this endeavour will largely depend on your ability to communicate with them.  

Don’t hesitate to ask them to explain to you any bit of jargon and abbreviations you don’t understand. You want to establish a respectful and open dialogue with them, where you’ll be able to express your ideas and concerns, as well as listen to their suggestions and get to know their process. That way, they’ll be able to understand your goals and the nuances of your business, and you’ll be able to entrust this project to them. 

In other words, you’ll need to find a common language and learn a bit from each other so that they can create a product that will work well for your audience and brand. You might find a sketchpad helpful in this process – pencil and paper still work best, and they can help you express your ideas for the website more comprehensively.  

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

UX designers know this part already. It’s up to the employer (that’s you) to understand it as well, which kind of brings us back to the communication topic. 

The designer will stick to certain principles and practices that help ensure intuitive navigation, faster loading speed, and other facets of positive user experience. Without question, they’ll avoid the biggest web design blunders, and they’ll make sure not to implement any design decision that compromises usability. 

What we often see happening in these types of collaborations is designers having to convince employers that a given idea will, indeed, compromise usability and certainly won’t work the way they’ve imagined. Some things are proven to work, and if the designer tells you that it’s better left unchanged, they’re probably right. Nobody says you have to blindly agree to everything the designer says – just ask them to help you understand the why and how.

If you’re insistent on convincing the professionals that they’re wrong, you’ll be wasting everyone’s time and imposing unnecessary complexity on the project. In the end, you might get just what you’ve wanted – and then you’ll have to see for yourself that they were right. 

Learn from the big guys

Big businesses invest considerable sums into UX design, and you can be sure they’re doing it right. Sifting through their websites, as well as the websites of your competitors, can be an excellent starting point to help you come up with some ideas and establish which elements you want to focus on. It helps to know what the others are doing, what’s working for them, and which features you would or would not like to see on your own site. 

Take your main competitors and the biggest brands in your line of business, and then spend some time using their websites. Website Inspiration is an incredibly helpful – and free – tool you can use in your research. You can search business websites by keyword or sector, and the great thing about it is that it shows you previous versions of a site. That will help you see how they have improved over time and learn directly from them. 

Find out what’s your most popular feature

If you’re refurbishing an existing website, you’ll want to know how people are currently using it. Which section of your site or product is the most popular? Understanding how people use your website and which parts interest them the most will give you incredible insight and direction for this project. It’s really helpful if you bring this kind of knowledge to your first brainstorming session with the UX designer. 

Don’t worry – it’s way easier than you might expect. This is where heatmaps will come in handy to give you plenty of insights on user behaviour. You can use Smartlook – another free tool – to track how people navigate pages on your site and pinpoint which features are the most popular. Then the designer can come up with solutions that will centre the navigation around these features, as well as utilize them to encourage the user to take the desired action. 

Focus on CRO

Speaking of encouraging users to take a specific action – remember, driving conversions is the underlying goal of every design decision. Learn to observe your website from this point of view, and you’ll find the entire process will feel much more direct and focused.

It’s not only your landing page copy or the design of the CTA buttons that’s crucial to CRO (conversion rate optimization). Everything from the logical flow of the navigation system to the choice of colours and fonts will also impact conversions. Altogether, these elements will make a coherent system that’s able to guide the visitor’s attention intuitively, without any friction points. So when you’re talking with the designer about how you’d like your site to look and feel, pay attention to their thoughts on how specific design decisions are supposed to reflect on conversions. 

Final words

As the focus shifts heavily to the customers’ behaviours, needs, and desires, modern-day businesses strive to better understand their target market and provide a seamless experience throughout all the stages of the customer journey. A large portion of this journey takes place on your website, which means that you’re opening the doors to incredible opportunities by taking on website UX. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you start off on the right foot with the project, but remember that UX is not a set-and-forget endeavour. The design process entails testing iterations, but you’ll also need to keep track of how your website is being used once the project is completed. As time passes, you’ll find there might be room for improvement to make sure you’re offering your visitors the best experience possible.

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