by Tiffany Olejnik
posted on 11-03-2017
Right brain, meet left brain.
When I first started out in graphic design, design was conceptual. A successful design was all about art fundamentals and clear communication — aesthetics driven through the design principles of balance, shape, and color harmony. We’ve long passed that ideal since diving into user testing and data analytics in recent years. Design has evolved to be logic and insights-driven. Conforming to the latest popular design trends may keep your website’s experience on the “cutting edge” while adding delight, but if it’s not adding value for your users or driving revenue, the effort is all in vain. User testing is going to help you gather the right data to guide where you make your design decisions — whether you validate new ideas, or refine what already works.
Understanding the “user” in UX design.
Our optimization design process starts out as analyzing the user’s experience and understanding the context under which they consume content. Ideally, an improved design will have an impact towards what goals you may already have in mind — whether you’re looking to increase CTA clicks, promote a product, increase signups, or improve the checkout process funnel to drive sales.
We want to identify the shortcomings that are causing blockers in a user’s path:
- Is the content actually relevant to the user? We can create geo-targeted imagery or display suggested content.
- Does your user not complete a card application? There could be a lack of confidence and we need a way to build credibility and brand cohesion for the landing page.
- Is your user not reaching the call to action? We could tweak the design elements to draw more focus to a particular section or revisit content hierarchy.
If you feel there is still a disconnect in communication of your users’ goals, consider the possibility of using in-person usability testing prior to launching a campaign. There’s multiple directions your designer can take, but it all starts out with understanding your users.
If you’ve done testing before, it’s easy to start with leveraging past data and exploring established behavioral patterns for new ideas. If you’re new to UX testing and optimization, the first recommendation is typically to visit a “best practices” white paper someone wrote a while back. But what does this actually mean? There’s a bit of ambiguity about leveraging best practices. Is “best practices” in regards to usability? Accessibility? Performance, implementation, or even by industry? What works for one client may not work for another.
A heuristic evaluation can be a great start in tailoring your best practice guidance. This could help you discover that your site’s experience is quite different from other websites in the same industry — perhaps there is slow performance for mobile users, or there are accessibility issues for your target audience. Narrowing down the best opportunities for improvement can inspire where you can start making design changes and focus your first testing efforts.
Best practice documentation is a continual process built through your testing findings. Design has become an iterative process through hypothesis and validation by testing. There are no wrong answers. Using campaign data to track changes over time allows you to explore new design patterns and dig deeper into shortcomings rather than just prove who’s right and who’s wrong. As a result, you can continue to build out “Best Practices” in what you know is having an impact on your goals.
Logic vs. innovation.
You may want to take your design approach one step further with fresh ideas. How do you reconcile innovation with optimization? Is it really innovative design if it doesn’t help your user towards conversion? It takes a bold decision — and a bit of risk — to drive innovation, and instead you may find that your users are more drawn to previously familiar aspects. Creativity can happen before or after data collection. Design and experiment based on hypothesis, and then use testing and data for validation.
As we continue to feed more information into the data machine, we learn more about your site experience. Adobe can help you tailor your UX testing strategy to work towards making more informed design decisions that can quantify success through quantitative and qualitative metrics.