User experience is a term that has been floating around all sorts of industries for years. As sales and marketing standards change to accommodate more digitally-focused strategies, we must periodically reconsider concepts like user experience and redefine the role these concepts play in our day-to-day operations.
So what is user experience in the modern sense of the term? To start, it’s mostly digital. The majority of modern engagement occurs between customers and websites. The websites exist to tell the company’s story and provide customers with whatever resources they need to move a step closer to purchasing the product.
User Experience vs. Usability
These two concepts are often used interchangeably, but there’s a key difference that sets them apart:
Usability refers to ease of use. It’s about removing any barriers in the customer’s way and making their experience with your website intuitive and seamless. It’s an incredibly important aspect of the user experience, except it’s a bit smaller in scope.
User experience is more of an involved process. It’s about the way a person feels when they navigate your website. It’s their emotional response to the sum of your brand, your products, your design, and everyone they interact with at your company. It’s a difficult concept to define, but you know it when you see it.
As an example, let’s consider a user who isn’t a customer at all. A young person is entering the workforce, and they want to find a job at a manufacturing company. Since they were raised in the Information Age, they’ll do 100% of their job searching online. They’ll search for manufacturing jobs in their area, and they’ll find a ton of companies scrambling to replace an aging workforce. Now is when the user experience begins to play a role.
As they apply to various sites, this young worker will read the “About” page of each business. They’ll glean what they can about company culture while subconsciously judging the design and layout of each site. They’ll experience small periods of annoyance, and perhaps even abandon an application if it proves too frustrating or time-consuming to complete. Once they’ve submitted a number of applications, they’ll take note of how long it takes to hear back. And when they do hear back, they’ll consider the value of their interaction with whoever they spoke with.
While each of these steps in the user experience process may not seem too important, even a single breakdown could disqualify a manufacturer from missing out on a valuable employee. And as workers (and customers) increasingly depend on the Internet as a source of information, their standards for user experience will continue to rise.