How to Improve and Evaluate UX

By Madison Taylor
August 1, 2023
Hand working on a physical website mockup

In the dynamic realm of digital design, there exists an imperative – the continuous enhancement of user experience (UX). The journey to attain exceptional UX is not a mere option but an essential voyage that delves into the intricate details of user interaction.

As the digital landscape evolves and user expectations evolve alongside it, a quality principle of UX remains resolute – to forge digital experiences that not only meet but exceed the expectations of our users. These are the tactics that help realize this principle in practice.

Usability Testing

User feedback is information collected from and about your users to see how they react to and interact with various aspects of your site and product. User feedback is one of the most useful pieces of information you have — it drives decision-making and planning by UX designers, researchers, web developers, and marketers to ensure the users have the best possible experience.

To gain insight into your site’s usability, try surveying groups of participants to test out the functionality and flow of your site. Though any feedback is good feedback, it’s important to recognize that these tests are slightly different than simply gaining customer feedback; a customer may be more likely to base their user experience on their customer experience with you, which wouldn’t be beneficial for this specific test. By surveying participants, you will gain feedback driven by observations of real end-users and their interactions with the design of your site.

Quantitative User Testing

Part of the reason that qualitative testing is so important is that it gives you context for quantitative testing that you do later. Let’s say you add a CTA at the bottom of a page that leads customers to a pricing sheet, thereby pushing them farther down the buyer’s journey toward a purchase. Of the people who click on that CTA, 10 percent go on to get a quote and become a sales-qualified lead.

But is 10 percent any good? It’s impossible to say without context. It’s possible that your UX is laid out perfectly and 10 percent is the best you could hope for, or it might be that the funnel isn’t intuitive enough, and you could be getting 30 percent conversion if you fixed it. Without asking your customers or A/B testing (more on that in a second), you won’t know whether you’re optimizing your users’ journey through the site.

So, what quantitative data should you be collecting? As with everything else, the answer is “it depends.” Every company and brand will find that certain KPIs correlate more strongly with sales than others, and it’ll be up to you to find out what those are. Here are a few to start with:

Task success rate: the percentage of correctly completed tasks by users. Tasks will vary, but as long as they have a clearly defined finishing point (like filling out a form to get a quote), you can collect data on the percentage of users that finish it.

Time on task: simply put, this is how long it takes for a user to complete a task. You might not know how long a task should take, but you can certainly judge whether the time on a task is getting longer or shorter.

Search vs. navigation: if you have a relatively simple site, you want people to be able to navigate to the page they want. If you have a complex e-commerce site, you want to ensure your search function gets people where they want to go. Tracking how people find the page they want can give you valuable information about your UX.

Error rate: if people consistently fill out forms incorrectly, it probably means you need to make the form more intuitive. Tracking the rate at which users commit mistakes can tell you where they need the most help.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is one of the best tools you have in your arsenal for finding out where your UX could use improvement.

The basic principle is simple: when users click on your site, they’re randomly served version A or version B. The user has no idea that there are two versions. You can then track, behind the scenes, whether the users who saw version A or version B did better at certain quantitative or qualitative metrics. If A wins, you make that the default version going forward and test something else.

There’s nothing you can’t test. The two versions could be completely identical except for one CTA’s wording or the lines’ spacing in your body copy. Alternatively, you could create two completely different landing pages that serve the same purpose and see which one gives you more leads. Some popular options for A/B testing might be:

Headlines: you want a headline that clearly communicates the purpose of the page and inspires people to keep reading. Testing long and short headlines, positive and negative, assertive and inquisitive, feature- and benefit-oriented, and so on can give you insights into what your customers like.

Layout: should the CTA be at the bottom or on the right? Should your hero image be above the headline or below it? Should your customer reviews be front and center or tucked to one side? A/B testing is a good way to find out.

Copy: don’t go overboard typing up two completely different versions of your site, but you can experiment with the tone, formality, and level of jargon in small blocks of copy to see which ones your users prefer.

CTAs: there’s endless debate over what a CTA should look like, so do some experimentation. Try different sizes, colors, copy, text vs. buttons, contrast, and location.

Forms: it’s easy to measure the conversion rate of a form, which means it’s easy to A/B test them, too. Try long forms with lots of fields of short forms with few fields but multiple pages. Play with the design, structure, and layout. Change which fields are required and which ones aren’t. Mix up the copy that invites people to the form in the first place.

Media: every site and piece of software will have a visual component, so experiment with what your users respond to. Try images vs. video, sound vs. silent, product- vs. benefit-based, autoplay or not, slideshows vs. static images, and so on.

UGC: user-generated content can be extremely useful in recruiting new users, so try putting reviews, testimonials, endorsements, influencer content, and media mentions on your page and seeing if they make a difference.

Examine Short Sessions: Session length is one of the most basic metrics for website or app usage. If someone comes to your page from an external link, lingers for 60 seconds, and leaves, you probably haven’t made any impression on them at all. The same goes for users who download an app, open it, and never come back. You might not know exactly what turned them away, but something definitely went wrong.

Using your analytics tools, you can start to tell where and why users are leaving. If users leave right after a big interstitial screen tells them to subscribe to your newsletter, that screen is probably the culprit. If users are getting all the way to checkout and balking when asked to register, you might want to consider adding a guest checkout option.

In some cases, you can even use a session recording tool to track the exact steps that people take between their initial visit and the end of their session. Look for correlations and patterns that might help you understand why people end their sessions and how you can get them to stick around longer. You can also compare successful sessions to find out what constitutes a good user experience, then try to guide other users in that direction.

Elevating User Experience through Strategic Evaluation

In today’s digital sphere, where user experience reigns supreme, optimizing your website or product is no longer a choice but a necessity. It’s a journey that involves understanding, refining, and perfecting every facet of your user’s interaction.

Throughout this guide, we’ve delved into the art of improving and evaluating user experience. We’ve explored the invaluable role of user feedback, the power of quantitative data, and the precision of A/B testing. We’ve also uncovered the significance of short sessions and how they offer insights into user behavior.

But this journey is far from over. User experience is a continuous endeavor. The digital landscape evolves, and user expectations shift. Your commitment to delivering exceptional experiences should evolve with them.

Remember, it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about how your design meets the needs of your users. By embracing these strategies and integrating them into your ongoing design process, you’re poised to create digital experiences that not only meet but exceed user expectations.