Why User Experience is Important

By Madison Taylor
August 1, 2023
Two people collaborating

UX is how you customize the experience of your users from the moment they discover your brand to the moment they make a purchase — and beyond. In today’s competitive world, it’s not enough to have a good product — you have to provide a superior experience, too.

According to Forrester, every dollar invested in UX brings in $100 in return. The top companies in UX outperformed the S&P 500 by 35 percent, and 70 percent of customers are willing to abandon a purchase thanks to poor user experience. Moreover, slow-loading websites cost retailers more than $2 billion in lost sales every year.

We live in a world of unprecedented choice and variety, but that can be a double-edged sword. For the end-user, it means they’re no longer limited to one or two options based on what’s affordable or nearby. But for businesses, it means that it’s harder than ever to make your brand known among the competition.

As a result, users have grown impatient. If a user is looking for a running shoe and clicks on the first website in the search results, only to find that they can’t actually make a purchase on the site, they’re not going to stick around and find another way. Instead, they’ll jump ship and find the next best, more efficient option.

What this means is that your product, brand, website, app, and every other interaction that your end-users have with your product will need to be as helpful as possible. You need to answer every question your customers have, even if they don’t know they have them. You should guide them toward the information they want, toward making a purchase, or toward getting the help they need.

Guidance to effectively adjust UX design can come from analytical data and metrics; use them to figure out how your customers roam around your pages. This kind of information can be extremely informative when updating your UX design on your website and social pages.

In short, UX is important because it fulfills the user’s needs. Doing so creates positive experiences, loyal customers, and business success.

History of UX

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are used so often together that many people think of them as nearly interchangeable, but the distinction between the two is actually very important. While the two interact and play off one another, they fulfill very different purposes in the software and web development world. In the abstract, UX is a way of designing a product that considers the user first.

We tend to use UX in the digital sense, but it can be applied much more broadly than that. While working at Apple, cognitive scientist Don Norman coined the term “user experience” for his team. Norman’s use of the term at the time was interpreted differently than today. His nod to the term user experience has more to do with the focus on the user’s entire experience with the brand through the use of the product rather than just the focus on technological usability. Though the term goes back to the 1990s and inferred something a little different at the time, the whole concept of making things easy to use remains the same.

Even before the term was coined, many leaders and visionaries imagined an easily navigated, interconnected world created with the consumer at the forefront. In the 1950s, American industrial engineer Henry Dreyfuss was renowned for designing and improving the usability of some popular consumer products of his time. His design philosophy was based on designing for people, which inspired the title of his 1955 book Designing for People, where he shared his passionate stance on the concept.

Walt Disney was known for his desire to create innovative, immersive experiences for people even before technology allowed for UX conceptualization – indeed, his vision reached far beyond the capabilities of technology at the time.

Any consumer product, from a car to a sewing machine to a coffee machine, can focus on the experience of the user. However, UX is not focused on the visual elements of a product — that’s the realm of user interface (UI). The overlap is obvious but not complete. The shape, color, and phrasing of a CTA on a website are matters of UI, while the fact that it exists in the first place belongs to UX.

The Future of UX Optimization

There was a time when the Internet was an afterthought for both businesses and consumers, but that time is long gone. The Internet is in constant use by the majority of the population all over the world.

According to Truelist.co, every $1 invested in UX results in a return of $100, but only 55% of companies are currently conducting any user experience testing. This means there’s certainly proof of UX’s effectiveness, but many companies aren’t using its capabilities beyond the initial design stage. Analyzing your UX is imperative when it comes to adjusting to current trends and shifting your UX to fit end-user behavior.

With popularity comes competition. There are more and more websites, software products, and apps every day, with wider and wider swaths of the population using them. They have so many options that they’re not going to stick around for a product that’s unintuitive, slow, or confusing — they’re going to leave and find something else.

That’s why the user experience is so important. You simply can’t have a digital presence that creates friction in guiding end-users toward a purchase. You have to think about the best possible experience for the user at every stage of the process, from the first moment they hear of you to when they make a purchase and beyond. It’s critical to stay vigilant when it comes to UX trends — shifts in user behavior are inevitable, and if you don’t design your site to complement those changes, you will feel the difference in lost opportunity. UX isn’t an exact science, but it’s an area you can’t afford to ignore.