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UX, or user experience, is a little tough to define (although we have a related blog that does just that). The best way to sum it up would be to say that UX is the "user experience" had by the user when interacting with the UI, which is short for "user interface." It requires more than just the usual “place an image here, some text there, and a link to the shopping cart” directives. UX focuses on a intimate understanding of the user, their needs, values, their abilities, and even their limitations. It defines a consumer’s quality of interaction and perception of a brand by creating a sense of engagement. It turns a website into a living entity.
Why focus on UX? Utilizing good UX takes the consumer and places them at the focal point of designing a website’s functions. UX's purpose is to offer the perception that the visited site or the app downloaded presents some sort of value to the user. If the app is messy, dysfunctional, or even boring to operate, then the user won’t keep it on their device; it provides no value and the only experience offered is a negative one. To a customer, that is a red flag. If your website or app doesn't work, is frustrating, or if it isn’t any fun (yes, fun is a factor!), then what kind of experience can they expect from a phone call or visit to your business? Bringing customers through the front door is highly dependent on a high-quality user experience with your online assets.
UX Fights for the User. What the user needs, what they value, their online abilities, and even their limitations all come into consideration when designing the perfect UX design. Take, for example, a community parish looking to build a modern website. What kind of experience should be designed for the parish's website? Does a church need an app? What are the limits of their users' abilities? A parish won't want to alienate their older members with visuals, animations, or interfaces that would be overwhelming. On the other hand, the website needs to offer an appeal that keeps younger visitors coming back and using the app. The UX for such a design needs to create a feeling of trust as well. It should speak to the language of the establishment and its visitors. While a community parish’s website is a far cry from a multi-million-dollar profit venture, the concepts that go into creating a positive user-based experience, regardless of scope, are the same. Don’t just give the user a flat, generic webpage with a few buttons and pictures. Give them something to absorb. If users receive this once, and they'll continue to come back!
But What About My Business? So how does this all pertain to your business? Your company plays a critical role in the design. It takes some work, though. Real work; the introspective kind. A good approach to developing a UX for your customer base is to define what the word “success” means to your company and work backward toward the user. This means defining your company’s vision and perspective. Hopefully, success has more meaning than dollar signs for your company. True success should be built on a foundation of trust between you and your client, pride in the product or service you offer, and pride in your own internal culture. How do your employees define success? What will an outstanding UX for your customers mean to your staff's everyday jobs? What complaints or concerns do they hear from your clients every day? What is the overall vision shared by you, your staff, and your customers about your business today, and for the future? We’ll stop asking questions now, but the point is that a great UX is derived from within your company culture.
So, what’s the take from all this? It’s that a good UX can change the entire outlook of your company’s online presence, and therefore your real-world presence. As graphics design continues to evolve in our technological society, emotion and interaction will become more and more of a necessity to distinguish your brand and convert the user experience into brand loyalty.
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