In my experience, companies routinely under-explain what they offer, why it matters, and how it’s useful. This is typically seen as self-explanatory but rarely is. Any noise, fog, lack of clarity and general frustration in the user experience of what you offer is a detriment to your success.
Start with the Basics
If you have a good idea, the first step in marketing your product or service to the right audience is in letting them know that it exists, what it is and why they would benefit from it. This sounds elementary but is so often overlooked, I am compelled to emphasize its importance.
What a company usually thinks the audience relationship looks like is this
But the reality is often this
And what we need to see is this
So What is User Experience Anyway and Why Do I Care?
User Experience (U/X) is everything people experience when they use your product or service, as well as all they experience when they interact with your brand — from your website layout and function to how your customer service phone system is set up to how well your support department interacts with them.
In the age of information overload, if you can help make someone’s day less annoying and not waste their time *and* you offer a useful product or service, you have established valuable social credit, customer loyalty, and made the world a little better today.
If you’re beginning to see why this matters, you’ve probably experienced an annoyingly clunky online shopping cart or confusing website or terrible customer service. Think of the worst experience you’ve had in these ways. Now we want to make what you offer the polar opposite of that horror – a seamless, enjoyable, clear, respectful, engaging interaction that leaves your audience happy. The returns on offering an experience of this nature are exponential to your business’ success.
Where Do I Start?
Consistency in user experience across all the ways you communicate about what you offer and with your audience is what we’re striving for here. In the age of information overload, if you can help make someone’s day less annoying and not waste their time *and* you offer a useful product or service, you have established valuable social credit, customer loyalty, and made the world a little better today. Go, you.
Start with a full systems audit. That just means go take a look at how you’re saying what you’re saying to your audience as though you were the audience. Approach your website like you’re visiting for the first time. Where does it get confusing? Where is there one more step than is convenient? Where is the checkout system kind of dumb? Make a list.
Call your own phone service. Is the hold music annoying? Are you sharing a marketing message on repeat, driving potential or existing customers crazy while they wait? There’s not a person on the planet that likes listening to a broken record. Make it stop. Do you feel respected when you interface with your own company by all the systems you use? If you do, you’re on the right path. If you don’t, change them as soon as possible.
Your best barometer is how the experience of using these makes you feel. It’s going to have a similar effect on others. Adjusting for minor cultural differences, these are still pretty universal. Does that photo make you feel blah? It’s not a good representation of your company. Does that color make you want to look at something, anything, else? You need new colors. Does your text explain what you offer? Does it make people feel smart or stupid?
Next, make a list of everything that you love about how you offer what you offer. That convenient one-click shopping cart is amazing. Offering multiple forms of payment is great. That homepage image is totally inspiring. I love my mission statement. Being able to share this to multiple social media sites is a nice touch. We want to build upon what’s working and bring all the rest of it up to this standard.
If You’re an Entrepreneur, You’re Already a Success
The business of business isn’t easy. It’s thankless and tiring and exciting over and over again. Taking a second look is a natural step in growing your business to the next level, and no one catches all those little user experience pitfalls the first time. That’s why even the big names are constantly offering new versions of their old products (looking at you, smartphones). Don’t expect to bring all systems up to optimal overnight, but do yourself the favor of recognizing where there’s room for improvement and beginning the ongoing process of making those changes. You got this and your customers will thank you.
Let me know if you need guidance in these ways. I’m cheering for you as you make the world a little less annoying, one click at a time.
P.S. Free tip — turn off your pop-up E-news signup. These are a scourge on the entirety of the U/X of the Internet. Just put a link at the bottom of that compelling article so engaged readers can subscribe after they love what they read.