Whether you’re planning an entire site redesign or you’re interested in improving the user experience of your website, you’ll probably find yourself partnering with a UX agency or a UX consultant to get the answers. UX research allows you to make data-driven decisions when making changes to the design of your website and marketing campaigns - that’s where UX consulting steps in.
If you’re starting a project with a UX consultant, there are a few must-haves you should ensure you receive. Before jumping in, here are some questions you should ask your UX agency throughout the process to get the most from it and to create a fantastic experience for your users.
1. Who is our target audience, and how are they interacting with the website?
Your UX consultant will likely begin with customer research to understand your target audience. After all, you can’t improve the user experience without first knowing who you are designing for and the problems your users are trying to solve.
UX consulting often includes the use of surveys, user interviews, interviews with stakeholders and website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to discover the primary tasks your users are trying to complete, as well as any pain points they are experiencing. At this stage, the UX consultant will be able to share this information using visual techniques, such as empathy mapping and personas.
When studying how users are interacting with a website, it’s important to put yourself in their mindset. To do this, UX professionals often utilize empathy maps to visualize what the user feels when they arrive at a website and use the site. This allows them to understand pain points and where users feel frustrated. Empathy map layouts can vary, but the maps we use consists of four sections:
Empathy maps will help give the UX agency and your team a new perspective as you discuss UX design improvements. Mapping out the users’ emotions is key to designing a website that is appropriate for your target audience.
2. What are some ways we can improve the user experience on our website?
While you want to make changes to your site that align with your target audience’s needs, there are often user experience best practices that can improve the website for every type of visitor. Your UX consultant will be able to share improvements you can make to your website that can help increase conversions and improve user satisfaction.
For example, if your pages load very slowly, this will lead to a poor user experience for every audience - not just your target audience. These types of improvements will be essential to resolve even before optimizing the experience for your specific customers.
Your UX consultant will also be able to help you determine which UX design trends to adopt that will improve the user experience and increase conversions and which could actually hurt the performance of your website based on their extensive research. While many business owners and marketers may want to apply the latest design trends to their sites, it’s better for you or your UX consultant to carefully examine which will actually improve the experience and increase conversions.
3. Through the UX consulting, how will we know the website and experience are working for real users?
After conducting the initial user research and providing a recommendation, your UX agency will likely recommend usability testing before implementing any changes. This can be done by creating a prototype or wireframe of the approved design and then testing the prototype with real users. At Blue Compass, we often test the new design with a panel of users that matches our clients’ target audience to determine its success. This way, we can address any remaining user pain points before the new design is launched. This saves time down the road, as it’s easier and quicker to modify a wireframe than a fully developed website.
Through user testing, we’ll learn if the target audience can easily navigate the website, complete their tasks and ultimately convert. If they can’t do these things, we’ll be able to determine where they’re getting off track and what we need to do next.
4. How do UX agencies measure success?
When you partner with a UX agency, you can expect that there will be benchmarks in place to measure the performance of any efforts. Many UX consultants utilize a data-driven approach so that they can measure the performance of improvements made to the website and throughout the process.
At Blue Compass, we often utilize website metrics, such as the bounce rate, pages per session, conversion rate and the average session duration, to measure the user experience on websites. These behavior metrics can indicate the success of user experience enhancements because when a user spends more time on your website, it’s likely an indication that they are finding relevant and useful information. If there is an increase in conversions, that is a clear indication that it’s easier for users to complete their tasks on your website - again, a sign of an improvement in user experience and the value of UX research.
If these metrics are not improving after UX design updates have been made, there should be a strategy in place to continue the research to discover a solution. Ongoing measurement is the only true way to know whether the UX recommendations are effective for your users.
5. What deliverables can I expect from a UX agency? What will we be able to do with the user data?
A good UX consultant or UX agency will ask a lot of questions before they get started. They’ll want to know what your end goal is, questions you are trying to answer and what you are hoping to gain from the analysis to determine the most effective research method. At this time, you’ll also likely discuss the scope of the project. Some projects may end with the UX team delivering the research results to you, and others could end with full recommendations and redesigns based on the research.
If you partner with a UX agency with an in-house team of designers, developers and content creators, you’ll have the option to end up with a deliverable that includes the initial research and design mockups that can even be developed and implemented on your website using one consistent team.
6. What other relevant consulting work does the UX agency have?
You should ensure the UX agency you chose has relevant experience to your UX concerns. Even if they haven’t encountered the exact problem, they should be able to show success in different situations where they helped a company by conducting thorough user research, providing data-driven recommendations and implemented the changes.
7. Are there other ways the UX agency can help improve your digital presence online?
If you work on a marketing team, you’ve probably dealt with user experience at some point. Whether you’re trying to get users to convert on a landing page or sign up for your newsletter, you’ve already thought about the user experience as you’ve updated the design or content on the page to be more compelling.
Similarly, UX is starting to overlap with other digital marketing tactics, such as SEO. Google’s addition of RankBrain included some behavior signals and user satisfaction as a ranking factor. Today, Google is paying more attention to how users interact with your website; for example, they’re monitoring whether users stay on the page for a long time, if they view multiple pages throughout their session and more. This means that having a good user experience (one that encourages users to view multiple pages and spend longer on the website or convert) can boost your SEO.
If Google sees that users are spending a lot of time on a page, that indicates that this is relevant, compelling content, so Google will likely improve this page’s ranking in the future. If a user is landing on your page and quickly leaving the site, this tells Google the content didn’t match their intent, indicating this page wasn’t a good fit for the keyword. This could cause Google to drop your page ranking for this keyword in the future.
This is another benefit of partnering with a UX agency that has an in-house SEO team. The team will be able to alert you to any UX recommendations that could impact SEO to enhance the value of the project in the long run.
Get End-to-End UX Solutions From the Digital Experts at Blue Compass
At Blue Compass, our focus is everything digital. Our team of UX specialists, designers, developers and digital marketing strategists provide a well-rounded solution for any problem your team has. Contact us today to learn how our team of UX consultants can spark new ideas to improve your website and boost conversions.