Testing UX to understand what does your viewer actually experience


“After introducing community-suggestions on homepage design, ESPN.com  saw 35% jump in revenue, 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience, websites which load slowly generally cost retailers about £1.73bn in lost sales per year”…that’s some statistics on User Experience (UX). The recent years, filled with flourish of UX in the world of digital transformation is like the blind moments of falling in love.

UX is rarely ever about the numbers– the statistical expertise and technical how-to’s. If numbers is how you’re doing UX right now, then you are like a doctor who treats the symptoms without ever reaching the root cause of the disorder. Without knowing how human behaviour works, any strategy you cook up will only provide temporary relief and eventually revert back to the challenge of low UX numbers. If the UX on a site is down, then find out the root cause by digging deep into the thought process of your users.

Best Practices? Maybe not!

The most common guide to UX starts by giving the best practices for user experience. However, it is difficult to find a universal rule that can apply to experience of users, without taking into account the industry or the kind of user.

Most of the suggestions you will come across will sound like changing names on a diet chart blindly: replace the red CTA button with a green one, pour in more white spaces, have intuitive and elegant design. It is great if your proposal list is like a diet chart which syncs with how the mind of your user works, much like the diet chart should be in tune with body of the patient.

If you want to bring in customers, then take into account both the internal factors (the personality of your users) and the external factors (the situation/context where the action is being performed).

 User Experience: Myth vs Truth

Most of the UX action plans fail to take into account the two types of factors mentioned above. Professionals often trade off true understanding for quicker development. Here are four misconceptions in the UX world which could burden the professionals:

  1. Product description

Myth: It is widely believed that the probability of a consumer buying a product is directly proportional to the mentioned details about the product (technical specs, details and reviews). Push this a bit ahead and you get the prevailing UX mantra to carefully decorate your product descriptions to induce a “Confirm your Purchase” reaction. 

Truth: The above belief that a product description could move us to buy a product assumes that our purchases are objective decisions solely based on the information provided by the seller. However, most of the purchases we make are more closely related to our instincts, gut-feel and subconscious associations.

This is not to suggest that product information has no use. It might have a use but not necessarily in the direction you intended. A  recent study showed that customers were more likely to buy a product which only emphasized the image of product along with color and size.

Why does this happen? When you are designing a page, make sure you differentiate between the nice-to-have products and functional productions. While the latter are bought through carefully planned and thought-out decisions, the former are mostly a result of impulse or emotion. When you give excessive information about the nice-to-have’s, then the customer are forced to think about it, thus they have to rationalize their emotions and ask- Do I really need this? This reduces the probability of them buying the product.

  1. Creativity and innovation

Myth: Think out-of-the-box! Move mountains of fossilized traditions and create ground-breaking customer journeys on your website.

Truth: The above might be one of the strategies that make your customer feel foreign on your website. Our minds can store models of the world it encounters. This allows it to organize the way the world appears. This is like a series of blueprint for every move we make in our life: how to behave at home, as an employee, or the feeling one gets when playing with my dog and so on. Such mental models allow us to refine and carry new information in an organized manner.

Subconsciously, over the years, we have generated a mental model for the WWW. We have to create a feel for our website, how the homepage is supposed to look, the location of contact us. It is like creating a mental map to our home in our minds. Now, if you suddenly make changes to this map, then what will happen? The users will get lost. The warmth that comes with landing on a familiar pattern will vanish and the customers will be forced to make mental effort for learning about your website. Thus, when you are setting product or service pages, make sure they are created on the traditional lines, as they might be old but they are definitely young in our minds!

  1. Color

Myth: UX practices generally ask us to use a set of colors on the website. This assumes that we all have the same reaction to the colors. For instance, red is said to express urgency (so should be used on CTA buttons) while green is associated with greater sales (as it appears on dollars).

Truth: There is no absolute way in which colors affect the viewers. The effect of a color on a user will depend upon the meaning it has, for the user. Depending on the experiences we have had in the past, we associate emotions to colors. Thus, there is no set way to choose colors to use on your website. Choose the colors which expresses the message you wish to convey. Take into account the sense of your product and choose the color.

  1. Horizontal layout

Myth: Over the past years, we have moved from vertical column to horizontal rows for putting up the page content.

Truth: We generally identify objects through their shapes and mostly based on the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Consider the following image:



What do you see here? Usually the image is automatically interpreted as a square, than as four separate images put together. Thus, our brain tends to see the shape of an object as a whole and then begins to pick out the details in it. This has been deemed the Law of Closure by Gestalt. This law states that in cases where only parts of a shape are presented to us, our minds are inclined to finish them by mentally imagining the whole.

How does this affect your website designing? Generally, the horizontal box stands for closure, more appropriate for the bottom area of a page. A closed horizontal structure, when perceived, triggers the Law of Closure and we make up a complete closed figure. Thus, we tend to move away from the page, without collecting more information. Web psychologist Liraz Margalit, in her paper “Why you shouldn’t implement this new, trendy design on your website” showcases heatmaps to show how visitors are less involved in horizontal layouts in comparison to vertical ones.

  1. Autoplay video

Myth: When the user enters your page, start the video automatically. This will promote your content and also keep the user engaged.

Truth: Human beings crave control. This is a physiological property of human beings since their cave-times. When a user enters your website, let them have control of how the site works. Starting a video immediately is putting them off by telling them “We decide how things run around here”. Let them decide if they wish to watch the video.

Your mind is a digital-land!

Once you understand how your user is receiving your website, you will know the ways to engage them. Instead of making universal and absolute rules, you can create norms that would cater to a certain kind of website (depending on the potential customer profile, type of product). Let the mental model guide you through the land of your user’s mind! Contact us to know more about UX.

Related blogs:

5 damaging UX issues and their solutions

How does a good UX enhance your sales

Understanding User Experience (UX) better

Author : Sahana Rajan Date : 09 Jan 2017