Bridging the Gap in Web User Experience

Tanvi Rao

During my early career, I worked on a web application development project. My team and I were late on couple of features and the release date was drawing close. The client had requested a few minor user interface (UI) changes related to the position of fields. I went ahead and made the updates which took me less than a day to complete. During our release feedback session, the client was appreciative of the UI changes and explained how it had resulted in drastic improvement in their overall productivity and efficiency.  

The client did not once mention that we did not deliver two of the major features they had requested, and how we were running late on them. I left the meeting baffled about why they were not as concerned. It got me thinking early on about how usability and user experience can transform a business. This inspired me to conduct research on usability and even pursue a degree in Human Computer Interaction.  

When we talk about usability, user experience and human computer interaction, there are several viewpoints or descriptions that come to mind.

Some commonly found descriptions of usability are:

  • Aesthetics, or the look and feel
  • How easy it is to use the system
  • The speed of the system response  
  • Overall performance
  • Accessibility

People tend to not think of the common metrics that can be used to define, measure or evaluate user experience in software development. Metrics are extremely useful in determining whether a user is having a positive experience on your website.

Even with the adoption of user experience (UX) in e-commerce, it is not as widely used in workplace application development. Integrating UX design is often regarded as expensive, time consuming and unimportant. Another misconception is the assumption that end users, customers or UX specialists are the main and only source of input on user experience.  

How do we bridge the gap?

  • Consider user centric design and user experience evaluation as integral and not separate branch from software engineering.
  • Provide necessary training and knowledge sharing on core UX principles and methodologies among development teams including developers, business analysts, product owners and quality assurance team members.
  • Create awareness breaking the myth that UX design and usability testing is expensive and time consuming.
  • Promote UX research in all phases of software lifecycle development right from the discovery and exploration stage to testing.

Building systems that consider UX concepts and methodologies have a significant impact on end user productivity, efficiency and satisfaction. In my experience, having a basic awareness of UX design and usability evaluation principles has improved my ability to gather requirements, develop reports and applications as well as validate systems. Implementing a UX approach can help you create enhanced experiences of your website for customers, an important goal for businesses everywhere.