As the internet has grown in popularity, companies have had to pay closer attention to their websites’ overall performance to ensure they’re meeting the needs and expectations of their users. A poorly designed website can be a death knell for digital marketing campaigns, as customers are less likely to make a purchase or engage with online content when they have trouble navigating from page to page.
The need for greater website optimization has given rise to a new employment field called usability, which leverages web data analytics and audience research to make digital resources more accessible, efficient, and enjoyable for an organization’s target user groups. Considering close to nine of every 10 American adults use the internet regularly, per the Pew Research Center, it’s important for companies to distinguish how usability research can support their business goals and increase their profitability.
What is UX?
According to Usability.gov, user experience (UX) focuses on establishing “a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.” These concerns form the bedrock of modern web design, as they provide developers with a clear roadmap for building highly engaging websites and improving the quality of online interactions. While experts utilize a range of different models to conceptualize the user experience analysis process, many consider Peter Morville’s “UX honeycomb” to be the most straightforward. Morville outlines six key concerns that are essential for fostering meaningful and valuable user experiences, believing that websites’ functionality and provided information must be:
- Useful: Successful websites provide original and relevant content that fulfills a certain need.
- Usable: Navigation frameworks that are intuitive and easy to use keep customers engaged.
- Desirable: An organization’s website should align with its brand identity and evoke an emotional response.
- Findable: Consumers want to quickly locate the information they need, both onsite and offsite.
- Accessible: Companies must accommodate users with disabilities and limited tech experience.
- Credible: Online resources should promote transparency and build trust with customers.
What is UI?
User interface (UI) refers to a website’s screens, pages, and interactive elements that allow online visitors to interact with a company’s products and services, from navigation menus to download icons. Visual design also plays a significant role in UI planning and development, as selecting the wrong fonts, colors, and organizational structures can negatively affect a user’s overall browsing experience. For example, utilizing small fonts and large chunks of text may make it difficult for customers to read through service pages, especially if they have vision problems. Anticipating the needs and limitations of consumers is crucial, which is why user experience analysis is typically conducted during the early stages of a new website design or renovation project.
How UX and UI impact conversion rates
In many cases, a customer’s perception of a business can be positively or negatively shaped by their browsing experiences. Websites that are poorly designed can generate a lot of unnecessary frustration, which may prevent users from learning more about a company or following through on their purchases. On the other hand, intuitive and visually engaging websites can attract new users and encourage repeat visits from existing customers, creating an inviting digital environment and stimulating conversion rate growth.
Believe it or not, color plays an essential role in web development and design, as it can be used to influence users’ emotions, perceptions, and actions, according to a 2017 article from Adobe. Unlike the overt impact of page layouts and content quality, color schemes tend to operate on the unconscious level and can have a powerful psychological effect on the human brain. For example, adding a red border around a specific product image can foster a sense of importance or urgency, pushing customers to make a purchase they would have otherwise overlooked. Every color has its own traditional associations, though they often vary on a cultural basis, making careful audience research critical to a company’s online marketing success.
The role of web data analytics
Web data analytics provide developers with key insights into how their companies’ websites are performing, allowing them to diagnose and resolve issues that may inhibit online sales. According to a recent report from the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce retail sales in the U.S. reached an estimated $137.7 billion in the first quarter of 2019, which demonstrates the importance of effective website design and user experience initiatives. A business’s conversion rate and web analytics investments often go hand-in-hand, as a lack of data-driven insight can lead to costly inefficiencies and large-scale redevelopment projects that overlook a website’s primary flaws. Some of the common metrics web developers prioritize include:
- Website traffic
- Page views
- User interactions
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
- Exit pages
Analyzing these key performance indicators helps web designers identify UX and UI problems that act as barriers to a desired outcome, such as buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. But how do usability professionals turn data into tangible improvements?
What an MS in MIS can teach you about UX and web data analytics
If you’re interested in learning about how web analytics support the UX and UI development processes, consider enrolling in the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The MS in MIS program offers a unique curriculum that can help you understand the concepts and techniques usability professionals utilize to improve websites and convert visitors into customers. Students can explore important topics in desktop analytics, information systems and data science for business strategy through a concentration in IT Management, and gain valuable firsthand experience with the tools and technologies that are helping organizations connect with online audiences.
Learn more about how a master’s degree in management information systems, offered through the Collat School of Business, can enhance your existing career. Reach out to an enrollment advisor today.