An article by Fast Company recently went into the topic of what they're calling “quarantine UX”. The concept is that under quarantine, many services of convenience have become essential. Some of the boosts we've been seeing are in teleconferencing software tools, Instacart delivery services, meal kits, high tech intelligent products, and more. So with these new relevancies and new demands comes a struggle for companies to keep up. Companies have to be prepared to pivot and adapt to this new digital forward life. This places really great importance on UX. And essentially, it can make or break your business. 

 


Question

Hadley Hirsch: First and foremost, what is user experience?

Answer

Seth Viebrock: Well, user experience is really just the result of using a product or experience as far as the users’ affect and actions and overall emotional experience. But UX can be good or bad. And of course, we want good UX because that does great things for the users and, in turn, the business organization. There's a certain amount of empathy that goes into it, such as understanding the user so that you can produce a good UX, or understanding what bad UX is. There’s also a certain amount of design thinking or creativity and expertise in your execution. So there are ways to pull out information from users, whether it's in the form of surveys or in data from various platforms, so that you understand them, and that the solution you make is going to be good. You can't make a good solution without understanding your user and having some good, quality data about them.

 

Question

Hadley Hirsch: So UX has always been important, but we're definitely living in a new world with COVID-19 and this quarantine, everybody’s really going digital. So why is user experience so important now, enough so that there's now been this term coined “quarantine UX”?

Answer

Seth Viebrock: Of course, we want to do good things for the world and be there for people as much as we can. But also, there are real interactions that are changing, such as being used to touching a touch screen. Or the bathroom, the toilet. I've been to Japan so many times that you see the toilets that run automatically, and they automatically lift up. That's not a laughable thing anymore over here, it could become a new reality for how things work. So there’s that, and then how we use our homes. You know, our office is the doctor's office, or home office, or school, and you’re sitting in chairs more. Another thing I came across was just when wearing a mask to the pharmacy, and to present your ID, you have to lower your mask because you're using this paper ID. So that's probably going to be outdated, and we’ll move to smartphones. Speaking of smartphones, you raise it and expect it to recognize your face, but that doesn't work with a mask, at least current iterations as far as I've seen. So many things are changing, and we just have to adapt.

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Question

Hadley Hirsch: That's crazy to think of all the new technologies that are going to come out of this, but I think a lot of them really make sense. Businesses really do need to get ahead of this to stay highly competitive because everyone is trying to get the latest and the greatest technology to keep their business going, keep it profitable, keep them ahead of the game. Are there universal best practices or guidelines to follow, and tools that should be used to collect data on how to really improve their user experience?

Answer

Seth Viebrock: There are a lot of great things you can do. You can start with recognizing that some of your consumers are just totally different than they used to be, and not only as an aggregate, but also as segments. You know, some put on the brakes and stop everything, and are really panicking. Some are somewhere in between. And then some that are business as usual, or even overindulging on certain things. Recognizing that they're different from how they were a couple months ago, is step one. With that, there are tools to see how people are interacting with your product or your website. There are a variety of tools. Without getting into every single one, you just have to think, “Okay, as a principal, I need some sort of data,” such as where they're clicking on your website. You need to know where they're clicking, where they're scrolling, or where they're visually scanning. Or if it's a product, maybe it's surveys or focus group sessions, whatever it is, you need to be able to collect data. And that data, again, is not going to be the same as it was two months ago. So, now is the time to be investing in data collection and getting to know your users again, because they're not the same as they used to be.

 

Question

Hadley Hirsch: It's so interesting to see the human nature coming out of this, and people's desire to adapt, to survive and thrive. Some of these tools are absolutely fascinating and so futuristic. I think people will continue to rely on them. Let's say you're using one of these great tools, and you get some really great insights into your user, and then you implement those changes. Are those changes that you can implement yourself easily, or are they kind of highly technical? 

Answer:

Seth Viebrock: There’s a certain art and science to interpreting the data. You see that people aren't scrolling on a certain page. What does that mean, and why aren't they scrolling? Why aren't they figuring out how to use a certain feature. So there is some level of industry expertise, or knowledge, that you need in order to interpret that data. But with someone that is trained to help you interpret that data, you can certainly take that and go a very long way and make really critical, crucial changes to whatever it is that you're trying to improve the user experience for. So yes, and no. And of course, we can all use this time to learn more skills. If you're a DIY enthusiast, great. I would recommend using an industry expert first. But you learn some of these methods, some of these tools, and maybe you can take on some of that yourself as you go along. 

 

Question

Hadley Hirsch: How often should people be conducting these tests and checking back in with their users?

Answer

Seth Viebrock: It all depends on the size of your business, the traffic or volume of people using or purchasing your product, your customer lifetime value, average purchase price, all these things. The general answer is, don't stop. Every time you stop doing it for a long enough period of time, you have a compounding effect of decreased revenues, decreased success, decreased satisfaction. You can always optimize, you can always get better. Of course, you have to think about the resources you put in. But if everything is set up right, you can do the math so that you know your investment is going to gain a positive ROI. So again, it's just looking at the data, always pushing the lever, doing better as you go along.

 

Question

Hadley Hirsch: Having some true insights into your audience and your customers to guide those improvements would be great, but it does sound like a big investment of time. So is this worth it? Do you think that the importance of UX is going to stick around past quarantine?

Answer

Seth Viebrock: Absolutely. Quarantine or not, there is this thing called the CRM power law, for example. It's just a law that states that there's this compounding effect to optimizing whatever it is, generally user experience, and it’s highly related to your business revenues. Now, there are a few logical steps to get you there. It's related to customer satisfaction, all these metrics that ultimately bring success to your business. So if you stop now, your competitors are probably going to keep doing this during the recession. And those who do, are going to have a better product by the time that demand picks up. This thing is probably, very likely going to end. Now's the time to use some of your spare learning time to learn some of this stuff. Speak with an agency like us to just get ideas, not necessarily to even do the work. Folks like us just want to help right now. We want to help businesses succeed, and hopefully, our competitors and the industry do as well. We want to help each other out. So focus on UX because that's really focusing on your brand. Ultimately, everything I'm hearing is to focus on brand right now, because that'll take you through the long term.
 

Hadley Hirsch: I think that's so important to really create that customer loyalty that everyone's looking for. That's really what keeps you relevant. We do have a great eBook on how to pivot to adjust to this new environment, which you can download for free here. And we also have a really great video on our YouTube channel that actually shows our UX testing tools, how we use them, and how we gather those insights. We are happy to be a resource to anybody looking to kind of go into this very important UX realm. Whether it's just asking for strategic direction from us, or actually wanting us to handle it for you. We’re here.

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