It's all about the journey: user experience is redefining business value
Maya Angelou once wrote, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' Her advice is great for connecting with other humans but she may as well have been describing the goals of the modern relationship between a business and its customers. Today, how users feel about a brand and how they feel when using its products is often the most critical component to its success.
User experience (UX) design is the study of that phenomenon. It is a vast and multidisciplinary field sprung from the area of human-computer interaction that takes a holistic approach to designing products and services. Its goal is to create the simplest, easiest designs based on the unique needs and wants of particular users. Great UX makes the process of acquiring a product as delightful as the product itself through intuitive systems.
And the delight of UX is redefining business value. It is no longer enough to offer a great product, the experience of acquiring it must also be streamlined. This user-based approach is no longer just a growing trend in the business world, it's a necessity. The best apps, websites and services have one key thing in common- they are easy to use. This ease promotes customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
Steve Kruger, a computer programmer and author of the book Don’t Make Me Think on human-computer interaction and web usability, explains that good user experience should only give customers essential information. Consider, for example, Uber and the way it guides you through the process of ordering a car, understanding the pricing, seeing the location of local drivers, and alerts them when their driver is approaching. You don’t need to know Uber’s tagline or the number of other people also waiting for rides right now. You only receive information that is directly and immediately relevant to you.
This seems obvious in many ways but it’s not how most product-focused companies have traditionally operated. In some settings, an interaction like this would be treated as an opportunity for self-promotion, an up-sell. But these companies are getting left behind by those that promote the priorities of the customer and are enjoying the benefits of retention that a nice experience brings.
These payoffs are not small ones. A report by Forrestor, showed that UX generated $100 for every dollar invested for an ROI of 9,900%. It should come as no surprise then that companies are looking to invest in UX as a continuous part of a long-term business strategy and hungry to fill roles with qualified candidates.
The demand for UX professionals is growing rapidly- especially in the US, Europe, and Australia. In 2019, Hired.com reported a 289% increase in requests for UX interviews. In an employee-market where demand outstrips supply, salaries in the field are also attractive. According to UK job search site Adzuna, UX salaries in London in 2019 were 43% above average.
“UX salaries are increasing year on year,” says Dara Boland, Principal UX Consultant at Morgan McKinley. “We expect this trend will continue. Because of the talent war, we often witness larger companies inflating mid level salaries to levels that can make other roles uncompetitive.”
So, companies are competing to find those with the right skills and experience, but what is that experience? As a highly multidisciplinary field, UX offers a broad scope of job functions and offers some unique opportunities for job seekers to unite a diversity of skill sets in one place. It can be a great option if you have a taste for the technical but also a passion for putting people first.
Empathy and understanding are enormous assets in the user experience design process and will help bridge the gap between humans and technology. Natural problem solvers will enjoy the daily challenge of interpreting information from many sources and translating it into something usable. If you want a career that allows you to be both creative and analytical, UX can be the ideal balance.
If you're interested in learning more about user experience and the user journey, you can choose to study the User Experience specialism, one of seven specialisms included in our BSc Computer Science degree. In this programme you will learn both the technical and theoretical aspects needed to create seamless user experiences and leave equipped to enter one of the most exciting fields in human-computer interaction.
Find out more about the BSc Computer Science degree.