In today’s fast-paced world, User Experience (UX) across any software development initiative is vital to a company’s success. A strong UX means smoother transitions to conversions — the ultimate goal of any business.

But where does a developer begin in creating the ultimate UX? At my software development firm, we focus on creating software that solves problems using a compelling user experience. So we began with a protocol to enrich UX across all of our software products.

The following are five tips that will help your software development company set a baseline for truly effective UX, which should influence customer experience to obtain that ultimate goal.

Create A User Persona

Before any kind of design begins, do some preliminary work and create a user persona. Never call a design complete if you don’t understand the target customer.

Begin by brainstorming and analyzing your target customers. Get all the basics covered with the major questions that top journalists use — who, what, when, where, why, and — most importantly, how.

As an example, before developing software for one of our larger pharmaceutical clients, we spent a considerable amount of time building a target customer persona based on what the most popular pharmaceuticals consumers were ordering, along with the steps they took to reach a conversion. From there, we polished the process to make it simpler, based on those users’ personas.

Eliminate Technical Issues

During software development, you must complete rigorous testing to eliminate all technical issues. Nothing slows a customer down more than a technical issue. According to a Kissmetrics report, 25% of visitors leave a website within four seconds due to slow load time, and page abandonment increases as load time increases.

Technical issues can destroy a business. So when developing software, be certain that all the bugs are worked out and operations run smoothly to ensure an optimal user experience. While working with one of our larger clients in the energy space, we found a number of technical issues in later stages of development. This created the need to revisit some earlier development stages to course correct. Luckily, our second reiteration was complete, the software was rid of bugs, and the UX experience was clean.

Focus On Quick Interaction

For a true customer-focused experience, quick interaction between the client and the software is a must, especially for things like purchases and registrations. The longer and more convoluted a process, the more quickly a potential customer will lose interest.

This was an issue for one of our clients in the financial space. The registration process involved many steps, including a text message or email with a code. Most people immediately lost interest and moved on. We tested a few iterations and were able to speed up the registration process by having everything completed in one step. This led to a 40% increase in registrations as well as more conversions.

Simplify Navigation

For optimal UX, make navigation as smooth as possible. Again, the ultimate goal is to reach conversions, and if people can’t easily find the information they need, they move on to something else.

Keep your navigation clear and simple, allowing users the easiest route towards the info they seek. Going back to the finance company, their initial navigation was cluttered with irrelevant categories and subcategories. We cleaned this up and made things simple, such as adding separate tabs for investing or banking. Think broadly, and let your navigation trek towards the most focused ideas.

Use Recognizable Icons And Explainable Paths

Be consistent. Have a printer function? Use a recognizable printer icon. Need to send someone to another page? Don’t just say “click here,” but explain where you are sending them (e.g., “visit our information page”).

While designing software for a real estate company, they wanted to brand themselves with dozens of unique icons. The idea of branding is always great, but some icons were downright confusing, such as the “back” or “read more” icons.

We advised against most of these, explaining the need to be recognizable. There’s absolutely no need to invent the proverbial wheel, especially with simple icons. This can frustrate a customer and distract from the goal at hand: to convert.

Software developed with user experience in mind creates a truly unique customer experience, which translates into smoother conversions. Every UX project will be different, but they will each benefit from utilizing these five tips as baselines for achieving the software’s ultimate goal — converting users into sustainable customers.

 

This article is published on Forbes.