The term user experience, sometimes called UX, has been kicked around for a few years now but suddently seems, much like Chicken Man, to be everywhere. It is now apparently factored into the Google search algorithm. Web designers talk about it openly and often. Bloggers and website owners wonder if it applies to them; does it even matter?
But how does one really examine user experience. Isn't it different for each user? How can you make your website or blog suitable for all you visitors? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution?
Local User Experience
Let me use my own local experience to make the point. In town here we have several choices for grocery shopping. Four of them are Dillon's stores, part of the Kroger chain. I regularly shop in one of those stores.
- The big "super store" on 30th. street has the best selection by far. For me, though, the store is just too big. I walk with a cane and even pushing a cart around is a bit of an effort. There is just too much walking to get what I want.
- The store on 4th. street is off my radar. (Is there still a store on 4th. street?) I just never seem to be in that part of town.
- The store on Main street is closest and I shop there occasionally for convenience, but it is the smallest of the four and doesn't have many of the things I want. They will special order and, even though I arrange to take full cases on a regular order cycle I often get, "Oh yeah... I guess I forgot this month."
- So, I do most of my shopping at the 5th. street store. While large enough to stock most of what I like to have available, it's not so big as to be a problem for me. Green grocery is ample (I like to cook with fresh produce) and service is above average.
Online User Experience
Drawing upon my real-world experience I think it's save to suggest the following:
- Biggest, trying to serve everything to everyone, doesn't always work.
- Small, which should offer more personalized service, isn't always the answer either.
- Location matters in the real world but maybe not in the virtual realm.
But, in the end, delivering what the client wants, with commitment to good service, provides the best user experience.
If you know your target market you can deliver an experience that is broad enough to include everyone in that group but not so briad as to be overwhelming or watered down. Think it through. The online world isn't really all that different then the real world.
And remember, your clients ARE real. Deliver what the want and need. That is the best user experience!