You might have heard the terms user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design thrown around a time or two, and I'm betting you didn't really understand what they mean. They're the kinds of terms that seem self-explanatory enough that you can follow along with a nod and a smile to get the job done. Let me help you out.
What do you mean UX?
The simplest definition of user experience design is this: the design of the whole process of purchasing, using, interacting with, and owning a product with the goal of creating pleasure in that process. It involves every single aspect of interaction a customer (or client) is going to have with your company, from your website and print media to phone calls, emails, text messages, social media, and, in the case of service companies, the on-site services you offer.
The term "user experience design" was created at Apple. Knowing that makes sense, doesn't it? When you think about Apple products you think about not just the physical product itself, but the process of purchasing the product, opening the box, turning that product on for the first time, reading the directions, setting it up, using it daily, the physical aesthetic of the product, the packaging, the people in the store, the design of the store, and the customer service that goes along with that. All of those pieces make up UX. And Apple does it well. They've created a cult-like emotional response in their customers.
This concept is often used when talking about tech products, but it's just as important for service companies. It is possible - and necessary - to consider your own customers' journey from the moment they become aware of your brand to the everyday interactions, direct or indirect, they're having with your company.
Okay, so what is UI?
User interface design tends toward the technology side of things. Though it lives under the umbrella of UX, its primary focus is optimizing the actual things you interact with. In our case, that's websites. A solid UI design will be as pretty as it is functional.
The pretty is the easy part. Is the interface pleasing to the eye? Does it clearly convey your brand and service in a way that creates a positive impression? The function requires a little more precision. Are your phone numbers obvious? Is it easy for users to find the buttons they need? How does it look on a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop?
While it might seem like the smallest component of the overall UX design process, it is one of the most important aspects of your business. Online, you only have seconds to make a positive impression on potential customers. If a font is unreadable or too small, if a phone number isn't clickable on mobile, or if a web form doesn't submit properly, a user is significantly more likely to move on to the next possibility, rather than taking the time to overcome those obstacles.
So, which should I focus on?
Without a doubt, as a business owner, your responsibility is UX. You control your customer service. You control your start-to-finish process. You can ensure your customers have a pleasurable experience when they call to schedule a treatment, and you can make sure they're satisfied when your technician treats their house. You control your pricing and specials to ensure they see value in your products. These things are the most important part of the process. If you're careful, thoughtful, and purposeful in your UX design, you can determine your customers' reactions to your company.
If this sounds familiar, it's because it's often discussed as customer experience, or CX. As markets - particularly in the home services industry - get more saturated with options, your most valuable asset and greatest competitive advantage is the experience you offer your customers.
Remember the Apple cult? Your only focus should be delivering that level of customer loyalty.
And what does Coalmarch focus on?
But because I work in the Web Services department, let's start with UI.
We create websites that reflect our clients' brand, expertise, and values. We love creating pretty design and pairing it with coherent content. We constantly assess the websites we build to make sure they function well, adjust what's not working, and add new functions to enhance the experience for our clients and their customers. That's our specialty. So when we say that a website is more than just a pretty face, we mean it.
But Coalmarch as a whole is much more than a website design agency. We can also help with the UX side of things. We're really good at helping you train your office staff to be more efficient with their responses to emails and phone calls. And we can help you train your technicians to be more knowledgeable about your services when they're on site. We can even provide tips on the intangible things that go into creating that customer pleasure (ask us about dog treats!).
In short, we're aiming to be the the Apple of your business's eye. (Get it?) So there it is - your primer on how techspeak applies to your business. If you have any questions, you know where to find us.