Whether it’s online banking, sending a note to your doctor, or finding a caregiver for an ailing patient, web applications permeate our daily life. The pandemic moved offices into homes and many businesses onto the web, further integrating these applications into our daily routine. But some web apps are a cut above the rest. What makes them so? And how can we learn from these apps to improve our overall customer experience?
UX Features to Put You on the Map
UX, short for User Experience, determines how easy it is to interact with your application’s user interface (UI) content. A UX-focused interface design tells customers you care about their experience. Here are the most important ones to focus on:
Responsive Design – A web application has a user at one end, with a server at the other end, serving a webpage. Traditionally in the so-called client-server model, the application could afford to be device-agnostic. But given the prevalence of smartphones and tablets nowadays, a User Interface that adjusts content smoothly according to screen size is an important distinction that can lock in first impressions and dictate the time a user spends on your application.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI is the undeniable future of software. So why not start now? Choose from the myriad of AI services offered in the market today to build a product that stands out. Whether it’s intelligent searches, chatbots, smart email composition, or translations, there are many powerful AI services available for use today. These cool features equip users with tools that they didn’t know they needed, enriching their overall experience.
Third-Party Integrations – When you go to create an insurance quote online and enter your name and address, some websites display the list of cars that you own. A feature like this works due to their integration with a third-party service like the DMV. Third-party integrations offer an enhanced product appeal, giving users more than they expect.
Personalization – Customer loyalty research shows that winning new customers can be up to 20 times more expensive than retaining existing customers. To reduce the customer defection rate, companies need loyal users who love their products. The way to a user’s heart is through personalization. This goes hand-in-hand with analytics. By tracking user data, geolocation, and behavior, we can offer personalized product recommendations, more targeted landing pages, segmented marketing campaigns, or relevant follow-up email flows. Personalization gets the user to step out of their daily grind to notice that you do care.
Clarity – This is simple. When every feature in the application does what the user thinks it does, your user doesn’t abandon the session mid-way. A lot of work goes into making complex features easy to use, and that is where excellent UX design comes into play.
The Difference is Made Behind the Scenes
While UI is what one can see, it takes a lot more than UI to provide a flawless user experience. The vast majority of that work happens in the background.
Market Research and Product Development – Market research and product development can be viewed as the plot behind a novel or the blueprint behind a house. Product management captures ideas out of thin air and turns them into viable features. When these ideas are backed by interviews with end-users, collaboration with designers, and the creation of exhaustive mock-ups, your vision becomes focused, and the target audience will take notice.
Infrastructure – Infrastructure is the oxygen for your application. While it may be invisible to the user, they will notice if the air quality is bad. Choosing the right infrastructure is crucial, such as where and how to save your data, and whether to use home-grown servers or host from the cloud. From third-party software used for testing and code deployment to the technology stack your software team uses to develop your product, infrastructure decisions can make or break an application.
Data Analytics – Data analytics can be a critical tool to help you understand your business better, and also a feature that you can offer your customers to analyze their data. Using data analytics can help you see trends in how customers use your application, set project priorities based on usage, classify customers, and offer personalized experiences. It can also help lower costs by identifying and pursuing only successful or popular features.
Another interesting use of data analytics is to give your customers the ability to drill down into their data within your application. Business intelligence tools help users handle their data visualizations, making them self-sufficient.
Speed to Market – How long are your release cycles? How often do you introduce new and exciting features into production? How quickly do you perform and prioritize bug fixes? How do you advertise and manage downtime? An increased speed to market in releasing your software features, bolstered by supporting infrastructure can not only widen your customer base and improve customer retention, but also enable you to stay ahead of your competition by releasing features quickly.
Security – A secure application is a minimum requirement in the vulnerable world of the Internet. A robust authentication system, safe handling of user’s data, and strong defenses against malicious actors are invisible detail that customers take for granted. Features like email verification, two-factor authentication, and compliance with standards like GDPR will help boost user confidence and safeguard your application.
It takes a lot to build a web application that stands out – even more, to build one that leaves a lasting impact on your customers. But in the increasingly competitive world of technology, great things take time, and settling for less is never an option.
Sameera Rasuri has been in Software Engineering for 15 years and at MarcomCentral for roughly 10 years. Outside of work, she likes to go hiking and biking with her family. She also loves cooking, reading, and writing, preferably in the opposite order.