How Data and User Analytics Influence UX Design

How Data and User Analytics Influence UX Design from UIGarage
Philippe Hong

Updated on January 17, 2017

At its heart, design is about communication. You, as the artist, are able to take an abstract concept and explain it in a way that’s visual and visceral. You can translate a mood or a brand’s voice just by color selection or button choice. That’s pretty cool. As a UX designer, you must rely on user data to create a successful experience. To truly communicate with the user, you need to track down the breadcrumbs of data that they leave behind. Doing this will help you create a more compelling design. It’s all about data. Think: metrics and demographics. Yep, good old numbers and statistics– the stuff that you probably hated in school– can actually help you design a better user experience. In this post, let’s discuss how data can guide you to your most successful UX design yet.

Know the Client

What do you know about the client? Don’t just stop at their “About Us” page. That’s basically fluff content, anyway– and it really won’t help you create a strong UX design. Get into the deeper concepts of what they want. For example, do they want more sales or more authority? Every client has an objective. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what their true objective is. And sometimes it will feel like mission impossible. That’s because a lot of clients see other designs that they want to copy that may or may not fit in with their overall objective. It’s your most important task to figure out what they truly want to do objective-wise, and how you can help them do it. Although looks do matter in UX design, it’s less about looks and more about function. To find the right function for your design, you’ll have to get really cozy with looking at hard statistics. Look at any data you can get your hands on– from their website to their social media channels. Ask (and definitely get the answer to) these questions: Who visits their site? Focus on the basic demographics here, such as age, gender, location. You need to get a feel for the end user, and this statistical data can show you who they are and help guide your UX design. What is typical behavior on their site? How does the user behave on the site or within your design? What is their current bounce rate? The bounce rate is one of the best metrics you can ever use as a UX designer. It shows you whether or not visitors are enjoying their experience on your site. You can also use bounce rate as a key performance indicator (or KPI). Other KPIs include:
  • How many visits the site receives
  • What percentage of those visits are new
  • The average time spent on each page
  • The average visit duration across all pages
  • The exit rate

Know the End User

Don’t get carried away with appeasing the client. Sometimes, the client wants things that their users don’t want and vice versa. I’m not going to sugar coat this– it can be a challenge when you know more about the end user than the client does. It definitely happens. If you can make the client’s client happy (i.e. solve the end user’s problem as quickly as possible), you’ll make the client happy, too. So, worry more about how the end user will interact with your design. Here’s what you need to know: Who the end user is – By all means, use the information that the client provides for you, but do your research, too. Use social listening tools (like Sprout Social) to find out what’s being said about the brand or their competitors. What the end user wants – What is the ultimate goal of this user? He or she wants to get from point a to point b in as few steps as human possible. If you’re dealing with multiple user groups, how do you guide each user to their destination without overwhelming them with choices? How much the end user knows – Is the user able to navigate your design? Will the design feel intuitive to them or will they not understand what to do next?
A/B testing doesn’t sound sexy, but it provides an incredible amount of data that you can use to improve your designs.

Start Here:

Let’s discuss the tools and action you should take to start learning more about your users.  One of the tools we’ll discuss below is actually free, and all will help to demystify how users actually interact with your design. Conduct A/B Testing A/B testing doesn’t sound sexy, but it provides an incredible amount of data that you can use to improve your designs. If you’ve never heard of A/B testing, the concept is simple: you create two designs that are nearly identical except for one element. That element could be the photo, the font size, the color palette, the button position, etc. To create and implement A/B testing, check out any of the following:  

Enlist User Testing

Your design should get the end user what they want. The user enters with a problem. You guide them to the solution. Bam! You’re golden. But I don’t recommend waiting until after your design is “complete” to test. First of all, is design ever complete? And secondly, you should do non-stop user testing– before going public with your design, after you’ve gone live, and continuously after with the help of A/B testing to make sure that you’re still communicating well with the end users. For live user feedback, I recommend Usabilla. This tool allows you to record visitor activity, solicit live, visual feedback, and target specific individuals for surveys. Two other great options include:  

Know What You Do Best

Every UX designer has a specialty, and you’re no different. What do you excel at? If you’re not sure, it’s time to look at your own data over previous projects to determine which features seem to resonate best with your clients. Finding what you do best can help you score jobs in the future that align with your unique skills.

Over to You

How has data helped your UX design? Let us know in the comments below!