Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When someone mentions the term user experience (UX) design to you, do you immediately think of screens and interfaces? Well, that’s part of it, but the subject matter goes way deeper than that. Implemented in the right way, it can even be mission-critical for your business.
In this potentially shaky economy, growth shouldn’t be your only mission. Consumer-driven value and the underlying goal to solve deep-rooted and complex user problems are what will stick. It will become necessary to identify the users’ needs before stepping into the market — which is where UX design comes in.
Whether you are selling digital products, physical products, services, platforms or anything else, ruthlessly focusing on your users (customers and potential customers) is not optional — it’s a necessity. It is the ultimate de-risker of failure and ensures you thrive even in tough times.
Related: How Much Should Entrepreneurs Care About User Experience?
Getting real about the term UX
Before understanding how UX design can supercharge your business, let’s set the stage on terminology. The term UX design refers to the practice of designing products, services, websites, apps and systems that are easy and enjoyable to use, but also bring measurable value to users and businesses.
Prior to actually pushing pixels or getting down to brass tacks, there’s an incredibly important research and analysis stage that should never be missed. Often referred to as UX research, this discipline involves studying and understanding the needs, behaviors and motivations of the people who will use the product, in order to inform and improve the design process.
Similar to the interplay between strategy and execution, UX research and its big brother UX design are becoming increasingly important for small businesses, as they can help you create products that better meet the needs of customers, leading to increased satisfaction, loyalty, retention and even bottom-line revenue growth.
Below are four ways how you can include UX in your business.
Related: User Experience Is the Most Important Metric You Aren’t Measuring
1. Shun the survey and try this instead
By now, you should know that the demographics of your customers are surface-level characterizations. Surveys also can be misleading, biased and shallow. It’s like a multiple-choice test, but you’re not including three extra choices which actually contain the right answer.
Instead, you want to use psychographics to help gain a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, preferences, motivations and pain points. This can predictably inform what you’re building and whether it will be successfully adopted.
Some of the most commonly used methods are interviews, contextual inquiries and diary studies. A decade ago, these may have been foreign in the world of entrepreneurship, but with the ubiquitous nature of tools available today, the effort to run these has significantly decreased, while still being extremely valuable.
If the creation of your entire business is based on anecdotes or personal plights you dealt with, rest assured you have not done enough homework on your users to be confident enough that you are solving the right problem in the first place.
2. Run user tests, but not the A/B kind
A/B testing has its place when you want to test one variable across hundreds or thousands of users. It will give some great directional guidance — but you still won’t know why someone was stuck on a particular page and/or what they were expecting.
Instead, try running user tests (sometimes called usability tests). This will better inform possible edits and changes you should make on your website because it is qualitative in nature and focuses on user goals and task success.
If you’ve never run a user test before, here’s what it can do for you:
- Records users’ interaction with your website, product or app to identify problems or areas for improvement through spoken feedback.
- Gains key insights into your customers’ expectations, comprehension and issues they face to make improvements before launching the final product.
Ideally, you would want to continuously run user tests from the earliest concept all the way to your finished product, as well as anytime you are going to have major changes or updates.
Related: Why User Experience Is Vital for Quality SEO
3. Measure user success, not NPS
If you’re using the net promoter score (NPS), don’t fret. They are a decent directional barometer, but don’t make it the only thing you measure. Just like the survey, it lacks context and remains at a surface level of true customer intentions. Some even consider it a vanity metric that only serves to give you a false sense of confidence, when in reality the needs of your users are barely being met.
It is better to pair NPS with other metrics such as the customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and customer effort score (CES). With CSAT, you want to ask questions about how satisfied the customer was with the product/service or how they would rate their experience with a certain tool, person or department. With CES, you measure a product or service’s ease of use to customers. It reflects the amount of effort a customer had to exert to use a product or service, find the information they needed or get an issue resolved.
When used all together, these metrics provide a 360-degree view of your customer’s experience so you can have a better gauge of the health of your business.
4. Create a user-centered journey map
At a high level, a journey map is the sequential steps that a user takes before, during and after their interactions with your brand. Unfortunately, most journey maps today are too focused on the interactions of someone solely with your business. This is important to include, but it’s only a subset of a user’s full experience when solving a problem.
- Are you including stages that led up to the point of them having their first interaction with your brand?
- What activities are they doing to solve their problem that has nothing to do with clicking your ad or visiting your landing page?
- What is the trigger that prompts them to start their journey of resolving a concern they have?
By looking at the superset of their experience, you can better understand what their underlying motivations are. This arms you with better language to use when attracting them into your funnel, website or ad. You will also get a clearer understanding of your exact positioning in the market and how you can create a niche space with untapped potential.
Related: The 5 Critical Components of a Great Customer Journey Map
Good UX means good business
The foundations of user experience and business strategy are tied at the hip, and for good reason. They can help businesses create products that are more intuitive, engaging and profitable. By using these practices, entrepreneurs can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can ultimately lead to greater success. Incorporating these best practices into your workflow will help meet your customers’ expectations so well that the design is virtually invisible — and highly effective.
5 Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker This Year
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The ability to speak publicly is a skill that everyone can use. From coaches to entrepreneurs and writers, anyone who wants to get out into the world to market what they do needs to be an effective speaker.
This article will discuss five ways to become a better public speaker — five methods for sharpening your raw talents to morph into a more effective communicator overall.
Related: This Is the One Thing You Need If You Want to Get Paid Speaking Gigs
1. Practice in different environments
This tip comes from an exercise that musicians sometimes use while practicing.
The idea is to see if you can replicate your performance no matter where you are. As a speaker, you will encounter all kinds of scenarios and audiences. You have surely had distractions around you, being in front of people with different interests, being under different lighting and noise conditions and more.
Practicing speaking in different environments will force you to get comfortable performing under all circumstances. Without the crutch of your favorite environment, you have to remember your lines and recall cues completely on your own.
Related: 4 Expert-Backed Strategies for Improving Your Communication Skills
2. Produce different kinds of ‘speaking’ content
Another tip for becoming a more well-rounded speaker is to produce a variety of speaking content. Speakers don’t always have to stand on a stage and talk to live audiences.
I create speaking content across many channels — from my website and blog to YouTube and my podcast series. I distribute audio and video recordings of my speeches to my clients and promote them on my social channels. I go live on Facebook and other platforms to speak directly to my audiences that way. You can do the same.
This variety isn’t by accident. Producing these different types of content in the digital space allows individuals to sharpen their speaking skills and reach larger audiences than they could in person.
3. Get active on audio platforms
Here’s a speaking tip that doesn’t involve performing as much as learning from what others are already doing: Get active on professional audio platforms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces to meet with like-minded individuals and discuss relevant topics.
Doing this lets you compare notes with industry counterparts while working on your speaking skills. You will endeavor to communicate with other business leaders and coaches from around the world and all different walks of life.
Related: The Role of Effective Communication in Entrepreneurial Success
4. Take every opportunity to speak
Speak to a group at every available opportunity. I used to wonder how I could speak to an audience when the professional invitations dried up for a bit, and the answer was local service groups.
Toastmasters International, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International and the Freemasons are all great examples of the types of organizations that not only perform good works for their local communities but also welcome speakers and presenters to deliver valuable information to their members.
I find chapters of these groups in many cities and towns that I visit. Having these groups near me allows me to cut down on my travel time and simply makes it more convenient to continue practicing speaking skills while also putting my abilities to good use for my community.
Not only will this help you with your skills at public speaking, but it’s a rewarding experience as well.
5. Work with a speaking coach
Finally, every speaker-in-training could benefit from working with a speaking coach or mentor. These professionals provide their clients with professional tips and feedback on everything from the words they’re using to how they’re delivering them to audiences.
Some speakers wonder why they can’t just rely on their friends and families to provide them with honest feedback, and there are some good reasons for not doing that. Family and friends are kind, but that’s exactly the problem. Speakers need the unrelenting honesty of professional coaches if they truly want to leave their bad habits behind and become stronger.
I hired a professional speaking coach to improve my skills, and I can attest that it pays dividends every single day in my career.
Related: Leading Speaking Coach Shares His Strategies To Get A Flood Of Clients From Webinars And Virtual Presentations
Communication is everything to professionals
Whether it’s in the world of business, non-profits or coaching, speaking effectively is vital to success. Communication means everything to professionals, and those who can’t tell others what they do and what they’re about can’t expect to get their visions too far off the ground.
I followed these five actionable tips for becoming a better speaker, and I came out on the other side as a communicator that I never even thought possible. You will do the same.
26% of U.S. Workers Would Rather Undergo a Root Canal Than Follow This Workplace Policy
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
According to a recent survey conducted by job site Monster, more than one in four (26%) U.S. workers would rather undergo a root canal procedure than work in their offices five days a week. Additionally, nearly two in five (38%) workers said they would quit a job that required just one day onsite. These staggering statistics reveal a clear shift in workers’ attitudes towards the traditional office environment, and companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees.
As a highly experienced expert in the field of hybrid work, I talk with 5 to 10 leaders every week about how to make hybrid work serve their needs well. I ask them what their top concern is, and most say it’s hiring and retaining talented staff.
External surveys say the same thing, such as this recent survey by Vistage of the leaders of small and medium-sized businesses. It found that 60% of SME CEOs are planning to increase headcount in the year ahead, with only 7% planning on reducing headcount. According to Vistage Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin, this is a significant shift from the trend of big companies making headlines with layoffs, as small and medium business CEOs are reluctant to lay off their hard-won new employees. One key reason for this shift is the recognition that hiring challenges are impacting the ability of these businesses to operate at full capacity. With 61% of CEOs saying that hiring challenges are a major concern for their ability to operate effectively at full capacity.
Given this information, I confidently tell the leaders whom I advise that the future of work is in a flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work. This model not only keeps workers happy and engaged, but it also has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.
Related: You Should Let Your Team Decide Their Approach to Hybrid Work. A Behavioral Economist Explains Why and How You Should Do It.
Increased productivity and employee engagement
One of the most significant benefits of a flexible hybrid work model is increased productivity and employee engagement. Studies have shown that remote workers tend to work more efficiently and are less likely to experience burnout. A mid-size IT services company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 20% increase in productivity among their remote workers.
Remote workers have the ability to create their own personalized work environment, which leads to an increase in productivity. They can work from a location that is most comfortable for them, whether that be their home, a coffee shop or a coworking space. This leads to a decrease in distractions and an increase in focus, resulting in a higher level of productivity.
Flexible working also has a positive impact on employee engagement. When employees have the ability to work in a way that suits them best, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. This leads to a decrease in turnover, and an increase in employee loyalty and job satisfaction.
Access to a wider talent pool
A flexible hybrid work model also allows companies to tap into a wider talent pool. When companies are not limited by geographical location, they can attract and retain the best talent from all over the world. A large financial services company that I worked with had difficulty finding qualified candidates in their local area, but by implementing a flexible working policy, they were able to hire top talent from other parts of the country.
A flexible working policy also allows for a more diverse workforce, as it can attract candidates who may have previously been excluded due to geographical constraints. This diversity leads to new perspectives, ideas and innovation.
Cost savings on talent
Flexible working can also lead to significant cost savings for companies. A flexible hybrid work model reduces the need for office space, and it can also lead to a reduction in absenteeism and turnover. A retail company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 30% reduction in absenteeism due to less workers taking sick days and a 20% reduction in turnover.
When employees have the ability to work from home, it leads to a reduction in absenteeism as they are less likely to be affected by things such as traffic, weather, or public transportation issues. This can also lead to a decrease in sick leave, and an increase in overall productivity.
Flexible working can also lead to a reduction in turnover, as employees are more likely to be satisfied and engaged in their work. This leads to a decrease in the cost of recruiting and training new employees.
Addressing cognitive biases
Cognitive biases can play a significant role in decision-making when it comes to flexible working. The status quo bias, for example, leads managers to resist change and stick to the traditional office environment. The sunk cost fallacy can also come into play, where managers may be reluctant to change the way things have always been done because they have invested so much time and resources into the current system. By being aware of these cognitive biases and actively working to overcome them, companies can make more informed and effective decisions about their working policies.
One way to overcome these biases is to gather data and conduct studies on the impact of flexible working on employee productivity, engagement, and turnover. This can provide concrete evidence to support the implementation of a flexible hybrid work model. Additionally, it is important for managers to actively seek out feedback from employees on their preferences for working arrangements and to consider their needs and concerns.
Implementing a flexible hybrid work model
Implementing a flexible hybrid work model can seem daunting, but with proper planning and communication, it can be done successfully. It is important to set clear guidelines and expectations for remote work, such as setting specific hours of availability and ensuring regular communication with team members.
It is also important to provide the necessary tools and resources for remote work, such as a reliable internet connection and a secure virtual communication platform. Providing training on hybrid work best practices and technology can also help to ensure a smooth transition, as can hiring a hybrid work consultant to guide your transition.
Related: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Is Right. New Employees Are Less Productive in a Hybrid Work Setting — But Why?
The shift in workers’ attitudes toward the traditional office environment is undeniable. Companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees. A flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work is the future for anyone who cares about worker retention, increased productivity, access to a wider talent pool, cost savings, and overcoming cognitive biases. The time for companies to implement this model is now. As a leader of a company, it’s important to recognize that the traditional office model may no longer be the best option for your employees or your business. By embracing a flexible hybrid work model, you can retain top talent, increase productivity and save costs. The future of work is here, and companies that adapt will be well-positioned for success.
Google Worker Laid Off While On Leave Caring For Sick Mom
One person who was laid off from Google in the company’s wave of staff cuts last week says he was on a leave from work taking care of his mother who is terminally ill with cancer.
Paul Baker was on leave for about a month when he received an email letting him know the company was laying him off, along with around 12,000 others, he told Insider.
“While on carer’s leave for my immediate family member’s terminal cancer, I too was laid off. After the initial shock, it morphed into sadness because I miss the people,” he also wrote on LinkedIn.
Related: More Than 1,600 Tech Workers Are Being Laid Off A Day On Average In 2023, According to a New Report
On Jan. 20, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees taking responsibility for hiring “for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”
Baker told Insider that he was on leave and was told by a friend about the layoffs, then found his work laptop had been “cut off,” the outlet wrote.
He was a video producer at Google, according to his LinkedIn, and had been at the company since 2018. Baker told Insider he was feeling “shock and sadness.” The outlet said it verified the leave period as well as his severance email and prior employment with Google.
Related: In a Viral TikTok, An Ex-YouTube Employee Talks About Getting Laid Off During a Business Trip
“I’ll truly miss it,” he said.
Baker also told the outlet he has not received information about how his severance package would be affected by the fact that he was on career leave to care for his mom.
Pichai said in the memo the company will provide “six months of healthcare, job placement services and immigration support for those affected.”
Still, he told Insider he would love to go back to the company.
“If there’s ever a Google position open for another video producer position, I would take it in a heartbeat,” he said.
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