Five tips to help your UX strategy deal with changing human behaviours

Every one of us is a consumer, and we’re all constantly shifting the dialogue with the brands that are trying to build loyalty and relationships with us.

The scenario

The power is very much in our hands. We’re better informed and more digitally savvy than ever before and this is only on the increase. You’ve only got to look at the number of babies still in their pushchairs, busily preoccupied and confidently swiping their parent’s mobile device to see what’s already happening around us. Sitting on the train on my regular morning commute, it’s almost frightening to see the speed of the average teenager swiping through multiple apps, flicking from Facebook, to Instagram, to online shopping to Spotify. But it’s hardly a surprise as we’re constantly bombarded with information. Contextual advertising is more sophisticated than ever. Our social feeds constantly evolve to track our every action, AI is quietly learning in the background and trying to predict our every move and even when we’re on a sure-fire path to purchase – reading one negative review might send us spiralling off in a completely new direction

The impact

The effect of this is that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and our behaviours are more erratic and can change in different scenarios and surroundings – for example browsing at the weekend with the luxury of extra time, versus trying to find something quickly during that 10 minute window on your lunch break can drive some very different expectations and demands; which makes it that much harder to predict user behaviours. Attention spans are even shorter when browsing mobile content, compared to on desktop, and these interactions are becoming even briefer, particularly with younger audiences. But more worryingly - the sum effect of this is that our loyalty and commitment to brands is also rapidly diminishing, because we more often than not want (and frankly in most situations can have) instant gratification. We demand only the best and we expect to have the things we want via the quickest and easiest route possible.

The challenge

This shift in attention span makes it even more difficult for UX designers and researchers to predict the behaviours of individuals when interacting with a website or digital product. The window of opportunity that brands have to engage with their customers is becoming smaller and smaller. They have one shot to capture their target audience before they’re gone and on to the next distraction. So focussing on your UX strategy has never been more important.

Our top tips

Whilst we don’t have a crystal ball to help pre-empt every possible scenario, we do have five tips to help you think more about the people behind the personas, and really drill down on a highly personal level to understand triggers and patterns, which can help you better shape your UX strategy and ultimately - your customers’ experience.
#1 Listen to your customers
We expect people to react in a certain way but as per the above, changing behaviours, distractions and rising levels of instant gratification are making these reactions ever more amorphous. So, it’s important to be constantly talking to and listening to customers to understand the emotional triggers behind their ever-changing wants and needs. This will help you to pre-emptively build as much flexibility as possible to accommodate this into the user experience.
#2 Don’t make assumptions
We were reminded of just how important this is on a recent project at Tangent. We were carrying out usability testing on some prototypes we’d built, to promote several services for our client. However, participants struggled not with the content, as we had expected, but with one of the more conventional navigation elements that we had expected to perform well. The lesson here is to never make any assumptions or take anything for granted, even around areas that have been successfully tested before on other prototypes or previous projects. In different scenarios and with different target audiences it’s possible to get a completely different outcome
#3 Relevancy is key
It might be stating the obvious, but be sure to test with your actual target audience, in other words – make sure your participants are relevant to the product or service that you’re testing. To put this into context, let’s use the analogy that you’re testing the buying journey for two groups of jewellery products, watches and necklaces. It’s important to test within each of these two groups: one group where participants are looking to buy a watch and the other with participants looking to buy a necklace. You cannot assume that they all have the same wants and needs just because they are all looking to buy jewellery. It’s tempting to use participants that maybe are not a 100% fit with the product, just to get the numbers, however, it’s quality over quantity!
#4 Content is king
Again, this is also about relevancy. We already know how impatient customers are, and that people tend to scan read online, so make sure your content is not only short and concise, but relevant too. For example, if you’re selling a product or service, then appreciate that not all your customers are at the same stage of the buying process. Some content will therefore require a more educational angle as opposed to a ‘sales’ approach.
#5 Iterate, test, repeat
And after all that investment in testing, it’s important to iterate and test again until you feel you have reached a point that is consistently achieving your target scores. But even then, once live, it’s critical to constantly monitor performance, and if necessary, iterate and test again.
Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. We can learn so much more from failures than if we were to breeze through, always creating perfect user experiences (in fact some of the greatest products we all use today came from a failed use case!). And remember, above all, no matter how much data and research is available, there’s no substitute for talking and listening to customers to help contribute to designing better and more adaptive user experiences.