Know Your Customer: An Insider’s Guide to UX

Ryan Leffel, Corra

Ryan Leffel, Corra

Author Bio

Ryan Leffel is the Sr. Director of Retail Strategy and Creative Services at Corra. His inherent passion for finding elegant solutions to complex organizational and design challenges led Ryan to earn a master’s degree in interactive design from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. After earning his degree, Ryan took on lead user experience roles at companies, including R/GA and Yahoo!, as well as freelance and consulting positions at start-ups and agencies, such as McGarry Bowen and PM Digital. With extensive experience in UX, research and transactional design, Ryan is responsible for helping clients define their commerce strategies, while ensuring business objectives and user needs are being met with ease.

As a user experience expert, I run into a fair amount of confusion about what UX actually means. Many people think creating a positive user experience means making something easy to use. While that’s true, UX is also equally about how something looks or feels. The key to a great UX lies in truly understanding your users.

Many retailers don’t have a full picture of who their customer is and what they ultimately need. How do they shop, where do they shop, and why are they shopping? Instead, brands often end up designing an ecommerce site for themselves, not for their users. It’s critical to remember that people who come to a website to shop don’t typically operate on an expert level. A customer is not going to use the site or channel the same way as the people who work for the brand.

How can you get to know your customer? When we work with a retailer, we utilize several methods to learn more. We may offer surveys on the website, perform user testing, facilitate focus groups, or even spend time at their retail location to talk to sales associates and observe how customers actually shop. Plenty of retailers don’t know they can leverage call center data or sales associates to gain valuable information through their people on the ground. Think about the data you may already have, and use it!

As you get to know your customers and begin designing your UX around their needs, also keep in mind that today’s consumers want to be able to shop or browse whenever they want, wherever they are. Whether it’s a responsive site or an m-site, any brand is going to want to have a mobile presence. We typically recommend responsive design because it offers advantages such as content management, SEO, and consistency. Apps can also play a big part as they offer the potential to engage customers in ways that websites can’t. But here again, it’s important to remember that while an app may be a good fit for some, it won’t be right for every brand.

People really like to talk about “best practices,” but with ecommerce, a best practice isn’t the same across the board. What’s right for one brand or vertical might not be right for another. The key is knowing who you are designing for and testing concepts with the consumers who will be a part of the ultimate user experience.

To learn more about Corra, visit their website.