If you want to truly understand your users’ needs, you have to start by listening to them and asking the right questions.
There’s a common saying in the world of UX (user experience) by the designer and writer Frank Chimero, according to which “People ignore design that ignores people”. And I would like to add – it’s impossible to be a good UX person if you don’t put your users first.
Chimero’s quote inspires me a lot, because in recent years, terms such as Product Designer and UX have become buzzwords. Some like to call themselves UX designers, while never talking to a user. The way I see it, if you have no connection with your users, you can’t be a UX designer.
At Wix, we talk with our users, a lot. Specifically at the UX team, we see ourselves as the evangelists of an excellent user experience. We’re in charge of ensuring that the functional, visual and behavioral parts of our product result in an experience that is good, intuitive, and easy to understand.
Being a UX designer at a user-obsessed company
Our first priority is to help our users succeed. Everything else is just an outcome of it.
There are many product companies out there that want their product to be useful for their users. Many companies focus on business goals only, with revenue or customer acquisition cost (CAC) as their primary KPI.
What makes Wix unique, is that user-obsession is our mentality. We measure our own success based on the success of our users. What it means for us, is that we need to provide them with the best ways to build their online presence and grow their business. We must ensure that our products are easy to use and help them achieve their goals.
To-date, we have 200 million users. It’s not just a number. Each one of them has different needs, motivations and challenges. And at the end of the day, our goal is to find the way to help them become even more successful.
The Power of Empathy
I started working at Wix 5 years ago, after being a UX designer at an international investment bank. When I considered the role at Wix, I knew that I wanted to make an impact on the product. Luckily, I found that Wix is a place where every opinion is listened to.
To this role, I also brought my diploma as a social worker, and I feel that this is a great bonus to the role of UX designer. Social workers focus on helping people overcome difficult challenges in their life. Studies helped me understand people better, advocate their needs and interests. Everything I do in UX is about people - empathy and listening to our users. When you know how to communicate with people, when you really look for their perspectives, you can truly understand your users’ needs.
To have empathy as a UX person means that you constantly need to look back and reflect on the feedback you get from users. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many users, and I remember some of those conversations to this day.
While you can’t solve everyone’s problems, you definitely need to care about each and every user.
And while UX best practices is something that can be learned, empathy is something that comes from the heart, and this is what we are looking for in the people working at our UX team.
Getting to the Bottom of Things
As a UX team, we realize that everything starts from a problem, and to be precise – from defining it correctly.
Defining a problem correctly starts with collecting feedback from users. There are many ways to collect user feedback: direct conversations, interviews and usability tests, support calls, feedback emails, discussions boards they write in, and more. We also can collect feedback about already existing things - for this we are running usability sessions. We let users try out our products and it helps us identify places where many of them struggle.
Sometimes we even use our own products to collect feedback. Wix Forum is a great example because it doesn’t only help us to be in touch with people who use forums in their daily life or business, but it also helps us to understand them better, from the user perspective of our product.
Since we can’t speak with every single user, we rely on data that gives us business insights, so we’re conducting many A/B tests on a daily basis. Quantitative data helps us understand the “what” part of the question. However, to understand the “why”, we have to talk with our users.
To reflect on the Five Whys Method – we need to get to the root cause of our users’ pains. For any given problem there can be many different solutions. If we ask “why” the first time, we’ll get an answer. But to understand the real issue we need to ask it at least 5 times (or as many as possible!). Since we’re talking about UX, it means we need to understand the true challenges and motivations of the user in the first place.
I’ll give an example. There was a time when we spoke with users of our Forum product, and understood that they are missing the option to group related postings. Asking “why” enough times led us to realize that grouping isn’t necessarily the best solution. We realized that there are other things that are missing, like the discoverability of the search bar, or an autocomplete function that automatically shows similar posts.
Don Norman, the director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego, once said that “Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible”.
There’s so much work and thought behind every single feature or screen we show our users, and hundreds of decisions being made. Making this effort truly invisible, is like art to me.
Over the years here at Wix I’ve met so many people from different countries and cultures, and it has been an eye opening and empowering experience. One of the things that I’ve learned, is that no matter how knowledgeable and experienced we are – the power of a good product is our users. To make really great products, we need to listen to them.
Dovydas Vyštartas, Head of UX, Wix Lithuania