In the brave new world of 2018, the question is no longer whether a business or organization has an online presence, but how it can make its user experience (UX) something truly special and a cut above the rest. Great visuals, interesting content, videos and interactive features all feed into the mix, but it is the means of delivery that can make or break the relationship between a site and its visitors.
The main conduit through which a user interacts with a website is through web based applications, and these can be more far-reaching and complex than they at first appear. Let’s take a look at some examples.
From the earliest days of home computing to the latest VR via smartphones, we have kidded ourselves about the seriousness and useful applications of our online technology. Yet there is one thing that has always been at its core, and that is gaming.
The second decade of the new millennium has seen gaming evolve into a leisure activity that is enjoyed by the masses, and gaming apps have had to move rapidly with the times. From kids playing candy crush to die hard gamblers enjoying all the realism of a live casino, the experience has to work faultlessly across multiple platforms, while employing flawless security, particularly where, on the one hand, there are children online and on the other, there are financial transactions that can be significant.
Gaming apps also need to embrace emerging technology. The casino example is a case in point – in a sector that is so highly competitive, aspects such as real time live games and virtual reality can provide an all-important competitive advantage.
E-commerce is increasingly a part of any business’s online presence, and everything from a pizza to car insurance to SEO services can be bought online.
The latest e-commerce apps provide full functionality to users across all platforms – in other words, buyers can make their purchases from any device, and will have exactly the same user experience.
Unlike gaming apps, where there are new arrivals appearing on the scene practically every day, the world of payment apps is a tougher one for new entrants to crack. This is for psychological as opposed to technological reasons. Users are naturally cautious when it comes to giving out their financial details, and e-commerce sites know that if they see a familiar name like PayPal or Google Wallet, they are more likely to close the deal.
Given the natural suspicion and reluctance that people have when it comes to divulging financial information online, it might come as a surprise that banking apps are as popular as they are. This serves as a perfect demonstration that if the UX is good enough, it can overcome any adversity.
The long and short of it is that in the days before banking apps, personal finance was inordinately time-consuming. Standing in a queue in a branch just to pay a bill or transfer money between accounts seems almost laughable today. Even conducting transactions using an ATM or by telephone banking is far more convoluted than using a simple app via a smartphone or PC.
This is an area in which cross-platform functionality has hit a whole new level. In 2015, Barclays Bank hit on the idea of handing out chip and pin card readers to all its customers to provide an extra security level when logging on. Within a year, however, these had become practically obsolete, as customers can use their smartphone for the same purpose, to allow them to log on to the main desktop banking app.
The idea of your smartphone being more than just a means of getting online is one that has also been exploited in the health and fitness sector. There are apps that can track your exercise and even monitor your vital signs. There have already been a raft of stories claiming that apps like these have saved lives by alerting the users to abnormalities and allowing them to seek medical assistance. But their true value could run far deeper.
The competitive instinct is fundamental to human survival and it is the ability of these apps to pit us against family and friends that could improve the quality of life for countless users, without them even realizing how profoundly they have been affected.
The notion of UX is usually associated with how easily, comfortably and enjoyably a user can interact with an online site or tool. Yet the profound way in which web apps can affect our lives, from our finances to our health and fitness re-examines the very definition of UX.