Why UX & Big Data Are Best Buds?

Nadine Kahaleh , Aug 08 2017

UXD has always been positioned as a design process that revolves around creating immersive experiences that win the heart of the audience; it’s an iterative process that’s geared towards making the necessary improvements to optimize the design.

A UX design that doesn’t operate upon empathy and user-centric philosophies is certainly doomed to failure. Many online user experiences turned into complete fiascos, as they were incapable of earning the fancy of their respective personas – 72% to be exact, according to Website Grader. The number implies that the market we’re in is incredibly competitive, to say the least, and that UX Design has never been more important.

As we’ve previously explained in our UXD process article, A/B testing is an imperative part of UX, as it is the gateway to optimized designs that cater to the audience’s needs. However, testing alone is not enough, it should be followed by Big Data analysis – the door towards the users’ feelings when they interact with the product and its different contents. The best advantage of Big Data is that it encompasses information generated by the users themselves (preferences, dislikes, styles, etc.) which gives UX designers the upper hand. So, how can designers really benefit from this data and craft better experiences? 

First, What is Big Data?
Before addressing the above question, let us begin by explaining what big data is. Think of the number of people who have an online presence; now, try to wrap your mind around the volume of data that’s generated from this presence.

Today, marketers don’t only rely on their instinct to craft the best online experience, they obtain data from many outlets such as screen interaction vantage points, average time spent on a single feature, features that get clicks, and others.

When this data is tapped, tracked, utilized, and presented in a usable manner it is then called Big Data; it’s regular data large enough that it cannot be viewed nor assessed by using conventional methods, like spreadsheets for example.

If appropriately analyzed, Big Data can enable UX professionals to uncover the key metrics that measure the UXD’s performance. It works on three levels:

    • Allowing designers expand their knowledge of the customer and their needs.
    • Giving designers a full-round understanding of how the customer behaves.
    • Boosting marketing activities, as it allows marketers access to data stemming from multiple channels. 



When Data Gets a Big Pinocchio Nose
Making sense of data is what gives it its actual edge; contextual analytics is the only way to make the best out of data, otherwise, UX designers will only be left with generalized conclusions.

By placing these numbers in the right context, one can trace behavioral patterns and detect trends; numbers stripped from their context can lie, and will inhibit you from listing out the correct KPIs that are mostly relative to your experience.

Let’s take a for instance. Say the average time spent on a website is equal to 5 minutes. Looks pretty good, right? No, Wrong! If you dig deeper and analyze individual visits, you’ll discover that the majority of the users are active for only 10 seconds on the site. This is exactly how plain numbers can trick you all the way to false conclusions.

Long story short, contextual analytics sheds light on the individuality of the user and his/her behavior. 


Big Data is to UX as Fred’s is to Barney
Old school marketing research cannot even compete with Big Data – in terms of depth and breadth. Big data is characterized by its vast volume, velocity, and a variety of sources. So, how can this source of information really help UX Design?



Predicting Customer Needs
Contextual analytics are basically the womb out of which predictive analytics are born; they help in building predictive models based on how users actually interact with the product and allow UX designers to predict future behavior of consumers. These analytics won’t be present if it wasn’t for Big Data.

Ecommerce websites are a great example in this context; by using predictive analytics, ecommerce websites can recommend additional products that the shopper could add to his/her cart, just like Amazon does – the process is called upselling.

Visualizing UX Design
Big Data helps turn numbers into graphics. Or, assisted by data, the UX designer will know where and how to place the features on a webpage; big data can also dictate the information flow. This is how data is made usable and affordable – two essential traits for a successful UX design.

Scaling UX Design
Big data, placed in the right context, of course, can help UX designers better understand their customers – from motives to emotional responses, all the way to expectations. Based on the aforementioned, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your UX and develop a better understanding of the customer communication and the design gaps. This is where scaling becomes part of the equation; discovering the loopholes will lead to their respective alterations, which will result in generating more leads and greater conversions.




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