Back in the early days of the internet, there were no laws or standard practices for websites. It was a wild west without rhyme or reason. Web developers built funky-looking websites because they liked the way they looked, not out of any consideration for the consumer. If anything, the thought process at the time was that odd design choices made a website stand out more and so serve as a more memorable experience for the site visitor.
Designing for User Experiences
However, as the internet evolved and smartphones rose to prominence, UX design—short for user experience design—became one of the dominant forces in the decision-making process. Ultimately, businesses created websites to increase their growth, and to do that most effectively, it was important to let the user have it their way. Most often, this meant simplifying design and getting the consumer to their desired end goal with minimal effort on the consumer’s end. UX design led the charge of creating intuitive layouts and ensuring consumers could navigate through a business’s online products, services, or information with ease.
Alongside the growing focus on UX design and the user’s desire to achieve their goals quickly, the need for information increased. The power of content is clear from today’s numbers. Content marketing saves more money than other forms of marketing, increases consumer engagement, and boosts overall traffic. Is it any surprise then that content became as popular as it is today?
Yet not only did users want to read more content, but they wanted each piece of content to be more informative, more aware of and relevant to the most recent studies and news, and, most importantly, delivered directly to them. Publishing content was no longer good enough for the consumer market; that content needed to be immediately accessible.
Rise of the APIs
The solution to this problem was the development of content APIs, software interfaces that can sort content and identify content. Content APIs became crucial to success because there was no other way to juggle so much content. Handling it all manually was a ludicrous proposal. In the world of big data, having automation and software that can understand and organize information are critical.
Why then does the sorting of content become so important? 40% of website visitors won’t return after a negative experience. Consumers rarely become converting customers on the first visit, and let’s be clear, consumers will become frustrated if they cannot find what they are looking for relatively quickly. After all, 25% of consumers will abandon a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load, and while they will certainly spend more time on a website than a handful of seconds once they’re on, businesses still need to get their information and content to consumers quickly.
Content APIs play into this speed factor by organizing content. When a consumer searches for a specific topic on your website, or on Google for that matter, a content API can help provide more relevant searches, which is absolutely for any blog or ecommerce site. Nobody wants to browse endless columns of articles or products for sale. Instead, let consumers search for what they want.
UX + API
So where does UX design come in? A content API is all well and good, but it needs great design to be easy to use. From a business standpoint, if the API itself has poor design, then the API will be time-consuming and difficult to use on a daily basis. After all, content APIs won’t be used just by developers who understand its workings; it will be used by the marketers, writers, and designers on the team.
On the other side, consumers need to be able to process information from that API quickly: how much of a preview should consumers see of a product or an article when they search a term? What information is most relevant, and how should it be arranged? More importantly, what are users trying to accomplish? What dividing lines should be drawn between different kinds of content, and what categories should they be sorted into? All of these questions are answered by UX designers and vary from business to business.
This is not to say that UX design alone is enough. For any business, hiring a variety of designers, from UI designers to mobile designers, will be important to success. After all, mobile search is on the rise, and 94% of consumers cite design problems as their primary reason if they distrust a website. These issues require full design teams to handle them, not just UX design. However, when it comes to filtering content and ensuring that layouts provide easy use for consumers, UX design is paramount.
“Why UX Matters Even More” was written by guest author Lisa Froelings. Lisa is a business and productivity consultant with over four years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Yes, she prefers to refer to herself in third person.