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UX is about understanding the desires and hopes of your customer, and the feeling the product gives them when they use it… the UI design is the creation of the part of the product that the customer sees.

The distinction between UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) can be quite blurred, says Chuffed chief executive Prashan Paramanathan, whose crowdfunding platform caters for social cause projects and in its first two years raised more than $4 million for nearly 1000 projects.

UI and UX are critical skillsets for making sure you’re creating a product or service that people actually want, says Paramanathan.“Without them, you risk falling into the trap of creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist for your customers,” he says.

“For us, UX is about understanding the desires and hopes of your customer, and the feeling the product gives them when they use it. The UX is about designing the ‘smell of the bakery’, the first thing that you see when you walk in, or when and how the assistant greets you.”

On the other hand, the UI design is the creation of the part of the product that the customer sees. “UI is about the ‘art of making the bread’, and the displays that make that experience possible. Good UI is a prerequisite for good UX.”

Remember – simplicity trumps all else

Focus on getting out of the way of your customers, making navigation as clear as possible so they can do what they’re trying to do, says Paramanathan.

“For example, on all our campaign pages we have simple white backgrounds, with the ‘donate’ button in high-contrast red to make the next action very clear.

“We also think about the language we use throughout the site, as it’s easy to accidentally confuse people by choosing the wrong words. Asking people to upload ‘photo identification’ gave us quite a different result to asking people to upload ‘identification’.”

Don’t assume you know what your customers want

Most of the work isn’t in capturing a user’s attention, but in deeply understanding what people want and then delivering it, especially as research shows exceeding expectations is key to customer satisfaction.

Ask customers for their opinions, interpret that information, test it with them and then see how they actually respond to your product, advises Paramanathan.

“We are huge fans of A/B testing software used to try out a range of different customer experiences. We aim to have our product under constant A/B test, as we know that a large sum of small UX improvements adds up over time.”

Test and experiment –  you only learn from your mistakes

“When we started, we made the mistake of borrowing parts of our UI design from the big crowdfunding platforms without thinking enough about what our customers really wanted,” says Paramanathan.

“At the time nearly every crowdfunding platform forced donors to create an account with them, before allowing them to donate. Donors hated this – they didn’t have an emotional relationship with the platform at that point and the idea of creating an account with someone they didn’t really know and trust meant that you lost about 90% of potential donors at that step.”

By listening to feedback the team quickly generated new ideas for the business, quickly understanding the reasons why people hated logging in before donating and reacting quickly by removing the feature. Conversions nearly doubled as a result. 

This paired with two other UI changes – making the donation amount visible to donors and A/B testing multiple colours on the donate buttons – meant the business increased donor conversion dramatically.

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