C(X) vs. U(X): Usability and Beyond
When Instagram introduced horizontal scrolling in December 2018, their users responded in an uproar, with many threatening to delete the app. Instagram later announced that the update was actually a test that was released widely by accident. While Instagram may not have meant to release horizontal scrolling without prior user-testing, a proper test before the release could have prevented significant user backlash. In this case, Instagram provided a perfect example of the importance of user-testing, even for updates after a product’s launch.
Conducting user research is important because at the end of the day, they are the ones who will be using a company’s products and services on a regular basis. It is important that the design of an app, website, or tool works for them. As Instagram learned the hard way, it is invaluable to conduct user research at all phases of development – not just at the initial creation. As updates are made along the way, repeated testing ensures that the company is innovating in the right direction.
With that being said, there are several types of user research, including C(X) and U(X), which may cause confusion when first introduced. These methods are both used to explore and improve a consumer experience, but how do you tell the difference between the two?
Consumer Experience Research – C(X)
Customer Experience Research, also known as C(X), is research conducted to gain feedback on the overall experience a customer has with a company. C(X) research provides companies with the tools they need to satisfy customers to create and build loyalty through understanding experiences across the customer journey.
Metrics that are often tested in C(X) research include:
- Customer Service – how happy a customer is with the support/assistance the company provides
- Product Delivery – customer satisfaction with the delivery process, including speed of delivery and packaging
- Retention – continued use of a product or service
- Advocacy/Referrals – how likely a customer is to recommend a company, product, or service (often measured in terms of Net Promoter Score, or NPS)
- Pricing – how a customer feels about the cost or perceived value of a product/service
- Brand Reputation – perceptions surrounding the brand
- Overall Customer Satisfaction – how happy a consumer is with their experience with a company
User Experience Research – U(X)
User Experience Research, also known as U(X), is research conducted to gain feedback to an end-user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products – and is a part of C(X). When Elevated Insights conducts U(X) testing for our clients, we are often assessing beta sites, optimizing apps, and/or enhancing content. Through behavioral ethnography (i.e. the observation and understanding of one’s behavior in a specific situation), we can go beyond navigation and evaluate an app or website’s ability to shift behaviors and improve lives.
Usability testing is conducted to optimize:
- Effectiveness – the ability to successfully complete a task on a website or app
- Efficiency – the speed at which a website or app enables a user to successfully complete a task
- Error Tolerance – the ability to resolve errors seamlessly
- Functionality – the performance of a website or application
- Communication – the clarity of terminology or images used on a website or app
- Navigation – the ability for the user to operate and maneuver a website or app
- Satisfaction – the ability to provide a satisfactory user experience
- Memorability – the ability to provide a satisfactory user experience
- Learnability – how intuitive the tool is, and whether it aligns with user mental methods
U(X) tests can be conducted in-person or online using video conferencing, screen sharing, and passing of mouse controls.
We often hear people talking about User-Centered Design (UCD) when referring to U(X) research; however, U(X) is actually just one step within UCD. UCD is the larger process applied to create an end-experience for users.
More specifically, user-centered design typically starts with an exploratory research phase to inform the concept and design of the website, app, or tool. Designers then develop this end-experience and test it among potential users, often in a U(X) test.
UCD is an interactive process. After each U(X) testing phase is complete, the design team updates their concept and design, then redevelops the website, app, or tool to be tested again.
While C(X) and U(X) are distinct research methodologies, both are about learning from, and listening to what the customer wants and needs, with the goal of creating an experience that will satisfy end-users. Customer satisfaction with websites, apps, and tools ensures that they will not only continue to use the product or service, but will ideally introduce them to others as well.
Usability testing is a strong and growing part of Elevated Insights’ qualitative offerings. Whether it be understanding the purpose, navigation, functionality, language, visuals, color palette, or graphics of a website, app, or tool, we’re here to help make your consumers’ experiences as positive as possible. Give us a call – we’d love to partner with you!