A 4-Step Checklist for Building a Great UX from the Ground Up

A 4-Step Checklist for Building a Great UX from the Ground Up

A smart person once said, “Behind every great design stands a great UX.” OK, maybe that wasn’t the exact quote, but hear us out.

Unique, responsive designs are more important than ever to brand management, but good designs don’t stand on their own. In fact, without a user experience infrastructure, they fall pretty flat.

User experience, or UX, refers to how visitors feel when interacting with your mobile app or website. It encompasses usability, design, content presentation – basically every element your users see. No matter how elegant or unique a design you have, the UX makes or breaks your interface’s success.

People don’t consciously evaluate UX infrastructure, but they respond to it emotionally. If the site layout is confusing or deceptive, their opinion of your brand goes down, as does the likelihood of them converting as customers.

Think about a site that promises to calculate your credit score for free in 60 seconds. You input your data and are led through a series of questions that takes four or five minutes instead of the expected one. Maybe the service isn’t even really free, and you need to hand over your credit card information after that tedious questionnaire. You’d probably stop trusting the brand, because the promise of fast, free service was an empty one.

On the other hand, a well thought out UX helps you deliver on your promises to customers. A UX and design that complement one another increase user satisfaction and brand perception, and that positive feeling trickles down to your conversion and sales rates.

Because UX plays such an important role in your site’s or app’s success, we’re going to show you how to build the right experience for your customers. Use this checklist in your UX research to build a high-quality, high-conversion site.

1. Identify the Market: An effective UX relies on deep knowledge of your users. Conduct market research to learn your target audience’s buying patterns and identify market opportunities. Look for ways to differentiate your brand through UX by evaluating your competitors and where they’re missing opportunities on their web and mobile platforms.

2. Define Your Audience: It’s not enough to have an intuitive UX and stellar design. Your site or app must cater to your audience, which is why you need to know your users intimately to make a lasting impression. Develop buyer personas to answer questions about who your ideal customers are, what motivates them, what they value, and any potential conversion barriers.

Maybe Bob, a 35-year-old dad looking for a car loan, represents one segment of your audience. Dana, a 25-year-old who recently finished grad school and wants to finance her first home, represents another. The more detail you add to these profiles, the more you’ll be able to align your value proposition with your prospects’ expectations, and the more audience-tailored your UX and design will be.

3. Map the Journey: Buyer personas tell you how to communicate most effectively with your users and lead them to your ultimate goal, whether that’s opting-in for a free ebook or purchasing a product. The right UX for new parents investing in their daughter’s college fund differs from what financially-savvy young professionals want to see.The following questions will help you develop and refine the onboarding process:

  • What path do users need to complete to get to the final goal?
  • What steps do they need to complete along the path?
  • What tasks do we ask of them at each step?

By breaking down users’ onboarding experience, you identify opportunities to customize the process or remove features that might frustrate or confuse them. Always refer back to your personas during this development stage to ensure you’re still delivering on your UX promises.

4. Wireframe the Screens: Once you’ve collected your user data and established an onboarding process, you can create lightweight wireframes. These are sketches of your page elements and content placement. You’re not designing at this point; you’re creating the framework for your site.The data you’ve collected will direct the site’s functionality and give it more substance once you do add the design. Think of the wireframes as the bones, the UX as the muscle, and the design as the sleek, attractive exterior. Each one builds on the other, if you follow the right process.

A great user experience isn’t about impressing visitors on a superficial level. Sure, it’s nice to hear that you have the prettiest website or the most aesthetically appealing app in town. But UX helps you connect with your audience at a deeper level, earning their trust, time, and ultimately, their money. UX isn’t just the muscle of your site, it’s also the backbone.

Picture of Jack Macy
Jack Macy
Jack Macy is one of the co-founders of CSTMR. His background and experience span branding, marketing strategy, design, UX, and technical development across financial services, technology, healthcare, and nonprofits.

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