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Why UX Is an Underutilized Gold Mine For Filipino Businesses 

'Good UX will make it easier for a customer to love you (and pay you).'
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The pandemic and lockdown have driven almost every business online, some of which were unprepared and overwhelmed by the drastic shift to digital. Almost overnight, e-commerce spiked, websites were put up left and right, and a growing number of businesses hastily planned apps or tapped existing ones to market their goods and services to everyone online.

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It was only when everyone found themselves online that they realized it’s not as easy as setting up a basic Wordpress website and hoping for the best. It’s not even a matter of choosing the “coolest” design, and expecting users to get hooked. The customer experience has not been lessened online, but sharpened. Now, the challenge is to appeal to all the senses of the potential customer through a glass screen. And they’ve got it down to a science.

What is UX?

User experience or UX for businesses is the term coined to encompass “all the touchpoints with a company, service, or product,” explained Aldrich Tan, managing director of non-profit UXPH, the biggest UX community in the Philippines. “It includes parts of a brand and all the emotions associated with a company’s product or service.”

This is in contrast to UI, or user interface, which refers to the visual manifestation of UX. We’re talking about an app’s interface, a website’s design, etc.

“An oversimplified analogy can be like eating a meal: The content a customer intakes are the ingredients, which includes the nutrition, taste, smell, textures, etc., while the UI is the bowl, plate, utensils, etc. The process of using the tools and eating the food makes up the User Experience,” explained Tan.

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UXPH’s marketing lead Chi Señires, a UI/UX designer herself, breaks down her job as follows: “I help determine the best flow or set of steps users of our products can go through, from point A to point B.”

She adds that UI and UX are the form and function sides of the same coin: “UX focuses more on the high-level, end-to end process, including doing research to get to know your users or customers more, and constantly getting feedback to cater to your user’s needs more, while UI focuses on how you present this information to the user, which, in most cases, considers the visual elements of an interface, like color, placement of certain actions, the layout, etcetera.”

Experience seems like a broad word to describe what UX focuses on, but broad is accurate as UX aims to enhance every step your potential customer takes when browsing your goods and services to finally lead to making a purchase.

Why UX is Now a Necessity

The pandemic disrupted the world, including how businesses run. The bright side is that the struggle to adapt fast-tracked innovative solutions. Digital pushed to make life more convenient for those stuck at home, but this also conditioned users to choose platforms with the best, most convenient, and easily understandable UX.

“If these solutions were poorly designed, then they would have stood almost no chance of survival or adoption in any market. Nowadays, we don’t have the luxury of time or patience to learn something that was poorly designed, so if an app fails to impress or delight, then it’s on to the alternative solution,” said Tan.

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UX for businesses is still a relatively new concept to Filipinos, but more and more are beginning to understand how invaluable it is to invest in UX. Because investing in UX means investing in your users.

“Filipino businesses are now learning, albeit slowly, the benefit of investing in the UX of their products and services,” explained Señires.

 “Although the practice of UX in the Philippines is still relatively new, with some companies opting to just hire one UX person who does the work that would be better off given to a team of people, more people and businesses are starting to understand the value of having a set of people to improve the overall experience their customers have when using their products. It’s important especially now, with the pandemic forcing most, if not all, businesses to go digital, for them to consider what the best solution would be given the context of their company.”

Good UX will make it easier for a customer to love you (and pay you)

Websites or apps with good UX can decrease drop-off rates, increase conversion rates, increase retention rates, and essentially encourage your online visitors to become paying customers. It can help you measure customer satisfaction, how your company is perceived, and how you can improve.

“Thoughtful design also moves with the customers’ needs and behaviors—a Prime example would be Amazon, pun intended. Good UX will make it easier for a customer to love you (and pay you),” said Tan. “From a qualitative perspective, you can also measure customer satisfaction or even perception of your brand of company and learn how you can improve from there.”

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Good UX pays, and local shopping apps like Shopee and Lazada are proof of this. The way the app is set up encourages users to shop online hassle-free. The design is only part of the equation, but the big hook is the thought that went behind the system they put in front of the online shopper that would make frequent shopping convenient. Some might argue about the ethics of design and the "addiction" element, but that's a different conversation entirely. 

Another example would be Netflix. Despite its costly monthly subscription fees, it won’t stop attracting new customers thanks to word of mouth and brilliant marketing. The exclusive movies and shows on the platform might draw users in, but it’s the experience they have browsing Netflix on their app or TVs that makes them want to stay, and keep paying the P500+ subscription every month. Now Netflix is at a point internationally that they no longer need to seduce potential users with a free trial month, because the UX was so successful in growing, retaining, and enticing users.

Digital has also made feedback easier to gather, something Señires points out: “Collect feedback from the customers and other stakeholders so that the company knows what other things they can improve on to make the experience better for everyone.”

How UXPH Supports Filipino Businesses

While UX is still gaining a foothold in the Philippines, a community of design professionals, enthusiasts, and students already exists to promote UX and UI for the benefit of Filipino MSMEs: UXPH. A non-profit, UXPH focuses on promoting human-centered design practices to ensure the best user experience for Filipino users, which can promote stability and growth in the struggling private sector.

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Those who invest in UX for businesses and have products and services designed to address someone’s needs have a better shot at success, which is something that UXPH helps Filipinos businesses achieve. UX and UI designers are also in demand careers, so interested individuals can join UXPH to learn, network, and understand design.

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UXPH’s annual conference, the UXPH CONF, is gathering business and design leaders on November 14 and 15 to share their best practices, experiences, and observations of how UX is growing in the Philippines. Speakers include professionals from Facebook, Dropbox, IBM, Shopify, and JG Summit Holdings.

Tickets are now available online. And you can get a 15 percent off your ticket with this promo code: UXPH2020SUMMIT.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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