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Do your digital experiences “spark joy”?

Stephanie Kong  |  February 07, 2019

By now, I’m sure that you’ve heard of the KonMari method. The international bestseller—now a popular Netflix series—champions a distinct methodology for tidying one’s home. In the effort to decide what in one’s surroundings stays and what goes, a person must ask a single, seemingly innocuous, question:

Does this spark joy?

Skeptics may scoff, but the KonMari method—brainchild and namesake of Marie Kondo, a former Shinto shrine attendant turned organizing guru—is credited with inspiring people across the globe to purge their homes of unneeded items in an effort to enjoy a happier and more peaceful life. This made me wonder: could the same thinking be applied to the design and presentation of digital experiences? No doubt you’ve had the experience of going to a website or app only to be perplexed about how to proceed. What button should you push? How do you find what you’re looking for? And depending on your loyalty to that brand, you might have gritted your teeth and made it work. Or, you might have parted ways with that brand and gone off in search of another, more satisfying experience. Research shared in the Think with Google series showed that 29 percent of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if the one they started with doesn’t satisfy their needs. So what sparks joy for your customers? Here are the top three areas you should focus on, based on UserTesting proprietary research as well as third-party data.

1. Easy navigation

In its study of over 600 consumers, B2B review site Clutch found that the most useful website feature is “Easy navigation” (a whopping 94% of respondents agreed). And in our research here at UserTesting, we’ve also found this to be true. In our Mobile Banking Customer Experience Index, we found that usability was a make-or-break when it came to customer delight. When asked about the ability to complete a pretty basic task using a major bank’s mobile app, a tester remarked, “There wasn’t much good I can say about the app, given that I couldn’t find my... statement. I searched through what I thought were the more obvious menu choices, but after about five minutes or so, I just gave up and left the task incomplete.” It isn’t surprising that this bank’s rating was a good 20 points lower than those of its competitors.

2. Descriptions and visuals of products and services

Tied for the second most useful website feature (with 91% of respondents agreeing to both) are “Descriptions of products/services” and “Visuals of products/services.” When it comes to customers visiting your website or other digital properties, what they see is what they’ll get. In other words, you want to make it easy for them to find and discover what they are seeking because it will compel them to purchase or some other conversion. The Walmart Canada site optimization team found this to be true. The team was focused on quantitative data and running lots of A/B tests in a scattershot manner. The lack of an overlying framework or strategy was resulting in team burnout as they moved from test to test based on perceived areas of opportunity while still struggling to drive longer-term outcomes. So they turned to qualitative feedback, to better understand why users were making certain choices while on their eCommerce site. In one instance, the team realized that they were leaking mobile traffic in one section of the site simply because customers wanted to see products presented in a different way visually. Where they might have spent months and tons of resources testing out functionality, searchability, assortment, or even price—the usual suspects—the team quickly determined the source of the problem. Once they launched improvements, they saw a 13 percent increase in revenue from mobile for this section of the site.

3. Beautiful or updated design

The third most useful website feature is “Beautiful or updated design.” Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents agreed that when it comes to the aesthetics of digital experiences, you have one chance to make a first impression. And a study by Missouri University of Science and Technology showed that 94% of a user’s first impression is related to design elements. The challenge, in this case, is that what looks good can really be subjective. Often it’s informed by personal preferences based on one’s history and experiences in life and even things like culture. When a regional hospital system wanted to provide television screens in patients’ recovery rooms to display vital information, they found that there was a disconnect between the preferences of their design team (many of whom were Millennials) and the intended customers (many of whom were older, including retirees). The team conducted a series of interviews while in their ideation stage using Live Conversation, to determine the best ways to present the information for optimal utility and delight. The head UX researcher on the project noted, “These were some of the nuances that we picked up on from the feedback and that we kept tweaking in our designs along the way.” The feedback from older audiences informed the sizing of fonts and elements on the screen—namely that they had to be larger and more clearly represented. He added, “We want beautiful things and pleasing things, but sometimes the most beautiful thing is simple and ordinary and just works.”

Create experiences that spark joy

These are just a few starting points about the digital elements that we know to spark joy. The true test when it comes to your products is something akin to the KonMari method. We’re not suggesting that you hold a prototype in your hand and ask, “Does this spark joy?” But we are suggesting that it all starts with a question—in this case to your customers and target audiences—and an honest assessment of whether something on your website or app contributes positively to the experience, or if it’s digital clutter that gets in the way of customers reaching their goals. Admittedly, the UserTesting team may not be made up of KonMari experts. But we can show you—by asking the right questions—how you can get human insight from customers in just a few hours that will help you design a more streamlined and beautiful

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About the author:

Stephanie is a product marketer with over ten years of experience in brand and product marketing spanning the publishing, online advertising, consumer electronics, and SaaS enterprise products industries.