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5 Reasons Why Effective Data Management Is Essential for User Experience

Authors Photo Christopher Tozzi | June 7, 2020

Delivering an excellent user experience is essential to attracting and retaining customers. And although data management may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about optimizing user experience, maybe it should be.

User experience — or just UX, as really trendy folks put it — has become something of a buzzword at the intersection of IT and business.

That has happened with good reason. In a world where a quarter of mobile users abandon an app after just one use, and where the growth in value of design-focused companies has far outpaced the stock market in recent years, the importance of user experience for driving business value is clear. (On the negative side of things, keep in mind, too, that social media and comment systems make it very easy for a user who has a bad experience to trumpet his or her problems far and wide.)

Data and the user experience

When you think about how to deliver a positive user experience, things like user-focused software design and rigorous application testing probably first come to mind.

However, the way you manage and deliver data is crucial to providing a positive user experience, too. Consider the following points:

1. Applications run on data

Virtually all applications rely on data to deliver a meaningful user experience. And the best-designed application deployed on the fastest host infrastructure will still frustrate users if the data that it needs to operate is difficult to access because of data availability or integration problems. It doesn’t matter how well designed your user interface is if the data that users want to see through the interface takes too long to load or is difficult to interpret.

2. Data helps you understand what users want

Assessing user expectations through anecdotal information, such as online comments, can be one way to understand user desires. But a data-driven approach is another, arguably more effective strategy.

By collecting and integrating information such as how long users use a particular feature in an application, or what they do right before they stop engaging, can help you to pinpoint what users want and expect in order to give it to them.

3. Data personalizes the user experience

Users like feeling that you treat them as individuals, especially if they engage with you digitally and therefore do not directly interact with any humans at your organization.

One way to make users feel like you recognize their individuality is to use data to personalize their experience. This is what Netflix does by recommending shows that a user might want to see based on past viewings, for example. You need well-managed data to drive this type of personalization.

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4. User perception counts as much as actual experience

Even if the way you manage and secure data is not directly related to the user experience you deliver, users are likely to form overall impressions of your business, and their experience with it, based on how you manage data. If they sense that your business does not take data security seriously, or if efficient data management appears to be an afterthought, users are likely to form negative impressions of your organization, no matter what their actual experience with it is.

5. Users need data integration, too

When we talk about data integration, the conversation tends to focus on how data integration can help your business to make sense of all of its data by analyzing it through a single pane of glass. But data integration matters for users, too.

For example, if you are an online retailer, you don’t want to present your users with a bunch of confusing data sets about different elements of their shopping history. Instead, you want to aggregate data into a single place and provide visualizations that help them to interpret it. Maybe you use graphs to show how their purchases compare across different categories, for example. That’s a lot better than only allowing users to view each past sales record individually.

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