Personalization of user experience is important while building a site, as any e-commerce giant will tell you. In fact, personalization is no longer something that e-commerce businesses can include but something that they must include in their UX design, and this includes recommendations and suggestions. A survey saw 73 percent of online shoppers say that they were frustrated when they received recommendations, content and offers that were irrelevant to their interests. What we’re trying to say here is that personalization of UX is the need of the hour, and certainly not something that businesses can afford to ignore. The good news is that tailoring a personalized UX is no rocket science and is about the information you gather on user activity, whether it is done explicitly or implicitly.
Implicit and explicit settings
There are two ways in which businesses keep a tab on user activity to enhance the user experience - explicit and implicit personalization settings.
An explicit personalization setting is where the personalization profile of the user is built based on the preferences that the user has explicitly provided. This could include surveys conducted to determine user preferences, preferences set by the user in an exclusive page or profile and so on. On the other hand, an implicit personalization setting is where the user activity and behavior are tracked and monitored as they use the site. This could involve tracking what products or pages that they click on. While you may think that explicit and implicit settings simply help the business gain insight on user behavior to enhance the UX design, effectively designing the UX personalization is in fact about bridging the gap between the two.
Bridging the gap
The problem with tracking user behavior is that most users are not comfortable with the idea, unless you tell them how it is being used to improve the user experience. In a modern world, where user data is being used to increase sales and revenues by businesses, the user's trust in businesses has dropped. It certainly helps to tell the user as to why a specific recommendation is showing up on their page, so they know how their information is being used.
Keeping things transparent is just the first part, an equally important part is to allow users to make changes to the implicit tracking activity. Without this, you may be thinking that you are interpreting the user behavior in the right manner, and giving valuable recommendations, when there is a good chance that it may be otherwise. For instance, say you have an e-commerce site that provides recommendations based on the purchases previously made by the user. Say the user purchases a smartphone as a gift from the site. Now, if you were to use just an implicit personalization setting, then it seems obvious that you show other smartphone products on the recommendation section to the user. However, the user may not actually want to purchase a smartphone for him/her, as it was a gift for someone else. This would make the recommendation seem irrelevant to the user. Instead, if you had additional options next to the recommendations such as:
a) was a gift
b) not interested
c) own one already
It would become easier for you to filter your recommendations more sensibly and provide valuable recommendations to the user. In short, the consumer should be allowed to make changes to the implicit personalization by explicitly defining what goes or does not go into it, and that is how you bridge the gap between the two for a better UX.