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How Can I Leverage AI In User Experience Optimization?

AI can either help or harm your digital improvement efforts. Here are tips to make sure it's the former.

We’re all drowning in conversations and news about AI, and I have to admit, I occasionally cringe when it’s mentioned.

Not because I don’t see its value, but rather because it gets thrown around as clickbait, and use cases are often completely misrepresented.

I’ve intentionally not brought up AI in The Good’s articles or newsletter because I don’t want to contribute to unhelpful conversations. But, it’s time to cut through that noise.

Today let’s talk about how to leverage AI, not just as a buzzword, but as a practical tool for boosting your efficiency, generating ideas, and ultimately making the digital world a better place.

We covered AI in UX optimization on a recent podcast episode of Drive and Convert. Listen to the full episode below for more context.

AI can either help or harm your digital improvement efforts

As a digital leader, finding ways to streamline processes and improve user experience is crucial. Especially as the holiday season adds chaos to the mix.

AI can be a tool in your toolkit to help your digital improvement efforts. But, if used incorrectly, it can also harm them. Why?

  • AI is trained on biased information: The tool is trained on certain public information and data sets. That public information and data are biased toward certain users and populations.
  • AI can state false information as fact: AI can be extremely convincing, while at the same time being completely wrong. Outputs aren’t fact-checked and can be misrepresented.

There is also, of course, the question of the ethical use of AI and how it might be plagiarizing creators, which I won’t get into today. I encourage you to do your own research with the mindset that you can and should be using AI to support your work. But, you should be doing it in a way that helps, not harms.

So, let’s start with an overarching caveat that the human touch is still pivotal to user experience optimization and digital experience improvement in general.

When using AI, researchers and strategists have to use critical thinking to create the correct constraints, requirements, and prompts for AI tools and then sift through the output to select relevant points.

It can’t replace real user research. The behaviors and motivations of your users are unique. The same way we wouldn’t recommend you copy everything a competitor is doing because their audience and goals are almost guaranteed to be different to yours, we don’t recommend you replace AI with talking to and testing with your own users. Instead, it can help make those processes more efficient.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can use AI to support your digital optimization efforts.

Leverage a ‘brainstorm buddy’

If you’re a remote worker, AI can and should become your virtual brainstorming buddy.

The same way you would lead a team in a brainstorming session or go to a colleague for ideas, prompt AI with specifics on what you are looking for, and watch the ideas flow.

To get the most out of the tool, you’ll need to be specific, provide constraints, share guidelines on your audience, and ask questions. The more precise the instructions, the more relevant and useful the suggestions generated by the tool.

If you don’t like the ideas generated, continue asking questions and iterating on your prompt until it sparks inspiration. Remember to use it to brainstorm, not to do the actual work.

Here are some specific examples of AI as a great brainstorming buddy:

  • Ask for examples of use cases you are trying to create in your work
  • Build a list of competitors
  • Use it as a search supplement to Google
  • Share your own ideas with the tool and ask it to identify blindspots

Create initial prototypes for validation

You can use AI as a tool for creating prototypes. It is a low-effort, high-impact way to get validation on your ideas before you write any code or invest in design.

Once you get initial feedback on the prototypes from users, your designers and developers can take the AI prototype and use it as a guide or inspiration for the final product.

Some specific use case examples are:

  • Upload a sketch of a wireframe and use an AI-backed tool to create a higher-fidelity prototype
  • Modify a Shopify template based on prompts you give the tool and create an initial artifact that you can hand off to a developer
  • Feed the AI tool your product or landing page and have it generate initial filler copy with higher value than lorem ipsum
  • Boost the realism of your imagery by sharing some of your product images and using AI to generate them in situ before you invest in a photoshoot

This gives you a starting point and a way to avoid a time and cost investment in something you aren’t sure will deliver results.

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Improve your copy

We know from years of testing that users don’t have the time or patience for walls of text. And most of the time, neither does your internal team.

AI can be a great tool for improving your copy and making your point faster.

A few specific examples include asking AI to:

  • Shorten your copy while retaining the essence
  • Extract key points
  • Tailor your content to specific personas

It’s like having an extra set of eyes that only focus on what matters.

Gain internal support

You’ve got the data and research, but how do you present it in a way that resonates with executives who might not be optimization experts?

AI can be a great support in translating long presentations or source material into a first draft of digestible information for your higher-ups.

For example:

  • Run your reports through AI to simplify and clarify
  • Get key points tailored for any team members or leaders who might be unfamiliar with the intricacies of optimization

Quickly translate comprehensive work into bite-sized insights and “need to know” highlights that allow for quick decisions and cross-team visibility.

Note that as the digital product owner on your team, you should still be privy to the comprehensive report you’re consolidating. Don’t skip the details; that is where the nuggets of gold are for improving your digital experience.

But, AI can help you keep that information high level for people who don’t work on the day-to-day of your site or app.

Visualize personas and the customer journey

AI can be used as a creative partner to turn theoretical ideas into something visual.

For example:

  • Create visual representations of your personas as a supplement to some of the more fact-based research you use to build that profile
  • Describe your user journey (steps from research to buying to conversion) and ask AI to draft a journey map that you can iterate on
  • Ask for draft designs of specific website pages based on your user personas

Small companies can even use AI to create brand assets to get them started.

Support your user research

There is a nuance that comes with user research that AI just can’t understand yet, but you can leverage the tool as support on both the front end and back end of user tests.

Generate ideas for questions or tasks with AI, and then when you have your research, AI can look at large sets of data to find focus points. Strategists and human brain power can then analyze those areas for insights.

Specifically, try using AI to:

  • Draft interview questions
  • Draft tasks for user testing
  • Feed videos into AI and ask for a simple sentiment analysis
  • Tell AI to extract themes from user testing scripts or videos
  • Ask it to categorize themes

A drawback of this approach is that if you rely too much on the tool, you can lose a lot of the value from your research. And you also won’t learn about user testing as you do it.

So, just remember it’s user testing, not AI testing. The goal is to leverage AI to supplement human insights and not let it hinder you as you build your expertise.

Start by using AI in small user experience optimization instances

All of this is to say, if you haven’t already, you need to start using AI now. It will put you on the path to becoming an expert (which will be crucial as the functionality of the tool improves) and increase your day-to-day efficiency.

You still can’t rely on AI to solve your complicated customer and user problems. Instead, use it in your toolkit and start getting familiar with how it can support your work.

AI, like most efficiency hacks, is not the silver bullet. But it can serve as a trusted sidekick.

Its power lies in practical, targeted implementation across your processes. Complement that with a solid understanding of your users and the tool can enhance, not replace, your optimization efforts.

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About the Author

Jon MacDonald

Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a digital experience optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest companies including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc.