Top 5 Ways to Deliver a Great User Experience
:: By Rit Mishra, Director of Service Design at Idean ::
There are more than a trillion websites and apps online, representing countless hours of effort directed toward design and implementation.
What is crucial is getting the user experience (UX) of these digital products right, and more and more businesses from startups to large corporates are realizing the importance of this.
People outside the industry might assume that with all the emphasis on creating a great user experience, there would be a clear and well-defined consensus on what constitutes excellence in UX. As industry professionals know, however, there are almost as many opinions of what defines a great user experience as there are sites and apps.
The fact is, sites and apps have a unique purpose. Users approach them for specific reasons, so it makes sense that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to UX. That said, there are solid principles designers can follow to achieve excellence in UX. Here are five tips:
1. Conduct thorough research.
The first step toward creating an excellent UX is to research the target audience and truly understand user goals and needs. Why are users visiting the site? What are their intentions? It’s also critical to put the site or app in the context of the market landscape — who are its competitors? What are the market gaps and opportunities? And finally, designers must understand the business goals, e.g., is the site or app intended to generate revenue? Is driving traffic the main objective?
2. Keep it simple.
Once designers have identified the target audience, they should use that information to make the site or application incredibly intuitive and streamlined for that specific target group. It’s tempting to innovate for the sake of innovation, but that can result in a site that loses its purpose and drifts away from its core offering. By following the simplicity principle, designers can ensure that they build the site or app around the user, not themselves.
3. Mind the micro-interactions.
There’s a tendency in the design community to focus on larger issues in interaction, but it’s also crucial not to lose sight of the micro-interactions, the small, subtle movements that contribute to the overall experience, such as transitions and animations, error displays, hidden menus, notifications and other less prominent details. All contribute to building a great user experience.
4. Design for multiple devices.
The use of mobile devices as a Web gateway is exploding, so it’s absolutely critical to design for all device types. Responsive design is now the standard for websites. Companies can’t afford to assume that users will scroll from side to side to view content — users will leave a site that doesn’t display properly on their device, so the site or app must work across desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
5. Validate assumptions through testing.
It’s easy for designers and developers to get too close to a project to see it objectively, so testing to validate assumptions must be a part of the process. The best way to accomplish this is to involve both project stakeholders and real-world users in the testing process. With testing, site and app owners can make sure the UX meets user expectations as discovered during the research phase.
Virtually all site or app designers understand the importance of meeting user expectations. The site or app should perform the functions users require with a minimum of friction. The best sites and apps go beyond expectations to delight users with simplicity and clean functionality.
The specific functions, navigations and visual cues will vary according to site purpose and user needs, of course. By following these five tips, however, site and app designers can create a product that consistently delivers not just a good user experience but a great one.