5 ways to incorporate user experience design.

Meeting users’ needs.

The world wide web is powered by the end user. They choose which websites to visit, what information to consume, and what products to purchase from whom. In this way, a website’s success does not hinge on design or information alone; it relies on how the user perceives it. This perception is particularly important as technologies and methodologies advance, and web-based systems move from static mediums to complex, interactive experiences. Basically, your website’s success boils down to whether you can retain your target user’s interest through considered systems and tools.

Enter user-experience design, or UX design.

What is user experience design?

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works” - Steve Jobs

The term “user experience” refers to how a person feels when interacting with a system, be it a website, web application or desktop software. UX designers evaluate how users feel when interacting with a system, studying behavioural and emotional responses as well as utility, efficiency and ease of use.

User experience design is often confused with usability, as they both place special emphasis on the human side of human-computer interactions. While they are linked, their definitions are vastly different. UX design is about human experience, while usability is focused on human performance. So, while a system must be usable, it must also be useful, desirable, accessible, credible and valuable to satisfy the objectives of user-experience design.

User experience design tips

The key to UX design is to design for the experience, not fiddle with features. Therefore, striking a balance between business context, content and user needs is paramount.

Firstly - do you know who your target user is? A trap that many web designers fall into is believing they are their own end user. Do your research, but keep in mind there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one user may not have the same effect on another. All you can do is strive to design for specific experiences while promoting certain behaviours.

Here’s what we know about UX design:

1. Users want to do the least amount of work possible

Don’t set up obstacles for users to overcome or make the most commonly used items furthest from reach; pave the way for an easy ride. The design should allow the user to complete tasks quickly and easily.

2. Users crave information, but don’t like to read

Position the information users need to know front and centre, with an option to read more. Instead of describing things, use or show an example - pictures of people and personal stories trigger emotional connections.

3. Users lose interest quickly

Think you can multitask? Think again. Effective design focuses on one task, without diverting the user’s attention to less important tasks. Retain interest with bright colours, pictures and large fonts - people are programmed to pay attention to things that are different or novel.

3. Users make mistakes

Humans make mistakes, it’s inevitable. They key is to anticipate what they will be to try and prevent them. List what is not possible to guide people to successful interactions, and make it simple for users to reverse or “undo” an action.

4. Users get lost

Never let your user get lost, or you’ll miss an opportunity for conversion. Provide visual cues to keep the user in the know about where they’ve been, where they are and where they’re going. Use clear language and grouping so you don’t lead people down the wrong path.

5. Users don’t like to wait

No one likes waiting in lines. Users find slow and unresponsive systems frustrating. Testing is key - for every feature that is slow to load, choose a simpler solution. Keep in mind that the user’s perception of speed is equally as important as the actual speed.

Who should consider UX design?

Basically, everyone. But particularly those with complex or multi-faceted systems with the potential to run into user experience problems. Whatever your project, remember that UX is an ongoing effort - a process of continually learning and adjusting to meet the user’s needs.

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