Consumers enjoy using products that are well-designed and highly functional. Whether it’s a digital interface, such as a website or app, or a physical product, like a smartwatch or espresso machine, products that can be easily manipulated provide the best user experience.
In order to create digital interfaces that allow users to perform tasks seamlessly and correctly, you’ll need to employ the principles of UX design. But what exactly is UX design, and why is it so vital to creating websites and apps that people find both useful and satisfying to use?
Crafting the User’s Experience with UX Design
While there is no absolute definition of the term, user experience (UX) design can be defined as the process of creating products—whether they’re digital or physical—that are functional, convenient, and enjoyable to use. Businesses use UX design to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty by creating highly functional products that are delightful to interact with.
In order to make your website or app more enjoyable and useful for its intended audience, consider the following UX principles:
1. Harness emotional design
When designing a website, it’s crucial to make the experience both memorable and pleasant. While users might forget the information found in your website, they often remember what navigating through the site made them feel.
All the visual elements of your site—including the graphics, text, and interactive elements—need to work together to provide a memorable experience.
To develop this, you’ll need to apply the Facets of User Experience, as outlined by Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios and the founding father of Information Architecture:
- Useful. Design products and systems that are useful to users. Innovate if necessary.
- Usable. Create designs that don’t require a steep learning curve.
- Desirable. Create designs that evoke the identity and image of your brand.
- Findable. Create locatable objects and websites that are easy to navigate.
- Accessible. Create designs that are accessible to people with disabilities.
- Credible. Produce content that’s reliable and trusted by users.
- Valuable. Provide value to sponsors, such as moving a non-profit’s mission or improving a for-profit’s customer satisfaction.
Overall, you should use your website’s visual and interactive elements to strike an emotional response in users. This will help your site stand out from the competition.
2. Be consistent
Users expect products to be consistent with similar products that they’ve used in the past. By employing consistency, your products will be easier to use, which in turn amplifies the user’s satisfaction and enjoyment.
The single most important rule in creating your site or app’s user interface (UI) is consistency. There’s less of a learning curve for new users if your UI is consistent with others sites and apps that offer similar products and services. Moreover, by employing a consistent UI that users can understand quickly, your site or app gets easier to use with each visit.
Design language, which sets down the guidelines on how to design products for specific platforms, is something you can turn to if you want to be consistent. A great example of this is Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for iOS developers. These guidelines outline the design themes and principles for app developers who want to release products on the iOS platform.
3. Evaluate on a regular basis
Assess your website or app on a regular basis to make it even more useful and usable for the end users. Consider every aspect of your site or app’s visual and interactive elements. Is the main action button easy to find? Are there other buttons surrounding it that might cause confusion? Is the language easy to understand?
Consider manipulating visual hierarchy to help users navigate your interface and understand information more easily. Eliminate any distractions and ambiguities and avoid brain-numbing jargon.
The user’s journey through your site or app can be analogized as a storybook. If you open a storybook to a page and select a word, many elements on the page will help provide context to the reader, including the title of the book, the chapter, and page number. These key indicators will prevent the reader from becoming disoriented. The word itself will appear contextually within the sentence, paragraph, and page. Similarly, you’ll want your users to be contextually aware of where they are and why they’re there at any point of their journey through your interface.
By clearly communicating how everything on your interface interrelates, users are much more likely to understand the purpose and value of what they’re looking at and interact accordingly. They’re also less likely to become disoriented and are more likely to perform a desired action, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or placing an item in their basket.
Understanding the perspective of your users is important. By empathizing with their needs, you’ll be able to see problems and challenges from their perspective and tweak your products, services, and UI accordingly.
6. Give feedback
Your website or app should respond to the users’ actions accordingly, or else they might assume that something is wrong. When users enter the correct credentials or information, their actions should be acknowledged with a green checkmark or a similar indicator. When they do something incorrectly, show them how they can correct the error or undo their mistake.
7. Humanize your brand and your interface
People won’t connect with code, text, or devices. User experience design is enhanced when you remind your audience that they’re not just interacting with an interface, but with the people who designed it as well. Humanize your brand and make it clear that you’re trying to connect with your audience by telling a story. This in turn will make your site or app more interesting and enjoyable to use.
Conclusion: It’s not just about being useful
When properly designed, user interfaces are both navigable and useful. They also help end users, and the businesses that create them, achieve their objectives. But a positive user experience isn’t the only takeaway from great UX design. When done consistently over time, great UX design also helps businesses build trust and enduring relationships with users.