User Experience design (UX) is a hot topic these days and with good reason. Why? Because many companies are discovering that they can create a visually stunning website or mobile app only to find out after it’s live that it isn’t creating conversions because it isn’t particularly usable. Customers are visiting it, saying “wow that looks great” and then abandoning it because it isn’t easy to navigate or use.
Because of this, UX is having a big impact on website, mobile app, and product design right now. Companies are becoming more aware of the importance of usability and are prioritizing user experiences.
UX design creates measurable results and has a strong return on investment. In fact, UX has been shown by Forrester Research to lower costs of customer acquisition, improve conversion rates, increase market share, increase retention, and lower support costs.
Below are 6 UX design principles that can help improve your next projects’ usability.
#1. Be driven by goals
A goal-driven design approach will focus on satisfying the specific wants, needs and desires of users. Often designers do not approach a project from this angle; instead, they frequently will be driven by trends or technology. But in the modern world where users demand a great user experience, a trend or technology-driven approach usually does not usually produce the best results.
A UX methodology is focused on satisfying the user’s needs and wants, which results in higher ROIs. In a study by Neilson, UX was shown to produce an average improvement of key performance indicators (KPIs) of 83%.
Begin by considering how users interact with the current website, mobile app, or product and proceed from there, addressing pain points along the way. Consider yourself a champion for the user and assume you have a responsibility to the people utilizing your website, mobile app, or product.
#2. Design for users
It is important that companies design for their users. While this maybe sounds obvious to many, keep in mind that often a designer will approach a project with other goals in mind, such as, they want to make something that ‘looks awesome’ or they design what they think the client wants to see. A designer can deliver a user interface design that ‘looks awesome’ or is just what the client asked for, only to find out later that it doesn’t meet users’ needs and isn’t converting visitors into customers.
When you design for users it forces you to let go of your opinions and rely on data. Start a design by researching users and mapping out how they use the existing website, mobile app, or product. Create personas for key user groups that you can use to determine how a typical user utilizes the existing product and how you can improve the experience for a typical user. Who is this typical user? How do they use the existing interface? What do they want to accomplish? What are their pain points along the way? What are their limitations? How are they not being served right now?
As you create wireframes and interface designs, test them as prototypes with actual users. Perform A/B tests to determine if you have arrived at an effective solution. It can save a great deal of time and money to test designs before development rather than waiting until they’re live to see what happens. In Robert Pressman’s book, Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, he states, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development and $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.”
#3. Understand current user behavior
Before you can create a better interface, you need to know where the pain points are on the existing one, additionally, you need to know what is working right. To do this you will need to analyze the user experience of the current interface. You will want to interview current users and find out how they’re interacting with the interface now and why they are taking the actions that they do. Discover what is working and where friction is occurring.
In addition to user interviews, find out if customers have given any feedback. Review existing emails that users have sent in where they have complained about the current interface. Often customers will give you important insights while they are complaining about the existing website, mobile app, or product and the issues they had while trying to use it.
#4. Be driven by data
Each of us has a set of personal beliefs and biases that influence our behavior. We often act or make decisions based on these without even thinking about our motivations. However, when it comes to design, personal biases can hinder efforts to improve conversion rates or usability or other key performance indicators.
Many designers will make choices based on personal preferences. While clients do hire designers for their knowledge and skills, it is important to remember that you are not the target audience for the user interface you are working on. By relying on your own beliefs and biases, you may be making some serious errors that prevent success.
Preconceptions and knowledge based on past performance should serve as a guide, but leverage objective data and validated experimentation to be truly effective. Utilize sound testing procedures to deliver valid data for decision making. Only by detaching your own personal biases from the project and letting data be your guide, can you truly work to improve KPIs. Embrace a process where you test, learn, create and then test again to drive conversions and other KPIs.
#5. Put a focus on the content
When a user arrives at a website or downloads a mobile app, their mind is on the content. They are thinking about the writing, images, or videos that are presented and not the navigation. Unfortunately, content is sometimes the last thing on many designers’ minds.
A visually beautiful website or mobile app can be practically useless if it isn’t showcasing the content. Make sure it is part of your plan to display the content prominently, attractively and effectively. Consider the existing brand image along with the wants and needs of the target audience. Then work to showcase the content in a way that is easy for users to not only find but easy to absorb and process. Remember, the right formatting of content can make a big difference when it comes to comprehension and retention of data.
#6. Eliminate pointless elements
While most modern websites and mobile apps generally don’t contain some of the more obviously pointless elements of the earlier days of the internet and mobile apps, there still is a tendency by many to include more than is needed. These extra items essentially become clutter. Streamline your user interface to help users complete their intended tasks by removing unnecessary items.
To evaluate what is necessary and what is not, do so from the user’s point of view. Does an element help them reach their goals? Is an element pointless clutter? How does an element make a user feel? By considering how the various elements of an interface affect the user’s journey, you can eliminate items not needed by users and streamline the process into something that better meets their needs.