Technology February 14, 2017 Last updated February 8th, 2017 2,179 Reads share

Put the User First to Create Great Digital Experiences

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When it comes to websites and mobile applications, we are presented with a nearly overwhelming number of choices. But despite the vast number of available options, finding excellent user experiences is not an easy task. Great digital experiences sometimes seem to be few and far between.

While we are living in a world where quality user experiences are essential, many businesses and designers fail to take proper steps when designing and developing their websites and mobile apps to ensure that users will enjoy using their app or website. Often following a process that doesn’t even consider the end users. Instead, they focus on adding features, following trends or even concentrating on new technologies that are available.

This is backward thinking that is destined to deliver substandard results. When designing a website or mobile app, the needs of users should be at the heart of each decision that is made.

If your current website or mobile app is experiencing results that are lower than you desire, step back and look at your process and strategy. Are you looking at the needs of your users and accommodating them? Or is your project suffering from a process that has no clear vision on how to succeed?

If you want to create great digital experiences that delight users focus on solving problems for them and avoid creating new ones. Steer clear of creating confusing navigation systems or other similar problems that hinder your users’ ability to interact with your brand.

The following suggestions can help you put your users first and create great user experiences that will delight your users.

Analyze available data

Before you start design on your next website or mobile app, review the data available via your analytics package. Without an understanding of the issues that exist now and what current users like, you will have no idea how to improve the next version.

Dig deeper than looking at the number of visitors you are getting and the bounce rate. By only reviewing basic metrics like this you are ignoring a great deal of useful data. While you are digging into the data, avoid cutting corners mentally.

If you want to be able to pull real insights out of your analytical data, you need to carefully consider it in a logical way. Don’t just quickly jump to conclusions. Examine the facts and look for the details that are behind them. Educating yourself on objective data allows you to make more educated choices as you move forward.

As you proceed, make sure you are tracking the right metrics relative to your goals. Making decisions is more effective when you have a good grasp of pertinent metrics that allow you to review objective results of your activities.

Get user feedback

To be able to improve a digital product, you will need feedback from the current users of the product. Surveys are a great start but truthfully, they generally provide a fairly limited data set. User interviews are a much more valuable source of data to help you understand what actual users think about the current product.

Assumptions about user needs can take you in the wrong direction as you move forward. It is better to learn what the pain points are on the current product and address those to alleviate friction. Additionally, if you want to add new features, verify that they are something that users actually want and need before adding them.

As you proceed with your wireframes and visual designs, make sure you utilize prototypes. These can help avoid mistakes that can be more costly to fix later. Tools like Invision allow you to easily create prototypes that can be used to get feedback from your client as well as target users.  Watch users test the features. Pay attention to the issues they have, what they say and what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and focus on the details of their comments.

Create personas

Do you know who your typical customer is? Without this knowledge, you have no idea how to present information in a way that is most effective. Different customer groups respond differently and you want to make sure your future offering is optimized for your typical customer.

Using the qualitative and quantitative data that you have collected, create a persona or personas for the main groups of customers that do business with your company.  This representative image lets you know who you are designing for as you move forward.  Designing for tech professionals will be different than designing for teenagers.

Create a website that is designed for your persona or personas. Align the design and messaging to the personas and develop a voice that will allow you to connect with them. This includes using the right tone and word choice. Don’t forget to refine you personas over time as you are presented with new information.

Create a purposeful plan

After assembling a base of knowledge that you can act upon, you want to create a purposeful plan to move forward. Prioritize requirements, keeping the end user in mind at all times. Carefully consider the structure and navigation with a keen eye on ease of use. How can you structure your site in a way to facilitate users quickly and easily achieving their objectives? Can you cut down on the number of clicks it takes a user to get to where they want to be?

A key goal of your plan should be to assist users completing intended tasks. Carefully plan how you can streamline the process and eliminate unnecessary clutter that gets in the way of users completing tasks. At the same time, make sure you aren’t creating new issues for visitors.

Make sure you prepare for the launch of the new website. How are you going to let your users know that you have updated the experience? How are you going to support this new experience? Can their questions be answered easily?

Consider design a process

Keep in mind that while the first version of your new user interface may solve several of the issues you discovered during the research phase of the project, it still can be improved. Design should be an iterative process where you are continuously improving based on user feedback and testing. Small variations such as changes to button color or your call to action can make a significant difference in conversion rates.

There isn’t a single formula for success when it comes to user experience, but if you have a plan for continuous improvement you will be setting yourself up for success. Remember to put users first and work to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

Plan on a system for generating feedback and make sure you take advantage of it. If you make it easy for users to provide feedback they can provide you with valuable information that improves future versions of your website or mobile app.

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Kimber Johnson

Kimber Johnson

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