User experience: You’ve heard of it, but what does it mean? What does it affect? Why is it important? All great questions…shall we get started?
Arguably, the most important thing to consider when doing user-experience- focused design is grasping audience attention. Do you want to sell skateboards online? If so, you probably want to think of targeting your advertisements and web experience to young, athletic adults.
Now, the tricky part of this is not pigeonholing your design toward one user type. Counter intuitive? Map out all the user types you would expect to visit your website and come up with a way to make your online shopping cart easy to use for both 18-year-old Johnny Doe, as well as Jane Doe, his 54-year-old mother, buying the skateboard for his birthday.
UX is a strategy used for designing processes that users interact with. This is most frequently referenced when designing for web, but it doesn’t stop at the digital world. Here are some examples of UX in our daily lives:
- Bus routes
- Checking into a hotel
- Being served at a restaurant
- Filling prescriptions
- Changing settings on the TV
- Shopping in a mall
It may be strange to think that some of the listed items start with a UX design process. A good user experience design should be invisible to the end users.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of patents are filed through the U.S. Patent Office. Most new inventions are created to make specific tasks easier. There is a constant need and desire to make things more accessible and effortless.
Let’s jump back into the beginning of the digital age. The first website was introduced in 1991. Those who owned a computer in the early 90’s can vouch that there was a pretty strong learning curve for this brand new technology. Home computers and the concept of the Internet were unique and unfamiliar, and designing for this new concept was in its infancy. No one really knew how people would interact with this thing since there were very few users of computers at the time. There were precedents that needed to be set for UX, and now after 25+ years there are a lot of studies on what works, and what doesn’t.
We have become spoiled with good UX design, so it is easy to tell when more work is needed to create a successful design. The attention span of current web users is so short that 55% only spend 15 seconds on a website. Still think your website doesn’t need a refreshing new look with great UX? Think again.
Think about an average morning: Alarm clock buzzes, coffee maker brews, and smart phones need to be checked. All of these mechanisms have been designed to be easy and simple to use, and those are just the ones used before 9:00 a.m. How many things do you interact with on a daily basis that have been specifically created to make your life easier or more luxurious?
With an ever-growing number of people partaking in personal technology, the world is learning at a remarkable rate what people want. Smart devices have allowed designers to dive into more personal and advanced UX. A person can go into a physical store, download the store’s app, and view an interactive map of the store’s floor plan. Not only is this type of user experience portable, but it makes everything more efficient.
User experience is being studied for a number of reasons, from personal safety to outright enjoyment. From a marketing standpoint, the better the UX, the more successful the business. A grocery store with an intuitive shopping environment, a drive-thru car wash, a restaurant with attentive staff, or a tech company with an easy-to-use website are all examples of businesses working for their audience.
Consumers are more likely to use or shop for items based on how simple their experience was. The inspiration for user experience is the phrase, “Don’t make me think.” If a user can get from point A to point B with little effort and thought, you’ve done your job.
Some of the best technological UX design is meant to resemble human nature. Have you ever entered your password wrong and the login box shook at you? That small animation is a human gesture letting the audience react to a “no” head shake directing them to the error made.
We have learned that hiding distracting information and consolidating actions into fewer steps makes the process easier to digest. Letting users see how long a process takes helps users comprehend time expectancy on any given task. It is in our nature to want to see the end of something before starting—a race, a book, a road trip, or a blog.
It is easy to forget how integrated technology is in our everyday lives, until it is not available. The various intuitive processes we depend on came into being through extensive studies and research that created a natural and invisible user experience.
When starting your own design process, think of the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Do your ideas complicate things or make them easier? Does the process feel intuitive and natural? Choose your two most drastically different users and plan their journey through your design. Once it feels smooth…try it ten more times.
Whether you are planning an event, creating a new company advertisement, or designing a new web interface, UX design should be a top priority. Pay attention to studies and ask your users questions. Find out what people want and how it can be handed to them. Work with an intelligent team that has experience with UX design and look into all possible routes before committing to the first idea.