Designing great digital products is hard. You have to envision something that will consistently delight people so they want to engage with it over and over again. That’s why UX is so important to the success of any software, mobile or Web app.
Today’s consumers are not going to be satisfied with a digital product that is just functional - it also has to appeal to a range of their emotions by being easy to use and learn, simple, familiar, and engaging. There are dozens of little things that need to fall into place to create meaningful user experiences. And any one of those things can actually drive a quantum-leap improvement in the user experience of your digital product.
If you want your product to deliver exceptional UX, putting yourself in your target users’ shoes is only a first step. You’ll have to go deeper to understand their needs, wants, and expectations as they relate to interaction with your product. And you’ll get that level of insight through usability testing performed as part of iterative design process. Ideally, you’ll test elements of UX design throughout the product’s lifecycle, because users’ expectations will change over time.
As a renowned UX expert Jared Spool (@jmspool) eloquently put it - “Users don’t want our designs to be consistent. Users want our designs to meet their expectations. Only sometimes are those the same.”
Now let’s look at the six principles of UX design that some of the most successful digital products follow.
Personalization is a huge trend in web and mobile design. Users are now looking for experiences that are tailored to their specific needs. For example, if a user visits an e-commerce website, they want to see product suggestions that align with their interests or past purchases. An interface that “knows” what a user wants from interaction with a product or a service never fails to impress.
Examples of this are Amazon’s product recommendation system or Netflix’s suggestions on what to watch next. Personalization makes a user feel like the UX is designed just for them and this can have a great impact on engagement and retention.
Simplicity Above All
The best UIs are the ones that get out of the way and provide the user with simple, easy to understand tools. The less cognitive load you put on your users, the better your UX will be. The keywords here are clarity and consistency. You can design your web or mobile app to be extremely visually appealing, and that’s a great accomplishment. However, people can admire its aesthetics only for so long - their primary goal of interacting with your app is to complete a certain task. Digital products have to help users solve problems. So, try to achieve simplicity in design and focus on few main functions.
If you add excessive design elements that are there for decor rather than to make the app more functional, you’re just going to make it harder for users to accomplish their tasks. Users appreciate simple and clean visual design because it’s easy to understand and it makes interaction with the interface effortless.
Ask yourself this question - can users understand how to accomplish their tasks the first time they interact with your product?
Every time you start using a new digital product you expect the interaction to resemble the interactions you have already learned. And this is only natural. We expect products to behave in a way that we understand so we don’t have to invest too much time or thought into figuring out how to use them.
If you decide to design a UI that is going to break some of the navigation patterns that most users are used to, you’ll need to invest in proper onboarding and guide your users until they feel comfortable using your product. And users are not always comfortable with novelties so you need to avoid frustrating them at all cost - keep in mind that not being able to find an otherwise useful feature or to figure out how to use it is a major source of frustration for users.
We’ve touched upon the importance of onboarding earlier, but it is so often overlooked that it deserves its own section. Good onboarding experience is important because it’s your first point of contact with new users and first impressions count! If users have to spend time deciphering how to use your product, they may decide that your product isn’t something that will benefit them.
When it comes to onboarding, what works best is dependent on the complexity of your product. However, as a general rule, you should make this process as simple and seamless as possible, guiding your users through your product and highlighting its value.
The Power of Delight
When it comes to the UX of digital products, delight can often be tough to define. Every UX designer out there would want to create an experience that delights users and keeps them coming back. But delight is also very difficult to tie to a specific element of design and is abstract in a way.
To achieve delight, the entire user experience needs to be effortless and enjoyable. This is everything but easy, but the rewards are big enough to put in the effort and figure out how to achieve this for your particular product.
Don’t Forget to Test your Ideas
At SpiceFactory, we run usability tests not just early in the design process, but throughout the product lifecycle (we’ve built a tool for it after all!). There are many options available to test your mobile or web app. Early in the project, you can easily get meaningful feedback by using a usability testing tool and assigning tasks to users.
Later in the product lifecycle, if you want to introduce any changes or new functionality, avoid surveying your users but rather give them an option to test the novelty - and observe how they behave and interact with it. What they do rather than what they say will give you a clearer idea of your user’s satisfaction with your new features.
A good UX is easy to understand, navigate and interact with. It looks good but it doesn’t prioritize aesthetics over usability. Keeping the above 6 principles in focus will help you design digital products and services that offer something unique and original—something that keeps your users happy and your product profitable.