User Experience – How to get it right? is the eight article in the Ultimate Graphic and Web Design Basics Guide. It was meant for those looking to get their career started as designers, but also for those that are interested in the design process. Within the following series of the nine articles, and two “bonus tips” articles, we will cover everything you need to know to get started. Stay tuned for the following articles:
- The Basics of Graphic Design: What It Is, and What’s It For?
- Color Theory & Psychology
- Typography: How to choose the proper font
- Layout & Composition
- Photography in Graphic Design
- Branding & Logo Design
- How Graphic Design Translates into Web Design?
- User Experience – How to get it right?
- Modern Trends in Design
- Bonus tip: How to find your first gig
- Bonus tip: How to work with clients
Stay tuned for the full series!
The term user experience has a lot of definitions; each of those definitions is open to interpretation. The definition we chose for this article is as follows.
It’s not rare that people mistake the term “user interface” with “user experience”. This is quite a big mistake to make, considering that the two terms have totally different meanings.
The user interface is how some product/service looks and operates, not what feeling product/service causes in people.
User experience is an aspect of design that focuses on making the design meaningful and understandable for the users. It does that by analyzing and predicting how future first-time users will approach and use the product/service. Every touchpoint a user has with your product/service can be looked at as a micro experience; all those micro experiences combined are what forms an emotional response.
A lot of people think of user experience as a term that is mostly used in the IT industry, but user experience design is a crucial part of all industries that offer any type of product/service, and in all of these industries, the process of user experience designing involves researching, prototyping, testing and much more.
How to do it well
With good user experience design, you can create a bond between the user, the product/service, and the business providing the product/service. A sign of a well-made UX design is that a first-time user can easily navigate and comprehend the design without any form of a guide. Bad UX designs are often overloaded with information, leaving the user confused and overwhelmed. A user in a state like that will most likely make unwanted actions in the design. Designs that are aesthetically appealing aren’t necessarily good designs, and they still might leave the user clueless as to what to do next.
To be able to create a good user experience, you have to be well familiarized with your user base. Once you know the needs of your users, creating a product/service perfect for them will be less of a challenge. You should ask yourself these questions when analyzing your user base. Who/Why will (someone) use my product/service? Where/When/How will my product/service be used?
Creating a user experience is more than just designing, more than deciding on a layout, typography, hierarchy. It also has a psychological aspect, understanding how people are using your product and what they are thinking at that moment.
To be a UX designer, a good one, at least, you have to understand technology and usability. Most importantly, you have to have core knowledge of design. At the end of the day, you will be attempting to establish communication using visuals.
The designing aspect is more practical and can be learned through repeated practice. Being knowledgeable about psychology, technology, and usability is mostly theoretical and can be achieved through research and constant learning.
Another thing to keep in mind about creating a UX design is that it is an iterative process. Now, what does that exactly mean?
It means that the process that consists of designing, testing, receiving feedback, redesigning using that feedback will be repeated as many times as needed to create the “perfect” product/service.
By doing this, you will rule out the unnecessary parts of the design and introduce new necessary improvements.
Why is UX important?
After reading so much about the definition of user experience, you might be wondering, “Well, why is it that important?”, here is why.
Good user experience is the highest level of fulfilling your users’ needs; it gives them what they need, exactly how they need it. All good UX designs are user-centered, putting the users’ needs and preferences first. When you make changes to your design, you are making the changes that the user wants/needs, not the ones you deem as necessary. The way and with how much ease or struggle the user navigates through your site/app will be the determining factor of how good and relevant your design is.
Websites and applications that provide a good user experience rank high in search results and in the app stores. To Google, good UX is a must, and they will never rank high a site that isn’t designed well. If you have bad UX, your ranking isn’t the only thing that will suffer, but you will also not be favorable in Google ads. On sites with good UX, users can easily find what they came looking for, which increases your conversion rates and the number of people doing business with you.
Designs that are seen as trustworthy are the designs that are straightforward and understandable. They are what builds customer loyalty. Bad designs, on the other hand, are what installs doubt and disinterest in the users.
If a site is designed well, it most likely means your content is also displayed well. This is extremely important because no matter how engaging your content is, if you showcase it badly, it won’t be noticeable or appealing.
Finally, if people had a good experience while using your site, you can be sure that it will result in word of mouth referrals.
When a person enjoys a product/service, they don’t hesitate to talk about it to the people in their surroundings. With this, you can get more exposure and awareness about your product/service without investing extra funds in marketing and advertising.
When should you start working on it?
The answer is, right off the bat. Investing time and effort in UX from the beginning will reduce your costs in the long run. How? If from the beginning, your UX design was near perfect, you will have less of a chance of encountering usability issues later. Dedicating a significant amount of time to make a good design, in the beginning, is easier than patching up a bad design later in time. Fun fact, the majority of usability issues can be solved during the prototyping stage.
The basics of user experience
In user experience design, there is something called the user experience honeycomb, which highlights the priorities that should be met in UX designs. The honeycomb consists of the following characteristics:
Every product/service needs to be usable or to be more specific, easy-to-use, so that a first-time user doesn’t struggle the first time he/she interacts with the product/service. This is why all designs should be created as understandable and shouldn’t require a huge learning curve in the beginning.
A usable design is a design in which a user can achieve the end goal with as little effort as possible, for example, without having to do too many clicks and scrolls.
Each time you make a change in your design, you need to think whether the new feature is truly usable. Along with making it usable, for every change/addition in your design, you should provide a simple guide for your users so they can get used to it more easily.
Everything is created to serve some kind of purpose, and if it doesn’t, then it’s simply necessary or outdated. Usefulness also is dependent on the market you are advertising to.
To make a product/service useful for a big number of people, companies will offer personalized versions to their customers so they can each modify the product specifically for their needs.
The saying “it’s all about the looks” can be interpreted as true in UX design. Besides the looks in UX, it’s also all about the level of quality, innovation, and creativity you get within a product or service. A product/service needs to be marketable and sought after, in other words, desirable.
Even if your product is literally a puzzle, it should be clear and easy to navigate. When using your product/service, your user should be able to move through and explore it freely. Like previously mentioned, to find what they came for in the fastest way possible.
UX even has something of a rule that outlines how many items are acceptable in a navigation menu before it starts being confusing or overwhelming. This all doesn’t mean that your design shouldn’t be rich with elements and features; it just means that it shouldn’t be too complex.
Your product/service will, of course, have its target audience, but that doesn’t mean it should exclude any type of user from being able to use it. This refers to users with full abilities, and the ones with limited ones. Besides the legal requirements to make your product/service suitable for users with limited abilities, you should consider that those users present a market willing to pay for something that they will be able to use with ease.
The company and its product/services have to be credible and not shady in any way. The user has to see them as trustworthy. Otherwise, they will be pushed away to do business with the competition.
Trust and credibility are gained by being ethical and fair, and by offering products/services of top-notch quality.
A product/service has to hold value to both the business and the customer. Different people will view different things as valuable, so knowing your customer base is crucial in making your product/service valuable. The key to making a valuable product is to find a balance between making a profit and treating your users in the best way possible, both things of interest to you.
Getting the UX right is a challenging yet quite interesting road to undertake. Apart from handling the basics outlined in this article, it will take a lot of testing and implementation of feedback to get it right. Still, considering the importance of UX in every design, it is very much worth dedicating your time to it.