Although the importance of great user experience has been bandied around for years, and there has been plenty of talk about it, very few have really gone through the trouble of creating it. But, ever since Google and Facebook changed the way they analyze content and shifted their focus to prioritizing high-quality content over that containing poor marketing practices and cheap click-bait titles, the importance of user experience has skyrocketed, and everybody has been making an additional effort.
This also means that those providing a certain product, service, or content need to look at everything they put out through the eyes of their users, which sounds incredibly simple in theory. However, in reality, we cannot directly influence the way content consumers and customers will react. On the other hand, there are plenty of things we can do to make sure that the chances of them having a pleasant user experience are as high as possible. It can be anything from the way your website or app is laid out, to providing outstanding customer support.
This is both liberating and somewhat terrifying, because everything we do can be a double-edged sword, which is why we have selected 20 tips straight from the mouths of industry pros to help you create a great user experience for your audience.
1. User Experience Applies to Everything
Although the first thing that springs to anyone’s mind when user experience is mentioned is that it’s something web developers are responsible for, it’s actually a lot bigger than that. User experience can take on many different shapes and can appear across multiple disciplines, such as design, or marketing. It can be anything from having a well-thought out online presence, or providing clear instructions for one’s product, to providing timely technical support.
2. Create Something of Value for the End User
The ultimate goal every content marketer or service should have in mind is to provide something of value for the user, which usually means giving the right information, or a solution to their problem. All of the technical aspect of good user experience are there to support this, and as such, are secondary. It’s all about giving them something they can use or apply in real life.
3. Grab Their Attention
The whole idea behind every design concept, or article, is to grab the user’s attention and get them to look at the content. Writers use numerous techniques to pull the reader in, such as crafting click-worthy headlines, breaking up large chunks of text into smaller sections and paragraphs, either through use of subheadings, numbered lists, or bullet points, using bold and italic letters, as well as visual content, like images, video, and infographics.
4. Receive Direct Input from Users on Your Design and/or Content
Despite the fact that there are many rules and guidelines that explain how to create a stunning user experience, sometimes the best way to test it out is to get your product in front of your users, and listen to their input and ideas, and the way they would go about solving some of the issues you already have.
5. Design Principles Should be Unique for Every Project
As we’ve mentioned before, there are guidelines you can follow which lead to a great user experience, and that also apply to design principles. However, while a certain principle may do wonders for some projects, it may also be the complete opposite of what is needed for another. This means that design principles should be project-specific. If your goal is to inspire, you will follow a specific set of design principles that are related to that goal.
6. Speak the Same Language as Your Users
This one applies strictly to the content you offer to your audience. Aside from adopting a tone that is conversational, yet informative, you should also aim to let them know how your product or a service will benefit them, not just go on about how great it is. This doesn’t mean you should not include a call-to-action, but it does require you to be more subtle about it. Leave them with the option to add your product to their wish list, or allow a free trial.
7. Empathy is the Key
While there are many different factors which create a great UX, such as great content, consistency, or design, perhaps the most important one of them all is your ability to empathize with the end-user, which reflects itself in you being able to establish a firm understanding of what it is that users want to receive.
8. Less Is More
When setting out to design a perfect user experience, most people make the mistake of creating something huge and complex, instead of keeping it as simple as possible. You should be able to boil down your UX design concept to only a few basic principles and services which you will offer to your audience. Avoid throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. Keep it simple.
9. Create Clear Solutions Instead of Offering a Bunch of Features
This bit of advice could be viewed as an extension of the one above, only this one applied to the solutions you provide for the end-user. While being able to customize everything through different features is nice, it is a lot nicer to have just a few options that are capable of solving pretty much everything, isn’t it?
The best products don’t focus on features, they focus on clarity. Problems should be fixed through simple solutions, something you don’t have to configure, maintain, control. The perfect solution needs to be so simple and transparent you forget it’s even there.
10. Be Consistent
Proving a user experience which is continuously outstanding is one of the best things you can do, because it breeds loyalty and separates your company, product, or a service from your competition. Consistency also indicates that you honestly care about offering the best UX, time and time again.
A Consistent Experience Is a Better Experience.
Mark Eberman, interaction designer/UX architect
11. Design UX with People in Mind
When creating a product or an app for different platforms, such as Windows, Mac OS X, or any Linux distribution, instead of focusing on how to make it as compatible as possible with each of those, you should always make the end-user a priority, and the experience using the product through the aforementioned operating systems.
12. Put Your Users First
While every company must be profitable in order to keep going, they need to build their business model around the user, instead of their financial expectations. After all, it is those very users that purchase their products and services, which in turn brings profit, so it seems perfect sense to make user experience their primary objective.
13. Don’t Neglect Mobile Users
It’s safe to say that smartphones have become an extension of our minds and hands, especially in the last couple of years, which means more and more people are turning to mobile platforms. This also requires you to create a great UX for mobile users, as well. Gone are the days of you focusing solely on desktop users.
If your business isn’t mobile friendly, your business is dead.
Jonathan Stark, best-selling mobile technology author.
14. Don’t Require Users to Change Their Habits without a Good Reason
The most challenging route you can take towards creating a pleasant user experience is to require your users to change their existing models of behavior. Even when such a change is for the better, you will have your work cut out, as they may turn to other services which will flatter their current knowledge and skills, but you should by all means go for it.
15. Originality Does Not Warrant Success
Obviously, if your product is both original and superior to that of your competitors, it’s a winning combo, but when choosing between original and better-functioning, you should always opt for the latter. Sometimes, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, only make it better in order to have edge over your competition and provide your user with the ultimate UX.
16. Make Your Product Easy to Understand
Regardless of your niche, it is a given that you will be facing some stiff competition, and that the margins which can provide you with that much-needed advantage are extremely narrow. One of the key elements which can separate you from your competitors is to make your product easy to review and use.
17. More Content Does Not Equal Better UX
This applies both to having too much content, and to content which is overly long and hard to digest. A 500-word article can contain a lot more useful information than the equivalent 1000-word article, and it has the edge of being a quicker read, which is something that is more important nowadays than ever.
The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal, mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher.
18. Make Sure Your UX Idea Is Flawless from the Get-Go
While you may be tempted to run with it without having sorted out all of the potential kinks, and tinker with it later in the process, it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It’s like building a house on poor foundations. No matter how hard you try, there is no way to fix it, and it will eventually crumble.
You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site.
Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, interior designer, writer, and educator.
19. Remember that People Are Complex
In order to design the best possible UX, you also need to know people. Never underestimate their potential for being irrational and illogical. You need to be able to think outside the box here, because users are always a lot more complex than you think.
20. Form Should Always Follow Function
Making something visually enticing, while making it less functional, will never result in a great user experience. Form should always be created to follow function. Creating form for the sake of creating form is a waste of time.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs, technology entrepreneur, visionary, inventor, and co-founder of Apple.
If we sum all the tips into one sentence, we can say that User Experience is all about the user, and putting yourself in their shoes is the best strategy to follow. Remember, good UX can reduce your website bounce rate and keep website visitors on your site. Simply put, quality User Experience can increase the bottom line of your product or service.