“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
Of late, user experience design has emerged as a factor crucial to the success or failure of a product. Designing for a good user experience (UX) has turned out to be essential. It includes everything, from information architecture and visual design to usability, interaction design, and prototype development. More importantly, the UX design is not just about design. It is about creating an engaging experience resulting in customer satisfaction.
A great experience is hard to create and deliver and there’s no definitive formula to get it. But there are some key principles that can help to broaden the perception of user experience design, which is still a widely misunderstood term, even within the design community. Here are these 5 essential elements of a great UX Design.
1. User-Friendly Information Architecture
Information architecture (IA) is the science of organizing, labeling, and classifying the content of a website, apps, or software. The goal is to create a website structure that helps users understand and find the content they need.
Even an attractively designed and well-optimized site can fall flat without user-friendly information architecture. If the website visitors can’t find the information easily, using the website navigation, they’ll leave your site and most probably take their business to your competitors.
The following three things will help you create user-friendly information architecture:
- Users: The target audience, who are looking for particular information from your services.
- Context: What kind of information are you providing to the target audience? In what terms are you providing the information to your audience? Content: What is the type of information, are you offering your users to read, access or use such as texts, images, videos, or quotes? Content is all about engaging the users and providing value
Information architecture UX can be referenced as the keystone of a digital product. It helps design the navigational context of your services, and if the base is strong, the experience will be stronger.
2. Good Interaction Design = Good UX
“Interaction Design (IxD) defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond. Our practices are evolving with the world.” — The Interaction Design Association (IxDA)
To be more specific, interaction design is focused around user behaviors, how they think and how they expect the user interface of a website to work. Here’s a list of key interaction design principles:
Being consistent is the key to creating successful interactions with a website or app. For e.g., if the navigation menu is placed at different positions, looks different, or behaves differently across pages, it would lead to confusion.
A website should be consistent in relation to the following elements of interaction design:
- Consistent content, for e.g. same words or phrases should not convey different meanings across different pages or interactions.
- Typographic consistency, such as font face, font size, font decoration, etc.
- Color consistency, including text color, background color, etc.
- Consistent navigation menu design, positioning, and behavior
- Consistent-looking hyperlinks
Website users should be able to perceive interaction opportunities within a website. Provide visible clues to users about when to start an interaction and identify interaction signals. Using different calls to action text or graphics, such as ‘start a demo’, ‘download’, etc. will help users interact easily with the website.
Following elements improve the perceivability of interaction:
- Readable text
- Easily distinguishable and legible icons
- Hyperlinks with different colors from other content
Make the interaction predictable. Users should have a clear idea of what a particular interaction will lead to and what the steps involved are.
For e.g., while purchasing a product on an eCommerce site the user should be able to see trail navigation of all the steps he needs to follow, such as filling out personal information, delivery address, payment information, and checking out. Providing numbering for each step involved in a process, and displaying estimated time required to complete these steps will further increase the predictability of the interaction.
In most cases, users don’t have much patience to wait for a particular request to process, and they often abandon interactions if they don’t have a clue what’s going on in the background.
Therefore, providing visual clues or text messages while a request is being processed will give the user a clear picture of what’s happening within the application.
3. Good Usability Design
Usability means enabling users to effectively attain their end objective with a product. Poor usability leads to the bad user experience.
From the user’s perspective, usability is very crucial as it helps users complete their task precisely, and users can check it with an enjoyable mood rather than feeling stupid. And, from the developer’s aspect, usability is an important principle when it comes to determining the success of a system.
For good usability design, here are the 3 things to consider:
- Effectiveness – How users can interact effectively with a product; how easily a product can be operated, and how the product is beneficial to the user
- Efficiency – How users can complete a given task and reach a specific goal in a short time
- Satisfaction — How users can get satisfaction by using particular information, service, or a product
Usability is an essential consideration for UX designers as it helps in achieving better customer engagement and increase in online sales with better ROI.
4. Great Visual Design
Visual design plays an important part in the user experience, and the users will know what they need to react to and what not. It consists of Information design and visual design.
Information design is aimed at the presentation of information in a way that users are able to understand it. It involves navigation schemes, table of contents, visual hierarchy, and more, so that end users can navigate easily through the information.
Visual design is the final step in the design process that gives the look and feel to the entire structure of the information. The main objective of visual design is to shape as well as improve the user experience through considering the effects of photography, typography, illustrations, spaces, colors, and layouts on the usability of products and on their aesthetic appeal.
5. Planned User Research
“User research is how you will know your product or service will work in the real world, with real people. It’s where you will uncover or validate the user needs which should form the basis of what you are designing” – Chris Mears, UX
User research is another essential part of the design process that shouldn’t be ignored by UX designers. It’s quite apparent that if you are designing for users, you must research user needs, requirements, and expectations. Therefore, user research proves to be a highly effective tool that supports UX designers in making better design decisions.
Listed below are the user research guidelines that will help you in making informed decisions about UX design.
Measuring Metrics of Success
Any type of research or study is worthless if you can’t accurately measure the outcomes. Therefore, it’s critical to measure design success to derive value from research activities.
There are two ways of measuring UX design success – quantitative and qualitative.
- Quantitative methods include analyzing click-through rates, conversion tracking, and other analytical metrics. It provides a deep understanding of user behavior.
- Qualitative methods include assessing the ability of users to navigate the UI effortlessly, and their ability to complete a set of tasks. It adds credibility to your research findings.
Thus, it’s advisable to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques in measuring design success.
Prototyping involves evaluating a prototype with potential users to understand how a user interface or the web application looks and behaves in a real-world scenario. A prototype gives you a good idea about how a particular product, website, or app will respond to user inputs, and what improvements can be made in the product’s design to make it feasible.
Prototyping proves to be a great way to keep a design project on track and helps you predict a possible course of design activities.
Focusing on Research Goals
It’s very important to keep the focus on research goals while conducting user research. Conducting research won’t make much sense if the development team isn’t sure about the impact of research on the final product.
To keep the research focused on the design goals, it is better to answer questions such as to what extent the research will influence the product design. Will it help improve the interactions with end users? Or you just want to conduct the research to justify your design approach?
To conclude, there’s no sure-shot way to achieve good user experience design, but by following the 5 above-mentioned elements, one can get closer to meet their UX goals and fulfill the end users’ requirements. This, further, helps in driving the revenues and delivering good user experience.