A digital designer is much like an architect. They are responsible for creating the foundation of a website or product and for making it appealing to the user in question. To do so, designers focus on something called user experience (UX for short), which helps them understand how the user is interacting with the product and how to design with a specific purpose in mind.
Every product, be it a bottle of shampoo or a website, has a specific purpose that users expect it to fulfil. The designer’s job is to express that purpose through functionality and interface clearly. This is why UX needs to be present at every step of the creation process.
But when deadlines and release dates poke you in the back, how can you stay focused and continue to make decisions with the user in mind? By following a few basic principles that will not only make your final product look impressive, but useful as well.
But before we dive into the five principles of good UX design…
What exactly is user experience?
The proper or “academic” definition of user experience is a person’s perception and response that results from the use (or anticipated use) of a product or service. To put it simply, it is the way users connect and engage with a certain product. Pretty straight-forward, right?
Then why is good UX so hard to come by?
Because designers, like the creative people they are, often forget to empathize with the user’s needs and focus too much on creating eye-catching, intricate projects. There is a fine line between good design and useful design, and without translating the needs of the user into efficient and engaging products, spotless design serves no purpose.
As top web design companies point out, for the product to be both pleasant and useful, designers need to follow a user-centered approach on every step of the design process. Otherwise, without good usability, the product is nothing but “nice to look at”.
The following principles will help you keep the user in mind when designing and maintaining your product on the right track.
Good design is easy to digest
The user should not spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what exactly it is that they are looking at. They should be able to get the idea without having to read a 2-page explanation.
To make decisions, users sometimes need guidance. Organizing everything hierarchically, using color, size or various other elements, can help direct the user towards the things they are looking for. This hierarchy can be defined by researching the most common choices of the targeted audience and designing according to them.
Research is paramount in order to understand who you are designing for and which elements need to be brought to the center of attention, so spend time creating a user persona. This way, you can go ahead and create something they can easily digest and understand without having to read a comprehensive guide.
Good design is clear and honest
Honesty should sit at the top of any good business decision, because it is what draws people towards a service or product. If they can’t trust the product, there is little chance they will even trust the brand. Being unclear about your product is not going to make people come back to your webpage ever again.
One good example of this is the way you handle prices. For a user to buy a product, they need to know what they are asked to pay. You know those sketchy websites that make too much use of the “Free Trial” button, and you click that button only to be sent to an auto-billing page? That’s not what any reputable brand should be going for.
Think of how you, as a client, would like things to be shown to you, and then start creating based on that. You wouldn’t want your trust broken, right? So, don’t break the trust of customers either.
Good design is trustworthy
Honesty builds trustworthiness, so once you ensure your product is honestly depicted, you need to continue working on winning users’ trust. Think of it this way: what if I gave you a form to fill with all your personal data, but I would not tell you why I need all that information. Would you willingly complete the task? Chances are, probably not, and you should not ask this from your customers either.
Explaining to users why they need to complete certain tasks builds trust and leads to increased chances of conversion. Provide hones and proper guidance at every step, to reassure them that you have their best interest at heart.
Removing doubt creates fewer concerns for users, ultimately making the product more hassle-free and enjoyable.
Good design is friendly and familiar
You want your design to draw attention and surprise the user, but you want it to convert as well. You need users to go through the sales funnel seamlessly, so why distract them with flashy elements?
Take cross-platform design, for example. You don’t need to make your product look the same from platform to platform if the elements used can not be easily integrated. Users are accustomed to interacting differently with every device they use, so don’t expect them to want your website or app to look the same on their phone and computer.
On the computer, they usually have more time to focus on intricate elements and observe your impressive design, but on a smartphone or other mobile device, they want things to be clean, fast and easy to use. Design platform-friendly content for every OS, using familiar elements that users can easily recognize.
Good design offers solutions
A good idea is not enough to deliver stellar UX design. Implementation is the weapon that will win this game for you. The more things you manage to execute, the less the user needs to work. Delivering simple solutions to complex problems will delight the user and draw them towards your product.
Your ultimate goal should be to convince the user that your product is more than a product. You won their hearts if they start seeing this product as something that makes their lives easier.