Famous last words when it comes to UI/UX: “Let’s just do it all in HTML.”
Look, there may be instances where HTML can be a part of the solution – but there are certainly better ways to approach such a critical piece of your application or service. Let’s start here, working with a solid user experience and user interaction design is absolutely critical. You can have the best application or service out there, but if the UI/UX is horrible, no one will ever use it. Gartner recently pointed out that user experience (UX) design is an increasingly critical component of competitive strength. With the elevation of the UX discipline, what was once limited to Web design now leads innovation in product development, customer strategy and even business transformation. UX/UI is has become a source of business advantage, as it’s now on boardroom agendas and a conversation topic in the executive suite.
That said, I’d like to share some real-world ‘fails’ when it comes to UI/UX. This is a collection of things I’ve seen or projects that I’ve worked on where UI/UX could have used some improvements.
- Inconsistency in the design and user experience. Any form of inconsistent experience can be an absolute application or service killer. In fact, if your app or design don’t perform ‘intuitively,’ you’re going to lose your user. Why does this keep happening? See my next point.
- Stop designing for UX designers, focus on the user! Too often I see designers get lost in the design process because, honestly, they’re super smart and savvy. Unfortunately, this also means that I the creation UI/UX architectures based on their own assumptions and mentality. They forget about user profiles, how users might interact with the UI, and worst of all – they don’t do their research.
- UX and UI are two different things. UI focuses on user interactions with a service, website, or application’s interface. User experience focuses on the overall design and how users ‘feel’ when they access the app or service. You can’t forget about one or the other. You might have a great flow from a UI perspective, but if user experience is lacking, you’ll miss out on the whole design.
- Sure, it looks great, but did you test it? There are some great tools, even automated ones, that will help you conduct user acceptance testing alongside prototyping the entire UI/UX process. Too often I see this as a real oversight. Getting automated alongside real-world feedback will only make your design that much better.
- ‘Slow is the new down’ – Be sure to focus on good design, and not overkill. Let me point out a really interesting study done by Akamai. Their research stated that a two-second delay in web page load time increase bounce rates by 103 percent. Furthermore, 53 percent of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. To avoid the dreaded ‘loading…’ scenario, you really need to make sure you UI/UX design are streamlined and tested for multiple platforms. Which brings us to the next point.
- Please don’t leave mobile UI/UX design for the very last second. That very same Akamai report said that half of consumers browse for products and services on their smartphones. Are you really surprised? You’re probably reading this blog from your phone as it is. Optimization for mobile devices is absolutely critical and must be undertaken from the first design phases.
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Let’s shine a bit of light on these design fails with a few design best practices. Building off of our previous list, getting UI/UX right doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Consider the following:
- Define user goals and conduct user-focused research. This one is pretty straightforward. You shouldn’t really even move past the whiteboarding phase until you do some good user-focused research. This can entail everything from how they’d interact with a ‘hypothetical’ interface to simply asking them how they like to consume the content. Your UI/UX journey absolutely must start here.
- Users love simplicity, consistency, and clarity. It can look great, it can be super fancy, it can even be really expensive. However, if it’s confusing, slow, and inconsistent, you’ll lose your users. In fact, users crave consistency, simplicity, and clarity. Your goal is to reduce frustration and engage the user. Getting overly flashy can absolutely come back to bite you later.
- Keep UI/UX balanced – know when to get creative and know when to use common designs and patterns. Here’s the bottom line – getting too creative in some instances might actually backfire. You really don’t want your users thinking too hard about common elements and design flow. Let me give you an example. Tesla’s Model 3 was a major design shift from traditional cars. That’s why that dashboard might not be for everyone. Think about your users; do you really want to that far into design differentiation? Don’t get me wrong, creativity has its place in UI/UX. Just know when to have a good balance.
- Know how users will interact with your application or service first and create good design hierarchy. Users want to flow through an app or service that allows them to ‘think less’ and interact more. This is where UI/UX can be really intuitive. It’s really important to create design hierarchy around the elements users are interacting with. Your users will instinctively pay closer attention to order, size, shape, and priority of various elements you insert. So, design accordingly.
Of course, there are a lot of other ways to improve UI/UX designs. Out of all of these points, however, I’d highly recommend simply starting with the user. Getting to know what they do and how they operate will ultimately help you design a UI/UX structure that really world.
Otherwise, keep an eye on the above design ‘fails’ and create a user experience that can really get people excited to user your apps and services.
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