Designing a great user experience means finding the perfect balance between creativity, usability, accessibility and simplicity. Whether you are developing a handheld device or creating a web application, the fundamental principles governing your design designs are usually going to be the same, since the end goal is always to provide an engaging experience for the end-user, while displaying all important information and options in a clear and concise manner.
In today’s highly competitive global market, UX can make or break a new startup. Whether you’re a designer, a developer or even a non-technical member of the team, you have something to contribute to the final design. While this article is written with a focus on tech startups creating new web or mobile applications, keeping these three simple things in mind for your next UX meeting will help anyone:
With new startups being created every day, and the average half-life of mobile apps, the time after peaking where they lose half their users (presumably to newer, more innovative apps in the same category), being between 2 and 7 months depending on the category, the biggest factor determining the success of a new application is being creative and different, in a meaningful and engaging way. Longer running services and applications constantly update their UX and what they offer to keep their users from moving on to the next “big thing”.
As a new startup, you will almost certainly have competitors offering a similar, if not exactly the same, product. Knowing what else is out there, attracting your target market, is an important first step in determining how you are going to be different, better, “nicer”.
Being fresh and different can mean any number of things, but from a UX design perspective, you should try to follow the latest design trends, while being innovative and creative enough to attract and keep your target users. Take your time using other applications in the same category, see what works and what doesn’t. Look to other categories for UX inspiration and be creative with your final approach, without unnecessarily complicating the final experience in the process.
KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
I know the acronym gets thrown around a lot, but it’s especially important to remember in the tech world where flat UIs, simple shapes and clean, responsive layouts have taken center stage.
Try to keep your application feeling as “light” as possible. Give the user all the necessary information without overly cluttering your look and feel. On a landing page for example, where you might have a number of posts, it is almost always necessary to summarize or condense the content to allow space for more posts and images. I like to use the same concept throughout my designs: display what you need to display, don’t leave out anything important, focus attention on places you want your users to be drawn to, without spamming them with ads and “buy” buttons.
Use Effective “Calls To Action”
The easiest way you can create a negative impact on your overall experience is by making the user feel “bombarded” with information or pressured into paying for your product or service. However, properly executed calls to action are important for any application to be monetized properly. A call to action focuses the user’s attention on an action or number of steps that you want them to complete, while encouraging and enticing them to do so.
A well designed call to action should:
- grab the user’s attention (images, different background and font, etc.)
- efficiently and effectively convey the benefits of the action (clear, concise wording)
- entice the user (discounts, special offers, etc.)
- use words that convey a sense of urgency (Act Now!, Limited time offer!, Don’t miss out!)
Designing a complex UX can be a daunting, but ultimately rewarding process. Remember to keep things simple, and focus the user’s attention clearly and attractively.
After launch, you should constantly look to update your UX as modern design trends and development techniques shift and evolve. Come up with a UX design cycle and stick to it, ensuring that your application will continue to be usable and attractive as devices and trends change.
Lastly, use a professional! While knowing the ABCs of UX design through articles like this and primers are important for everyone involved with the project, a professional UX design process covers issues that you will miss unless you have been trained and are experienced in this field.
Let me know if you have any further design tips, or questions regarding design tips, in the comment.