UX? What’s That?

UX? What’s That?

We recently spoke about UIs (User Interfaces for those who were not privy to my fabulous blog post of yore). Well now I’m going to take you back another step and try to hit on the whole User Experience (Get it? UX) – which is really the first step.

You can’t make a great UI without first understanding what a great User Experience should be.

Sometimes it’s easy… super easy. Doorknobs for example, offer a great user experience. Somebody needs/wants to get through a door to the inside/outside, they walk up… turn the handle and – wahlah! They get what they wanted/needed! Success!

Usually it’s not that easy. But whether the UX is easy or more difficult to design, it can still be amazing to the end-user. You just have to think of them first!

So how do we think of the user first? Here is the way I initially approach it.

The UX process:
When I try to create an amazing customer-centric user experience, my first task is to really get to know the audience. Who are the people we talking to and what are their goals and needs?

It all starts there. We ask the users, we go through previous data we might have, we do our research.

Then we break those users down into more distinct personas. We more than likely have a variety of users who have the same (or very similar) need or desire, but are not the same in how they would typically get to them. They think differently and interact with things differently based on a variety of factors.

There are also customers who have a different need, but what we do or the product we provide will also solve for that as well. So we try to break those down as well so we can begin mapping the best possible way to allow them to get to where they ultimately desire to be.

Once we have that laid out we can begin looking at the touch-points (and channels) it will take to get them there and map out a way to make it as easy and beneficial as possible to get to that goal.

Now it’s a matter of making sure to build this principle and thought process into each channel of consumer interaction (on and offline). It’s not just about the web or the shop or the smart phone, but all the pieces together that give the truly valuable user experience.

And we test. We test with customer conversations, surveys, usability and whatever other ways we feel have validity with this particular user.

Once you have that, you can begin building and creating the products/ processes/ layouts across all channels (or even just one). And here we get to test it some more, because as people and their interaction with new technology as well as media changes, so will these touch-points.

Nothing ever stays the same for long. Everything is evolving and the more we test and evolve with it the more we give the user the best experience they can get… and isn’t that the goal?

Isn’t that what you would want for yourself?

Make an amazing UI

Make an amazing UI

That’s User Interface for those of you still learning the ins and outs of all things Interactive.

I’m working with a client who has this amazing product. It fills a void, it services a whole sub-industry of people who have nothing like it now and it is a transparent overlay for many existing products that hundreds of thousands of people use currently.

Here is the issue… nobody will ever use it. Why? The UI.

Today we are all used to things being amazingly easy. Apple was the first to give us products that although perhaps not truly easy to use, looked and felt easy to use! That’s the key. Make life easier for somebody! Make it simple… or at least FEEL simple AND fill their need and you will have won them over.

You can give somebody the most powerful, chock-full-of-ingredients tool in the world, but if they can’t get it rolling without an instruction booklet or how-to video, you have lost them… Ikea furniture and Christmas morning tricycles not-withstanding since those are obligatory items we must have no matter the inescapable difficulty.

But, when it comes to online products there are just way too many of them out there (I know, I know… nothing is as good as yours!) to offer people something that isn’t incredibly intuitive and easy to use. They will just install something else as soon as they become frustrated. It’s just that easy with digital products at an ever-growing high and today’s super speedy download times.

So what makes a great UI?

Well, we talked a bit about the KISS factor (keep it simple, stupid) already, but what does that mean? Yes, there really are standards, but everything varies from product to product and audience to audience. What will work with one target group may not work with another (this also holds true in the same industries with slightly different target audiences – think Pepsi and Coke for example), so don’t read this or any article (although 7 unbreakable laws of user interface design is a very good go-to for UI tidbits) and think you can build the perfect UI on your own!

Also, remember TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING! People interact with all things digital very differently now than they did even 6 months ago. Don’t get stuck! Grow, change and evolve! Everything is in beta when it comes to Interactive!

For now though, here are a few things that should help:

  • Noticeable call to action buttons in stand-out colors for the main “actions” a person needs to take to get what they need
  • Make sure those CTAs (calls to action) are at the point of action
  • Also make sure those CTAs are actual ACTIONS (eg: Buy Now, Save and Exit, DO IT NOW!, etc.)
  • Simple fonts and focus
  • Make it visually attractive (but stylish based on brand, message and audience)
  • Keep icons obvious (don’t make people click around until they figure it out)
  • Break it down when there are more than a few steps (especially important for purchasing, shopping carts, registrations, etc.)
  • Don’t ask too much! The fewer questions, requirements the better
  • Add social for virality but do it AFTER the user gets what they need
  • Make it even easier for your user by using Google or facebook login options, if possible (no, I’m not promoting Vimeo – they don’t need me for that), just showing you their login options)

This is far from a complete set of items that you may or may not incorporate into your Interactive products design, but it’s a start.

Here are a few more good places for more thoughts and ideas: