The principle of User Experience has not changed in the past few decades; our approach to UX, on the other hand, is constantly evolving. User experience is the means, not the end to a problem; the process is never ending. The art of balancing user needs and brand message is an important element. We already have many trends rolling out in pace with the technology, and it all boils down to knowing what to use when.
Truly understanding your user
In the race to catch up with the latest trends and continuing to do what exists, we forget the most important aspect – users. It sounds like UX 101, but this is where many designs lose vision. We forget to find out what the users need and instead assume what they want. As a result, most websites look alike and most experiences feel the same. One may argue that it is efficient and gets the job done. I agree, but what you haven’t tried out may get greater results. Grab the better one, always.
Do you really need a compulsory registration, does your customer have to go through 5 pages before buying a product, and does that information about the company founders on the home page help in any way? Your average user probably does not. The definitive answers to these can be found with some user research, but it’s important to ask these questions. One such case in point was when we designed a simple, no-scroll landing page for a real-estate client. The users had only the most important information presented to them without the frills. The main CTA on the mobile version was a callback feature, which encouraged users to drop just their numbers, without giving out much personal information in an enquiry form.
Rather than add a feature because the competitors do it or because it helps with ROI, we need to achieve the same without turning off the user. Find creative ways to add new dimensions to the user journey, a perspective for every type of user.
Satisfying the outliers
With technology advancing each day and the number of devices multiplying, we have a greater challenge to cater to every member of the community. Crafting experiences that are inclusive to all can be a challenge, and the key to achieve that is by understanding that there is no single approach to every problem.
There are plenty of avenues to bring in more users, increase conversions and make more money for the clients. The need of the hour for many businesses is to take it further and this is where UX fits in nicely. Instead of concentrating on what the majority of the customer base is thinking; we need to start looking at what the minority wants. In many mobile versions of our websites, we come across devices that are used by less than 15% of the users but we have ensured that they have a similar experience of browsing as the rest. Customizing to each device size is a little work, but it yields good results in the long run. Begin by understanding how the bottom 20% of the users behave and find ways to enhance the experience for them. Tap into all of your demographics and include the lesser-used browsers; the aim is to have a consistent user experience for all.
Personalization is important; users want to feel that businesses are directly talking to them. A good design gives them that without compromising on brand message and end-goal.
Decluttering without handholding
The last few years saw design minimalism in websites and apps – hamburger menus, single color & typeface, flat icons and hidden sections (the footer especially). This approach clearly works because the style is simple without distracting the user. It is a linear thought process, taking the users from Point A to Point B without making them think about anything else.
While minimalism will be around for a long time, it needs to be handled without being overdone. In the name of de-cluttering many websites and apps have dumbed down their journey so much that users feel powerless. No one likes to be told what to do and it is something that we should avoid. It is crucial to let the users decide how they want to fulfill their needs; the job of user experience is to ensure that the process is coherent and seamless. Gently push, don’t shove.
It can be as simple as having more options during the checkout process – can the customer continue as a guest user, can the customer login through any of social media accounts instead of a compulsory registration or Gmail signup? Test different options to see what works for your business and implement them in the longer run.
We are surrounded by best practices and latest trends that come out every week. They are good to implement but don’t get too caught up in them, always ask if it’s the right one for your user base. We need interfaces that are efficient & data-driven, not just what is in. Create memorable experiences that would bring a user back and make them remember you for a long time.