The most amazing products, regardless of what they actually “do,” are those with effortless user experiences, helping real humans find the path of least resistance to achieving their goals.
If a user has to think about how to use a product, like wondering if a call-to-action is clickable or not, it’s already too complicated. In his book Don’t Make Me Think, UX professional Steve Krug warns that instruction manuals for products will almost always go unread — at least until a frustrated user turns to it as a last resort.
Why is Simple So Hard?
“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” — C.W. Ceram
But here’s the thing: simple is hard. Sure, there are best practices you can follow for user experience design. There are guidelines for touchability, how big buttons should be, and science behind which colors work well together and what they mean in different cultures and scenarios.
For most design questions, however, there are no easy “right” answers. Every decision you make must be thoroughly researched, thought-through, and tested before it’s implemented. To make it easy for someone to achieve their goal, you have to know what the goal is, who the person is, what barriers might block them from achieving that goal, and the list goes on. So what does this mean for a company with a strict timeline and budget to deliver an “amazing” product?
What You Have to Invest to Get an Amazing UX
“Pay attention to what users do, not what they say.” — Jakob Nielsen
Well-designed products aren’t built on guesswork — they’re built on oodles of user research, which can take up a good portion of time and budget. User research involves watching how people work, conducting customer interviews, doing competitive analysis, and frequently testing the product you’re developing in the hands of real humans.
You have to ask what types of users will be using an app or IoT device, from your power users to your less frequent, casual users, to users who are differently-abled and may need access to a different feature set.
Creating great products involves striking a delicate balance between all of these factors. At Very, we begin every project with a strategy sprint, where we work to define the business needs, the end-users, and the solution we're bringing those users. This is where we define what’s most important for the product so that we can prioritize and make wise choices at key junctures where trade-offs must be made.
In reality, when building a product, there is no end. There will always be things to improve and make better, but you’ll also have constraints, the biggest of which are usually time and budget. Our task is to figure out how to get the most valuable features out the door first — whether you’re looking to monetize the product right away, or your main focus is building a user base.
What’s the ROI of UX design?
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” — Dr. Ralf Speth
Your product’s user experience shows how much — or how little — you care about your users and customers. Bad UX erodes customers’ confidence in an organization, which eventually erodes sales, or hurts retention and productivity if your product is internally focused.
More and more companies, especially Fortune 500 enterprises, are realizing the potential return on investment of UX design and building not only nice-looking, but usable products.
How do you measure your return on investment? It starts by identifying the right KPIs. Begin with the big questions: what does big success for your product look like? Then, you can drill down into more specific metrics, like user retention, conversion rates, or measuring how long it takes for a user to perform a specific task.
Keep in mind that these KPIs can look different for each project, and might not be as simple as “they use the app a lot.” In fact, with the concept of calm design gaining popularity, the most successful user experiences are more likely to be those that offer minimal interruption in the user’s life.
With so many of us constantly bombarded by notifications and messages throughout the day, attention is becoming a valuable commodity. Rather than command all of a user’s attention, the best products will require the least possible amount of it.
The Value of Human-Centered Design (HCD)
"Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology. " — Steve Krug
The most important thing to remember when you’re designing products for humans is that… well, you’re designing products for humans. Not superhumans. Not robots.
This is worth noting because when you’re working with computers, it’s easy to get trapped into the box of how computers think and operate. It takes a lot of work to use computers to facilitate interactions that feel intuitive and human when computers will always do exactly what you tell them to do, no more and no less.
Your design process, your approach to problem-solving, and your team structure need to be built around humans. That includes communication between team members.
One unique practice our designers have at Very is that, in addition to designing the product itself — the UI, and the UX, and the purely visual aspects like colors and branding — we construct the front end as well. To some degree, we actually implement the features that we design. In addition to speeding up the process, this also reduces the chance of miscommunication between designers and engineers. The end result is that the features match up better between the prototype and the actual product.
Bringing It All to Life
Simple is hard, but it’s a lot easier when you’ve got the support of a dedicated, experienced team. If you’re looking for a partner to help you design and develop your next product, reach out to Very’s expert team today.