“Clutter is one of the greatest enemies of efficiency and stealers of time.”
Imagine you had to solve a riddle written in some foreign language to gain access to your hard-earned money deposited in your bank account? Gruesome, isn’t it? The thrills of puzzles and challenges are exciting and pleasing in fiction games and adventures during leisure time. But when the purpose is to get important work done, ease of use is what pleases people. It is rightly said that “ease of use may be invisible, but its absence sure isn’t.”
The story of each software product that fails to design the product's user experience around user-centric ease of use also falls on similar lines. To better understand how ease of use helps the product to excel, have a look at the image shown below:
No matter how good the product is, if it fails to deliver a captivating user experience, it will never reach the top of the user’s mind.
User experience (UX) is the secret ingredient of any successful product. The simplicity of UX design is not just a facilitator, but also a differentiator. UX design helps the product owners in showcasing the purpose of the product and the target audience that they want to attract.
For instance, the fiercest rivals of the virtual world: Instagram and SnapChat are both image-sharing platforms. But their UX design targets two very different set of audiences. If you have a look at Instagram, the app is passive in nature as it drives the user to the feed and prompts them to watch and like the updates shared by others. On the contrary, SnapChat directs its users straight to the camera (the only source of sharing updates), taking an active approach to better engage the user and compel them to make frequent visits to share moments of their lives with their followers.
So now you know that UX design is essential. But, do you think there is a process that ensures a captivating user experience? Well, there is no rule of thumb to be followed, but there are few disciplines and processes that, if followed by UX designers during the following phases of the development lifecycle, will make the product more likely to deliver a captivating user experience:
1. Preliminary User Identification
A good UX design needs a head-start long before the actual product development. For instance, readable typography is a standard of making a good UX design. But, how can a UX designer determine that the typography design of the product is readable? Well, it totally depends on the users of the product. Designers need to identify whether the app users are senior citizens who need bigger fonts and greater space, or artists who adore bold fonts and designs. The needs and constraints identified by the UX designers during the user experience phase become the cornerstone of a product’s user experience.
2. Research and Data Validation
Once the users are identified, the second phase of UX design is the research and data validation stage to gather important data that defines the end-user behavior. Previously, conventional methodologies based on the secondary research like the study of Points of Parity (POP) and Points of Difference (POD) of the products offered by the competitors were used.
Though, it is important to collect such information, to collect authentic user data, a designer often have to move ahead of conventional data collection methods. There are many instances where designers take a primary research approach to better understand the user behavior.
For instance, to better understand the user experience of Facebook Mobile app users, their UX designers adopted an innovative “reverse laptop hugging” approach of research. They conducted a test where people having laptops with webcam have to turn it around and hug it. When the users use the app, the researchers can understand the behavior of the user through the webcam of the laptop. That is how Facebook delivered captivating app experience.
3. Design Shape
The most important part of the UX design process is designing the Prototype or the Wireframe of the product. In this phase of PDLC, a designer utilizes the insights gained during the user behavior study and shapes all the minute details to deliver a market fit product. A well-designed product reflects good qualities like
- Minimal and clean design
- Less page loading time
- Quick navigation through the functionalities
When a design reflects such qualities, it not only satisfies the expectation of the users, but also excels in providing optimum value that prompts willingness amongst the users to pay a value-worth price of the product.
4. Quality Assurance
UX design is successful only when it passes the expectations of the users. Thus, the real test of a UX design happens during the User Acceptance Test (UAT). Designers keep a keen eye and verify whether the user can easily understand the functions with graphical representation provided without reading a long text description. Also, they verify whether users can quickly navigate through the functionalities without any confusion.
In the current competitive world, it is all about reading between the lines and capitalizing on market gaps. To achieve that, designers have to conduct an extensive research and go beyond the usual to deliver a captivating user experience. Henry Ford was once quoted as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
A decent product can be delivered with a user experience that meets the expectation of the users. But, to enter the realm of legends, one needs to walk an extra mile to deliver a product that exceeds the expectations of the users!