The most common mistake that I’ve seen fellow designers make is that they design for the clients and not for the end user! All of your design decisions should result from users’ needs. As a UX Designer it’s your responsibility to highlight users’ needs to your client. And believe me your clients will be thankful to you for that! (UX vs UI Design Under Scrutiny)
Okay, so now you know you’ve got to use the ‘User First‘ approach, but how do you know who your users are going to be and how they’ll behave? That’s why we create focus-groups.
‘University students in their twenties’ and ‘Middle-aged office employees’ will differ in their behaviour and requirements for online shopping. Creating such groups help you craft better User Experience which is based on their specific needs and their familiarity with the new technology.
So you’ve gone through the brief of project, have created the wireframes and now you can almost visualize how the app or website is going to look like. But think again. Is there any other way in which the same results can be achieved? Are there alternatives to your design? Of course there are!
That’s why we need to ideate. Approach the same problem from various angles and come up with totally different design solutions. The difference between good and bad designers is that good designers know of all possible alternatives to their designs and then they develop the best idea. Amateur designers start with whatever comes to their mind first, and they vouch by it!
Desire lines, in short, are the trails of shortcut that users take that designer never intended. Have you ever noticed a beaten walking-trail in the middle of a beautiful lawn despite having a paved path AROUND the lawn? Well, that’s because the designer did not take into consideration the fact that users want to reach from point A to B with the shortest amount of effort. If your users are searching for or leaving behind desire-lines then you may need to reevaluate your design.
Psychologist Don Norman expanded the use of ‘Affordances’ to Interaction Design. In his words “ ..in design, we care much more about what the user perceives than what is actually true. What the designer cares about is whether the user perceives that some action is possible (or in the case of perceived non-affordances, not possible) ”. Simply put, it means that your action buttons should LOOK like an action button, and non-clickable titles etc. should look non-clickable!
Very often I’ve seen confused users clicking randomly at every darn thing on the page that looks like it may lead to some action. A Ghost Button without a hover state on a cluttered background, may not be perceived as an action button by many and will get far less hits than a button with subtle shadow, and positioned in a key area.
Anti-patterns are design patterns meant to help but which end up confusing the users. A classic example of this is the ‘Click Here’ links scattered around the web page. Instead of saying ‘Click Here‘ for everything, it is best to specify what action clicking will lead to, for e.g., Register, View More Products, Get a Quote, etc.
After your first prototype is ready its time to do some user testing. Let people use your app or website. Don’t guide them what to do. Just watch and take mental notes of where they get stuck, or if they ask too many questions about what will happen if they click here or tap there. Are they repeatedly coming back to the home screen?
Perhaps they are getting lost because of poor navigation! While testing on users it is best not to tell them that you are testing the design with them. Otherwise their behavior will change and they will try to tell how certain things SHOULD work. You are testing to know their problems and not their solutions!
Are you providing enough motivation for the user to pull out their phone and sift through millions of other apps and open yours? Many apps get abandoned after their first use not because they were bad or had usability issues, but simply because there are numerous other apps competing for users attention.
Always remember, not being bad is not equal to being good enough when it comes to designing great UX!