If you’re wondering what it takes to create a great user experience, read on.
This’ll be a 4 part series exploring just a few of the elements I consider key to designing a great user experience. While I’ll be focused mostly on software, these concepts are industry agnostic, so whether you’re a photographer, service provider or a manufacturer, there’ll be something to take away.
- Emotion. How does your product or service make your users feel? Understanding your user’s emotions is the foundation to creating a great experience.
- Interaction. How easy can your users achieve their goals? Intuitive and easy to use interfaces are what let users get to where they need to go. Reducing friction at all times should frame your design decisions.
- Sensory. How well does your product infuse the user’s senses? From colours, shapes, tone, movement, sound, smell and touch. All these contribute to a user’s sensory experience which help boost loyalty and product advocacy.
- Function. Does your app reliably perform its key task? Does your product feel of a high quality? Is it great value for money? Does it feel premium? Is it fast at performing a task? Regardless of how fancy an app may look, an app must serve it’s purpose well.
Emotion is any conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a certain degree of pleasure or displeasure.Wikipedia
If you think back to the last time you interacted with a product or service you most likely came away either feeling happy or thinking things could have went better. Human emotions are a vast complex system, made up of millions of pathways each carrying our nuanced thoughts, which when reflected on generally lead to a feeling we can categorise as either good or bad.
While a hard metric to directly quantify and measure, how a customer feels when using your app is core to achieving a great user experience.
Achieving a great product experience starts with measuring how well your design achieves the core use cases. Remove yourself from this equation unless you’ll be an activate user of the service (which you should be) and become the end user when assessing each use case. It’s easy to design an app that you love, but will your users love it?
A quick and effective way to get started exploring this would be to look at the effort required to achieve your app’s use cases. Start by creating a simple 2 column layout, on the left list the app’s use cases and on the right list the steps you anticipate your users will take. With these mapped out, starting thinking about:
- Can you reduce the steps? As we live in an age of always-on and instant feedback, the less steps the better.
- Is the journey to achieving a goal enjoyable? Thinking about the common adage that the journey matters more than the destination, think about the last trip you took or task you completed, if the journey wasn’t enjoyable, I bet you won’t be looking forward to doing it again.
- Is the UI intuitive and easy to navigate? Too much choice could be overwhelming for some users, thus leading to an experience they’d prefer not to repeat or even attempt.
- Having achieved the goal, will the user be happy? You don’t need to shower the user’s screen in confetti and play annoying sound effects but, given the nature of the task at hand, will the users feel satisfied with the outcome? Depending on the device and app, subtle use of visual notifications and feedback can drastically enhance the experience of achievement.
First to mind wins
These should be enough to get you started on a path to effectively understanding how a user will feel when using your app. It’s important to start asking the questions early on, as they will afford you many opportunities to “right the ship” during development and ensure you create an experience your users won’t forget.