They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but just because they say that doesn’t mean it’s true. Consider how often you choose one sort of product over another just because it appeals to you. Then think about how often you’ve stopped using something because, simply put, it doesn’t “feel good” to use.
Websites, apps, and other digital products, just like books, need to be appealing. They must also be intuitive to use if they’re going to succeed.
How to Improve the User Experience
If your product’s user experience isn’t optimized, you’re likely kneecapping yourself. Read on to learn about five ways you can improve your customers’ UX.
1. Focus on User-Centered Design
If something isn’t useful, people won’t be interested in it. For example, your website could have a button that automatically prints money for anyone who clicks it. But if text, graphics, and unintuitive structures obscure that button, people will never find it. Rather than what you as a developer find interesting, user-centered design is all about prioritizing your user’s needs and desires. Consider highly successful apps that people love and use daily. For example, the Uber design system was specifically designed with user experience in mind. Most other beloved apps probably were, too.
User-centered design is an increasingly important part of end to end product design. Whereas the former prioritizes the user’s needs and experience, the latter focuses on the design process as a whole. This accounts for non-user-centric aspects of product design such as market research and technical development. While all parts of end to end design are important, without prioritizing your users, your product is likely to fail.
2. Keep It Simple
Although you may strive to keep your users’ needs in mind, it’s easy to get lost in the potential of ideas. Even Michelangelo could get stuck at the crossroads of possibility when looking at a block of marble. Granted, ideation and experimentation are important parts of the design journey. But there comes a time when you need to rein yourself in.
Say you’re developing an app to help homebuyers find a new house. You want to provide custom filters, but do you really need a feature that lets them sort by roof color? When in doubt, remember the acronym K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
The stupid is not there to insult you, but to remind you to keep your ideas tethered to the ground. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry observed, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
3. Keep Your UX Consistent and Coherent
Though not a commercial success, Apple’s initial release of Lisa revolutionized the way people use computers. Lisa’s graphical user interface also changed what kind of experience people expected from using one. Now an appealing GUI is just an assumed part of that experience. People also expect using digital products to be intuitive, frictionless, and pleasant. And as time’s gone on, they also expect their digital experience to be consistent and coherent.
Coherence means that when your user moves from desktop browser to mobile, they see the same basic structural layout and aesthetic. Consistency means that when they click a button, it does the same thing each time, regardless of where they clicked it. Coherence and consistency are fundamental to establishing the legitimacy of your product and your brand. And they’re something your UX should provide if you want your customers to come back.
4. Accommodate Accessibility
If your user can’t experience your product, then you won’t have any UX to improve. This may seem obvious, but the lack of accessibility features in many products is astounding. Fortunately, technology advances can help rectify this problem.
For example, in 2022, Uber Eats integrated Google Assistant’s voice recognition technology to enable audio-based meal orders. That provided enhanced convenience for the majority of its users. More importantly, it enabled people with vision impairments to use the app in the first place.
Now, you might not have access to powerful technology like Google Assistant. But think about what parts of your digital product could be made more accessible. You could add a mode that enables colorblind people to read your product’s text. Or you could enable a text-to-speech function so the visually impaired can explore information on your product pages. Not only do accessibility features improve your customers’ UX, but they also open your company to previously untapped market segments.
5. Solicit Feedback
Sometimes the best way to figure out what people want is by asking them. You doubtless did market research at the outset of your design process. But it’s important to keep iterating on your design by taking user feedback into consideration. It’s another way to make sure you keep things simple.
Now, some of the feedback you get will be useful, and some of it won’t be. People may have a sense of what they don’t like, but may not be able to articulate what would improve it. The trick is to analyze the feedback you receive to see what trends and patterns you can identify. If the majority of people say your product should be easier to use, you may need to do usability testing to pinpoint the problems. Direct feedback can be an incredibly valuable tool for gaining insight into your product’s weak spots.
User Experience Matters
Think about the difference between getting a coffee at Starbucks versus a sidewalk cafe in Paris. When it comes to the brew, it’s more or less the same. The difference is that, at Les Deux Magots, you’re not just paying for your cafe au lait. You’re paying for the experience.
In the same way, people will pay you more for your digital product if it offers a good user experience. Good user experience will have customers coming back time and again. It’s an aspect of design that’s too often underdeveloped. So by prioritizing your UX, you’ll already be putting yourself ahead of the competition.