The field of UX design is a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive area not just for design creative professionals, but also developers and marketing specialists. Gone are the days when you had only one road to venture down, now this road has expanded into a multilane highway, with available paths available such as UI Designer, Product Designer, UX Engineer, Customer Experience Design, User Happiness Architect, the list goes on.
Firstly we must ask “What are UX principles?”. Simply put, UX principles are the core point of advice and guidance for one to create useful, easy-to-use designs, by carefully creating, selecting and organizing features and elements into our designs or products. Every element or feature must have a purpose and placement which is familiar and intuitive to the user, as not to distract or confuse them on their journey.
Before we set on a journey down this highway, first we must be aware of certain UX principles which make up the very backbone of UX design, and an essential part of learning for fresh designers wishing to pursue this route.
So what are these principles that one must follow to create a fulfilling product?
1. Usability Comes First
First and foremost a design or product must be usable, no matter how aesthetically pleasing and colorful it is. In fact there is a danger that the aesthetics themselves could negatively impact a design and render it unusable.
With web design, every asset needs to be thought out, CTAs (Call-to-actions) must be visually recognizable, and link to where you’d expect. There shouldn’t be any unexpected behavior, as you will lose users if this is the case. Everything must be designed with purpose as to satisfy the users expectations and aid them in their journey.
One way to find pain points and help a site be more user friendly is to hold Usability Testing sessions throughout the UX design phase. This allows you to make note of any issues users may come across, and if they are repeated issues then you know there will have to be some changes made in the design phase.
2. The Users Need
It’s easy when designing to create something for yourself, and forget that it’s actually the user who is going to be the one using what you design. Therefore, you need to be aware of what users are after in a design.
The meaning of UX (User Experience) is that it is the user’s experience of whatever product they are/will be using, and this is their journey, not yours. So cater to what the user expects and design for their needs throughout the design process.
What you think users do is always different than what they actually do.
3. Factor In Accessibility
Accessibility has become increasingly important in UX design, and it is wise for designers to incorporate it into their designs. It is the designers responsibility to make sure their designs are accessible to as many users as possible, especially ones with disabilities.
Make sure your designs remove any obstacles in navigation or functionality, to give users a problem-free experience. Always factor in the contrast of colors, size of text, and how users with visual impairments may use your design.
4. Use Simple Language
Remember that the user who is using your product is actually a real person, not a robot, so the language and copywriting on a website should reflect this. Gone are the days of using sterile copy and error messages which don’t explain themselves. The user needs as much feedback about errors they encounter and how to become unstuck as possible. Always avoid overly technical terms or flowery language, unless that is the user your are designing for.
Not only is simple language easier to understand, it also helps with the user friendliness of your design.
5. Remain Consistent
When designing, you don’t always need to redesign the wheel. There are many examples of tried and tested designs or elements between designs and products which you can fall back on. Many of these users are familiar with and rely on them to guide them or get them out of problems.
Try not to make the user relearn, as they often don’t have the patience and will abandon your product if they feel it’s not worth the energy. Try to make your designs similar to others already out there, but tweak them with your own personality and style.
6. The User Is In Control
One of the main parts of User Experience is to allow the user control of their experience, almost like a “Choose your Own Adventure” in which the user gets to pick which avenue they want to go to reach the finish. For E-commerce this would be a website and the user must find the item they would like to purchase and navigate their way to the checkout to complete their purchasing experience. Along the way there are many pitfalls and obstacles they must navigate, although many of these pitfalls and obstacles can be avoided with the help of the designer building around them, but there are some which can not be removed. This is where the designer gives hints or makes intuitive design references which allows the user to recover from errors or blocks they may encounter.
By implementing features on webpages such as tooltips, auto-populating fields at checkout, or even something as simple as remembering search results when a user goes back to the results page, by giving the user the idea that they are in control it creates a more enhanced, rewarding user experience.
The field of User Experience Design isn’t as unfamiliar as most imagine, in fact it is a road well travelled as most of the principles have been implemented into everyday products and benefit us all. These are only a few of the many principles in UX Design, but some of the most important. If you apply them to your design, you’ll avoid many of the main pitfalls that other designers encounter with their designs and let the user complete their journey with a positive feeling and return to do it all again.