User experience (that’s UX for short) can seem pretty abstract. It encompasses many different areas, making it difficult to pin down. Here’s the formal definition: “a person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use and or anticipated use of a product, system or service.” In other words, UX represents how users involve themselves with a product.
Sounds simple enough, right? Then why do designers often struggle to create the perfect user experience? This can all be boiled down to one thing: the purpose or intention of the design. Every product has a specific purpose, and the job of design is to express that purpose clearly using the product’s functionality and interface. However, somewhere along the line, the designer and end-user wires typically get crossed.
What is user experience?
As Forbes puts it, “No company can become a leader if it doesn’t prioritize creating a UX that meets customer needs and expectations”.
The heart and soul of UX lies in a designer’s ability to empathize with their end-user’s wants and needs and translate those needs into an error-free, efficient and engaging product. Without this, an immaculate design serves no purpose (other than wasting the time and efforts of both the designer and the user).
That’s why user-centered design is so important.
Users always interpret designs based on their usability. Without good usability, they won’t reach their intended requirements of the product. For a design to be great, the product must be easy to understand for every user regardless of their age, location and background. Better usability starts when designers know their target audience and how they work.
Here’s a few great examples of UX design that make it crystal clear to the user that they’re at the forefront of the designer’s mind.
As their name suggests, meditation app Calm manages to keep their users happier, healthier, and calmer—all through minimalist design. They follow the less is more approach with a clean and clear UX design that helps their users easily glide through the website, while picking up the key information they’re looking for.
Users can pick an environment—the sea, the rainforest, a thunderstorm—and listen to gentle nature sounds as they navigate through the site and app. Through both audio and visuals, users get their expectations met through excellent UX design.
Packaging company Lumi offers customers a unique, cost-effective unboxing experience with a wide array of boxes, packets, containers and more. Their UX is simple, yet effective, with a lot of white space and products grouped together by color. Users can navigate through the site and get compelling images in the right place at the right time.
In Lumi’s product catalog, each product is laid out similarly, so users can swiftly find what they are looking for. With clear navigation and an uncluttered interface that doesn’t leave the user overwhelmed, this UX design meets users’ needs in a hassle-free way.
So how can you take a user-centered approach to your next design? Like Calm and Lumi, aim to meet all of your users’ expectations.
Conduct research to overcome misinterpretation
Designing involves many small decisions, which is why it’s very easy for designer intent and user interpretation to become misaligned. But most companies undermine the value of user intent. They haven’t grasped that, in reality, understanding what a user wants to do will increase the chance of communicating the right message.
To realign your UX design, start by researching your users’ intention. First, gather data about the needs of your users with these methods:
- Conduct interviews to obtain direct, detailed answers to specific questions.
- Collect surveys to get a large amount of information with minimal effort. Create surveys easily with tools like SurveyMonkey or SurveyAnyPlace
- Observe prospective users behavior to take notes of patterns and thoughts.
Then, synthesize your research data and use it to create different designs that you can test. Consider simple A/B tests (presenting two different options) for your users, and then observe their behavior to understand what’s working and what’s not. This will help you develop an even more usable design.
Also, be sure to carry out detailed keyword research. Use tools like ahrefs, Keyword Tool, Google AdWords (ad keywords on Google) and Soovle (suggestions for autocomplete searches) to find high-volume keywords based on your industry, user monthly searches and trends. Since your users are purposely searching for these words, make sure your copy and content match up with their intent.
If you research the “what,” “why” and “how” of your product, industry and users and then implement those results into your UX design, you’ll leave much less room for misinterpretation. Take a look at this example from Inkod that does it right.
Digital design agency Inkod identified their clients need for cutting-edge digital products and pulled that into their UX design. They not only state what they do best (“designing inventive ideas into innovative products”), but also give clear examples of their work. Every sample provides users with information about the project’s challenge, concept, design, components and end result.
Use UX design to be different
With so much competition in the field, why should users look to your solution? Let’s say your competitors are offering customers practically the same solution as you and solving the same problem. If you can truly understand your user, your UX design will evoke just the right emotions that will encourage them to buy into your brand.
Look at the TwoNerds website below, for example. They describe themselves as a startup producing “high quality, award-winning mobile games that are fun, engaging and addictive.” Next to it is PocketGems, who claim they “develop genre-defining games and entertainment.”
Both companies provide similar services in the same industry. But, if you take a look at their websites, their choice of visuals does a great job of differentiating themselves. PocketGems opted for darker hues, while TwoNerds chose to focus on highly-saturated, cartoony visuals. They carry these brand styles throughout their site through an organized rhythm of the same colors, styles and patterns.
Both companies use UX design to create variety and hold the user’s attention in a unique way, which shows off their brand’s personality. With this, they successfully relay how they intend to satisfy users so they aren’t left disappointed.
It all starts with your users
Your customer’s mindset is vital to your success. Research what your users want or need so you can apply that to your UX design decisions and development process. This is a surefire way to avoid any confusion in how your product is interpreted. And it guarantees you’ll present customers with the perfect user experience.
About the author
Shachar Shamir is Ranky’s Co-Founder. He dreams about Growth, wakes up to the Tweets of birds and he’s literally a Social person. He is also a soccer fan and gadgets addict. Ranky, one of the world’s first agencies to focus exclusively on tech and startups, has served over 200 killer companies since inception – leaving veteran agencies surprised and amazed.