in ,

The Best UX Design Tips

The ultimate goal of UX design is to help users flow from one action to the next without interruption. Therefore, by providing all the most important UX design tips in this article, this will hopefully be able to help any UX designer with less experience create a product for the modern web. Afterall, once you know truly your users, this will allow you to make helpful, intuitive, and pleasant designs.

Whether you’re designing an app, a website or standalone software, the user should know how to use the product without any assistance. Everything should be designed in a way that makes it easiest for all users to navigate through the platform. If every web designer focuses on creating the best UX design, the web will become free of frustration, at least as far as interfaces go, and this can lead to an increase in engagement and overall time spent on the platform.

What is UX Design

UX Design

Image source: Digital Edge

UX design is the kind of design that focuses on user experience, where the “X” here obviously stands for the word “experience”. However, the problem here is that with so many diverse users out there, is UX design meant to appease all of them? The answer to that is no. UX design, by definition, only focuses on the target users of that specific platform.

For example, a photography app would obviously be aimed at photographers and those who aspire to become one. Designers making this app could then look at the most popular digital camera interfaces and figure out why they work the way they do. By adopting their UX ideas, designers would therefore be developing an app that’s helpful to professionals, intuitive to beginners, and pleasant to both.

The Role of UX Design

One crucial point to take note of when talking about UX design is that every user has a limited amount of attention. Therefore, any obstacles, interruptions, or distractions experienced while using that product can shorten their attention span and drain users’ productivity. This can lead to frustration and resentment as the user gradually has to fight the product itself before ultimately abandoning it.

UX design is meant to eliminate all obstacles, interruptions, and distractions that users could possibly experiences from all facets of the product. By doing this, they will be able to maintain users’ engagement with it. In order to achieve this, designers must conduct thorough research and define the user demographic. Later on, they must prototype their findings and analysis into a usable product.

The UX design process is generally iterative. It relies on fast turnaround and cooperation between different teams to help cut down the cost and time needed to create and market a functioning prototype.

UX Principles

Hierarchy

Product designs are composed of elements that stand in a certain hierarchy to one another depending on their value to the user. However, depending on their needs, different user demographics will assign different value to each of the elements. As an example, let’s examine how text would fare against images in a text-based design.

In a text-based design with a single image, a user seeking to obtain information would assign high value to the text, whereas a user searching for inspiration would assign a higher value to the image. By defining the needs of users, which in this case is information versus inspiration, designers of that interface can rearrange the elements to serve those particular users. This can even include changing the font to accentuate the contrast in certain areas to attract user attention.

Bolded, underlined, and larger letters attract more attention compared to regular font. Therefore, a summary of information found on a page can either be placed bolded, underlined or in a larger font on top of the page. Users searching for a quick summary of information can take a quick glance, absorb the summary and move on without wasting any time. By making the summary appear striking compared to the other elements on the webpage, user’s attention will be drawn to it, and this can also be applied to the use of colors.

When it comes to images, bright and bold colors such as red tend to attract more attention than colors such as brown or yellow. Sharp contrasts also attract attention, however a muted contrast is widely known to diffuse it. Hence, a color combination such as black and white is perfectly visible, but yellow on white is nearly invisible and this would cause much more uncertainty than the latter.

Consistency

Habits are a powerful way to retain user attention, and consistency is a highly effective way to build those habits. Once users grasp a thorough understanding of how the product performs, they will start building habits on how to use it, which will make their experience of the product helpful, intuitive, and pleasant.

However, problems can arise once designers attempt to completely revamp the design since they will essentially be undoing all the work done up to that point. Design revamps force users to re-adjust to the new design paradigm and go against their habits, wasting their attention and causing frustration, which can lead to disengagement and abandonment.

The key factor to maintaining consistency is thinking long-term. Rather than making sudden changes, new design ideas should be introduced over the course of years and not weeks. Furthermore, consistency also means that the design shouldn’t deviate from commonly accepted design standards. For example, users wanting to access the ‘Help’ function on a Windows desktop program would expect the F1 key to open it up. If that doesn’t happen, this can cause frustration in users.

Confirmation

Another major drain on user attention is uncertainty. When users sense uncertainty, they reluctantly engage, scrutinize every detail and waste their time, which interrupts the habit-building process. Hence, the UX principle of confirmation is meant to eliminate this uncertainty with timed text and visuals.

When the user performs an action, the design should confirm it with timed text and visuals. However, whenever the user wants to make a critical change to how the product works, the design should ask for confirmation. The more impactful the action in either case, the more confirmation there should be, as seen when typing and changing privacy settings in Google Docs for example.

Typing on a Google Doc will display a minor confirmation that says “Saving…” on top of the screen. Once the user is done typing, it will display the phrase “All changes saved in Drive” above the document instead. Users don’t have to save their work manually, which could have otherwise interrupted the workflow.

On the other hand, changing privacy settings so that users with the Google Doc link can edit the document will require clicking through several menus before clicking “Done” to confirm the choices. The white-on-blue icon indicating privacy in the top right corner changes from a padlock to a user icon on top of a hyperlink icon. This way, the system receives an ample confirmation that this was an intentional choice. Similarly, the user also receives confirmation to whom the document is or will be visible to.

By providing minor confirmation when automatically saving, Google Docs preserves user attention. In addition, by asking for ample confirmation when changing privacy settings, Google protects itself from complaints, support requests and lawsuits that would arise from users accidentally changing who can access their documents and share them with others. Google Sheets uses those two exact same design ideas, with the exception of the button being green instead of blue. Although this aspect may be different, the function remains consistent enough to avoid confusion.

User Control

Confirmation help users avoid any errors, while user control on the other hand helps them recover from it. Once the user encounters an error for whatever reason, the user will expect to be able to take control over it in some manner, solve the error and resume using the product normally. The issue of how much control the user should be given can best be described as “regular users versus power users”.

Regular users will expect the two most common ways to fix errors – ‘Undo’ and ‘Back’ functions. This would reverse the last action made, and users would be returned to the previous page. ‘Undo’ and ‘Back’ are the ultimate staples of modern technology design and should be included in some form in every interface. After all, regular users aren’t interested in what caused the error, they simply just want to resume work.

In contrast, power users are rather interested in what caused the error and want to fix the underlying problem before resuming back to work. For them, advanced menus and options are a must-have. For example, typing “about:config” in the Firefox address bar provides power users with access to a wealth of options. Prior to accessing it, they have to confirm their choice.

Accessibility

The number of users with disabilities are higher than the average designer might expect. For example, around 8% of men have color blindness, which most commonly means that they can’t distinguish between red and green, especially when the two colors are placed together. Now, if you think about it, what are the colors most commonly used for “wrong” and “correct”? That’s right, red and green.

Making a design that’s helpful, intuitive, and pleasant to color-blind users makes them appreciate the product that much more. To see your design through the eyes of a color-blind person, you can use online tools such as COBLIS to help you out. .

UX Web Design Process

Designing for the web largely follows the same UX design process as for any other technology. However, the one difference there is also acts as the main advantage of the web design process – the wealth of options. Each of the 10 steps listed below, will provide you with a wealth of options on how to design, revise, and implement it.

1. Research – In this step, the main problems should be discovered. Here you can find the 10 diagrams for providing effective user research.

2. Categorization of problems that were found on the website

3. Creating personas and journey maps – Be sure not to mix them with user flows.

4. Ideation exercises – Use them to generate solutions for great UX design and solve all the initial problems found

5. Building the actual prototype

6. Prototype testing

7. Further development of the final prototype

8. Launching the product

9. Gathering user feedback

10. Returning back to the first step, keeping the received user feedback in mind

How to Make a Successful UX Design

How to Make a Successful UX Design

Image source: Net Solutions

Once you break down the complex task into several smaller steps, the ultimate goal of creating a successful UX design becomes easily achievable.

Mind that it is likely that you will make mistakes along the way. Therefore, it is important that you don’t become obsessed with perfection. Know that mistakes are natural, and especially so when it comes to UX design. However, the best part of it is that everything can constantly be improved. All you have to do once an error is found, is to simply go back to the first step and correct it.

1) Know your audience

By creating user personas and analyzing user behavior, you will simply discover what the users want and need. Why would they use your product compared to those of your competitors? As you find the answers to that question, the motivations of your users will become clearer.

So, try to gather as much data as you can instead of relying on subjective opinions to discover the motivations of your users. Cross-check everything and you should arrive at a more accurate prediction of your users’ needs. Having the knowledge of what the upcoming trend is going to allow you to design a product and have it out on the market before any of your competitors.

2) Be a good user of your product

You should understand the nuances of how your product works and why it works that way to avoid design revamps, which can completely alienate the user base. Design revamps happen when a fresh batch of designers join the team and radically start changing what they’ve never used well and frequently enough, completely ignoring the functional aspect of the platform and focusing on form.

Yet, function and form are two factors that should go hand in hand, especially if your users are professionals with high standards. With that being said, use your own product, learn how to use it well and slowly improve from there.

3) Use of typography

Text is the most efficient manner of sharing information online and typography is a way to share nuanced information. The main problem with written text is that it lacks nuance unless you use typography.

You can add nuance to your text by bolding keywords, underlining numbers and italicizing names. By doing this, a user who scans through the text to find relevant information can do so quickly and effortlessly. Develop your own style and gradually improve on it, giving your users a good understanding your platform’s secret language.

4) Avoid excessive scrolling

Scrolling is an action that can be made on a website, and just like any other action such as clicking, scrolling will require user attention. Hence, if you stretch out your interface to a ludicrous degree, your users will experience attention fatigue as they attempt to scroll all the way to the bottom. While stretching out the interface does inflate your user metrics and make the engagement seem higher, it ultimately wears out users.

On the other hand, smashing all the content onto a single page can overwhelm the user and again cause attention fatigue. Try to add shortcuts so your users can easily jump up and down the page without excessive scrolling or clicking for that matter.

5) Content copy matters

Do you know what the words “lorem ipsum” mean? Commonly used as a filler or placeholder for text, “lorem ipsum” is the bane of many websites that forgot to add content copy. Content copy matters but if you don’t know what to replace “lorem ipsum” with, you can always just string a few relevant keywords together.

6) Responsive design

When designing digital products, you need to account for slow hardware and outdated software. Simply put, users will likely have a bad experience with your product and blame it for such experiences. So, be sure to optimize your design to create a responsive product.

7) UI testing and improvement

Just because your UI works doesn’t mean it can’t get any better. You should always continue to gather feedback from your users so that you can keep polishing the UI (a.k.a user interface) part of the design. As soon as you release one version, it will be time to start improving on it by steadily iterating on the UX design process.

8) Seek inspiration

There’s no shame in seeking inspiration for UX design or any design at all. Afterall, the simplest objects and processes can give us key insight into how to improve our products. Watch, listen, learn from objects and experienced designers around you. If it works, get inspired by it.

9) Effective management of team dynamics

Teamwork is key for a proper UX design process, but it can’t happen without feedback. Respect all types of feedback, both positive and negative. However, it would be better for you to demand it to be constructive and detailed so that you know exactly what you can improve on. This is not the time to care about your ego, as everyone should be free to discuss with each other how they can best design the product.

10) Keep it simple

If you can make something simpler, go for it. In fact, the simplest solution is most often the very best ones. Therefore, don’t overcomplicate just for the sake of it. Only do that when there’s a dire need for that sort of function and no simpler alternative available.

What do you think?

153 points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Christiaan

Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world's largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.

What is User Experience Design?

Why an Asset Library is Crucial to Today’s Marketeers