Top 10 User Experience (UX) Design Best Practices for 2020
What is User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience (UX) is defined as the interaction that a user has with a product or service and the resultant emotions or perceptions that they generate during this process.
UX design is concerned with the different elements that shape and influence this experience, the feelings of users while using the product or service and whether they can accomplish the task that they intended. This can be in both the online and the physical domain, where user experience design plays an important role in ensuring the feelings that users have for a particular product are pleasant, easy and relevant. Various disciplines like market research, product design and development, and strategy among others are combined to create an excellent user experience and user experience design is used to create a strong connection between the companies and the users so that their needs and expectations can be fulfilled seamlessly.
User experience design helps in adding value to the products and services being offered and its applications span across various disciplines related to design and are not just limited to information architecture, user research and visual design. User experience design plays a paramount role in determining the evolution of a product through a rigorous process of design and development based on guidelines that are formulated by user research and validation of test concepts. A good user experience design ensures that people using a particular product or service have a great experience that results in a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
User Interface (UI) Vs User Experience (UX)
There is a thin line that differentiates UI from the UX and it is impossible to work on a particular design concept without considering both UI and UX aspects. While user experience covers the entire set of digital interactions between brands and users, the user interface is specific to the program or application. For instance, a website of a company has a larger user experience (UX) theme that is consistent with its aim to maximize session time, engagement and organizational conversion goals. Now, assume that the website hosts a number of online services/ action items - each such service/ action item will need its user interface (UI) so that the user can engage and utilize the program. The UI needs to be consistent with the larger UX theme.
10 Best Practices for User Experience (UX) Design in 2020
The user experience design process is creative and requires constant updating and fresh ideas to reflect the advances made in this dynamic field. However, there are some basic underlying principles that every user experience designer should be familiar with and these techniques form the core of the UX design process. Such user experience design techniques are instrumental in creating excellent products loved by the consumers and these guidelines should be implemented in every UX design process.
1. User first
The primary aim of any user experience design process is to focus on the users during the entire product design and development process. It is clear from the term user experience design itself that it is centered around the users and is aimed to improve their experience. Hence, UX designers need to focus on what the users are looking for in a product and this can be done by conducting user research and testing. You should be careful about the fact that you are designing not for yourself, and user considerations and expectations should be the foremost priority of any UX design process.
It is important to consider that users of your product may or may not be having expectations and preferences just like yours. Hence, designers should refrain from projecting their assumptions and thinking on the users and recognize that users may have divergent needs and expectations from a product than what is assumed by them. Most likely, users will have different backgrounds, goals, mentalities, and mindsets. To gain insights regarding such aspects, designers employ usability testing procedures that give them accurate feedback regarding the users.
2. Design context before content
It is important for UX designers to fully understand the design requirements in the context of their users. For example, one of the most commonly understood factor in this regard is the location of the users. Is the product being designed for someone who is stationary or someone who is in motion? The other factors to consider are the time available with the users, their emotional state, the kind of hardware they may use for accessing your product or service, their cultural influences, and many more. Such kind of contextual design factors are used to get information regarding user behavior and this kind of information is vital for the user experience design process.
For example, if the time available with the users is limited, their attention span for performing a task without getting distracted is less. This attention span may be in the range of few seconds and UX designers need to adjust such contextual factors in their design process. Such kind of limitations result in simple interfaces without any unnecessary elements and practicing functional minimalism. However, in other situations, limiting the user experience to a certain level for achieving efficiency may not be the primary consideration, but being relevant and offering value are the important design parameters every UX designer takes into consideration.
3. Conduct user scenario mapping
User scenario mapping is a story that conveys the intentions of the users for achieving a particular goal and the main steps they take to accomplish such goals. User scenario mapping also helps the UX designers in understanding the pain points of users and their motivations, thereby giving them opportunities for improvement. For user scenario mapping, designers gather information from key stakeholders about the main goals that the product is intended to achieve and subsequently various contextual details are added. By conducting this exercise, UX designers gather the relevant feedback that helps in delivering great user experience. User scenario mapping also helps in discovering the features that need to be added for making the product as per the expectations of the users.
4. Make wireframes and prototypes
Building a product prototype is an important user experience design technique and it helps to deliver a model that can be used for user testing. By creating a prototype or a wireframe, UX designers can test their hypotheses and validate them before commencing actual production. Various techniques are used for prototyping and some of them are wireframing and paper prototyping. A wireframe is a rough sketch of your product that represents the placement of various components and their interrelation. A wireframe thus is like a blueprint of the product and serves as the basis of the design strategy that can be further refined and improved.
Paper prototyping is a comprehensive representation of the perceived final product and helps in visualizing how the product will look and function. It is an advanced version of the wireframe and includes all the static images of the product that can be changed manually for representing a particular action.
5. Conduct rigorous user testing
To ensure that they are on the right track during the product design process, UX designers gather feedback from others regarding the way their design is shaping up and communicating and collaborating with various stakeholders like clients and developers to weed out any problems. This is achieved by conducting user testing which helps UX designers to identify different kinds of issues that lead to several revisions, ultimately refining the product design. While it is difficult to test various design elements during the initial stages of product design, usability testing at the early stages helps to detect flaws present in the flow and logic and make important changes. Such an approach helps in saving time and money and also in delivering excellent user experience.
To conduct effective user testing, UX designers represent their designs in a form that is most conducive to testing and allows the participants to perform the tasks they want to test. Finding appropriate participants for testing is also an important part of the testing process and this is followed by making a test plan that helps UX designers to communicate with the participants and the stakeholders efficiently.
6. Conduct A/B testing
A/B testing is a prominent technique used in user experience design process and offers different versions of a product to various users and the results from the user trials are compared to find out which product version performs better. Changes are made in the various design elements offered in the product and the success of each version is measured to measure which type of design gets the approval of the users. A/B testing scope can be expanded to multivariate testing where more than two versions of a product are compared and the number of variations offered is also more. With the help of multivariate testing, multiple design elements and their interactions can be tested at once.
A/B testing helps UX designers to make incremental changes in the product they are designing which leads to improvements in the overall design and functionality. Besides, such an approach is used especially by large-scale e-commerce websites and by implementing big data techniques, they collect and analyze a large amount of data generated by multivariate testing.
7. Deliver security and trustworthiness
UX designers, especially designing for online applications should ensure the security and privacy of user data. By ensuring that the products designed are secure and trustworthy, users feel an enhanced level of comfort while using such products and this translates into great user experience and customer loyalty. This can be achieved by incorporating the elements of transparency and credibility in the design process itself and thereby creating products that place security and privacy concerns of the users as paramount. Vast amounts of personal and financial information of end-users are stored online by various entities and by ensuring the security of such sensitive information, users feel confident and comfortable that their information will not be misused.
8. Be sensitive to design constraints
The perception of users regarding what is useful and desirable for them can change and depends on various factors like cultural influences, economic realities, and exposure to technology. UX designers should consider these factors and keep on updating the user personas based on these inputs. This will help the user experience designers to adapt to constantly changing competitive landscape, technology adoption cycles, cultural shifts, and economic cycles. UX designers should take into account various design constraints like limited time available for design and development and limits on financial resources. Also, design restraints may arise due to the kind of technology that is being used for product development and can limit the features incorporated or product performance.
9. UX personalization
Personalization helps to provide a unique and relevant experience to the users. Hence, UX designers should opt for personalizing the UX by using comprehensive data generated from the users to display content and material that the users can relate with. The ultimate goal of the user experience design process is to align the UX with the needs and preferences of the users, and personalization makes any product attuned to such expectations. Incorporating design elements and features that are based on user behavior makes the product attractive and easy to use for people, making them comfortable with the design interface.
10. Implementation and product launch
After the prototype has been made and various types of testing carried out, UX designers finally make the actual product and launch it in the market. However, the role of UX designers doesn’t end here and they continuously monitor the product performance and observe the industry trends and set new benchmarks for measuring performance.