Have you wondered why you see multiple applications on Play Store/App Store with same functionality yet only a few or a particular one with tons of downloads? I will tell you. In most cases, it is because of good user experience on those few applications. Well, many people do not know it as “user experience”. What you are likely to hear when people do not like an app include:
· “The app is not fine.”
· “Too many big popup ads.”
· “The application is complicated.”
All these boils down to that powerful word — User Experience!
Let’s dig in.
User Experience (UX) is simply the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or web/mobile application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. It refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human–computer interaction and product ownership.
Whereas, User Experience Design (UXD) is the art of enhancing the overall experience of a person using a product by making that product more appealing, accessible, usable and pleasurable.
It encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
For every UXD, the first requirement for an exemplary is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want or providing checklist features. To achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including Commerce, engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.
User Experience Design is a super-set that consists of the following subsets:
Let’s come to think of it, there is always that application that most of us use not because we enjoy the functionalities, which of course is very important too but because we feel at home with the appealing interface and slickness of the application. Probably, they could have a poor design or too many processes to get a single task done and when we have the opportunity to pick amongst products with the same functionality, the one with more appealing design will naturally be our number one choice. As much as functionality is important, design matters a lot! Too often than not, design informs our decision on applications to download on our phones especially when the functionality matches our needs. Generally, we can tell “beautiful” from “not so beautiful” and unwillingly gravitate towards a more beautiful thing.
Let me give you a scenario here, Client A approached you two months ago with a “killer” product idea and you carefully and skillfully translated the process flow of the product into a beautiful and detailed product design. The client fell in love with it and express profound joy in the work done.
Another client (client B), approached you three weeks after with a great functional specification and you chose to live in your past glory, turning out similar designs though reflecting the peculiar intent of the project. With high expectations of renewing the “glory”, you received a shocker! Client B was definitely unpleased: complained about the structure and navigation design, rubbished your choice of colors and graphics and goes as far as doubting your competence for the job after all the effort invested (…I sense a grin. I’m certainly shaking a familiar table right?).
Thus, it is important to note that people perceive Beauty differently; a specific design and approach towards achieving a good user experience will not necessarily be accepted as same by all customers. Hence, User-Centered Design is a key component and skill required in achieving a good user experience.
In an attempt to explain User-Centered Design (UCD), it requires the users to be involved continuously through the design process. Research has shown that an end product has higher usability and delivers better customer satisfaction when there is continuous involvement of users in the design process. Imagine if client B was actively involved every step of the way, it gives the designer better understanding of the client’s preferences and the designs that were turned out would have been tailored perfectly (or maybe near perfect) to suit client B leaving out no detail.
Yes, this process may take a longer time to complete and frankly, the “back and forth” with users is annoying, tiring, kills motivation and seems unending sometimes. However, it gives you room to make corrections almost immediately and eventually arrive at a perfect or near-perfect design at the end rather than putting so much effort to complete a job only to start all over again.
Lastly, it’s important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design, UX is what matter the most to the user. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios. Thus, it is pertinent to understand the difference between UX and UI. While UX is a quality attribute of the UI, covering whether the system is easy to learn, efficient to use, pleasant, and so forth. UI focusses on anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has element that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions. UI brings together concepts from integration design, visual design, and information architecture. Again, it is very important to emphasize here again that the total user experience is a broader concept and should prevail at all time during design.
I will like to conclude with these key notes from experts in the field:
· User Experience (UX) is not a “peripheral” to add to a product; it is integral to the product and can help win the minds of customers.
· You are not designing for yourself; keep the user in mind.
· Bad UX can alter the perception of your product’s value.
· “Good design enables, Bad design disables”. –Paul Hogan
Always remember, beauty is fleeting but a great user experience is not elusive.
Thanks for making out time to read this, don’t forget to share with a friend.
Written by: Favour Barde. Front End Developer at Techspecialist Consulting Limited