Digital designers are tasked with balancing great design with client needs. This can pull them in too many directions, muddying the design process. The real trick to good UX design is to enhance user satisfaction and accessibility, connecting the user to the product.
If you’re a newbie to UX design, you’ll ride the learning curve and make some blunders. Here’s a heads up on some of the common pitfalls you’ll encounter on the way.
The Genius Designer Trap
You’ve learned the ropes and find yourself working in the creative digital design field. Congratulations! While it’s great to have strong stylistic ideas on design, realize the working designer checks their ego at the door. Keep your eye on the prize: Creating a memorable experience for the user. There’s no sense wowing the audience with spectacular design if it does not enhance user experience. It’s fine to dazzle, but stay content focused.
At each stage of the design process, see your work through the user’s eyes. The site will be used by a variety of user types, map out user journeys for the different groups. Collect data on types of buyers. What needs do they seek to fulfill at the site?
The next step is to arrange the UI in compliance with research on user journeys and types of buyers, fostering a superior UX. Keep an eye out for smooth flow of UX, and for log jams that can gum up the works. Test the results on a variety of devices. Include field research with users if time and budget permits, and include variations in design elements in testing such as color, button and image choices.
Don’t Mistake UX for UI
It’s a common mistake to confuse UX with UI. While the two are closely related, UI is all about how users interact with the site interface. Yes, it’s part and parcel of the UX. Simply put, UI is concerned with what the buttons look like, where they are placed among other design elements, and where they take the user. UX is about emotion, how the user feels as they navigate the interface. The point of good UI design is to create an interface that leads to a satisfying user experience.
As with UX design, good interface design starts with information about users. What are their desires, their dislikes? What need does the site fulfill for them? Just as user research drives UX planning, it’s key to the UI design process.
Start both the UX or UI design process with content, then incorporate user research into the design. Create a prototype site map that clicks through to your site pages. The interactive site map allows you to test the flow of the site and get a feel for the experience.
Leading from your content before wireframing keeps content in it’s rightful priority spot. Your work can naturally flow from Content shapes the interface, allowing you to direct the experience and shape the flow of content. It’s a natural to segue to visual design from there.
Too Much Information & Boredom
Attention spans are short in the digital age. Put too many forms in a site, and users go elsewhere. A major goal of UX design is to create a smooth experience, so think twice about asking users to fill out an overly long series of fields. Bottom line, feedback from users confirms that a shorter form garners more signups than a longer one.
Carefully consider what information is necessary from users.. Does your client really need their phone number, for example? Again, research is critical. Study users to define what data from them is essential. Run tests with user groups to collect data. Certainly, as designers wanting a smoother UX, we’ll opt for less information collection. However, this impulse must be balanced with the needs of the client, and possibly their sales team or other interested parties.
So we’ve outlined a few key pitfalls of the UX design experience, let’s move on to a bit of good old general common sense design advice.
Keep UX design direct and straightforward. Start with content and help users engage with it.
Make sure your navigation works in the mobile environment! This is how most of your users will experience the site. Keep clickable areas separate so they don’t overlap. Create each page as a distinct, clear entity unto itself, for ease of comprehension.
Bone up on the psychology of design. Know what works when it comes to color, personality in design and compelling imagery. Keep in mind that good design fulfills an emotional desire in the user, and solves a business problem for the client.