4 simple steps to designing a strong user experience

Roxanne Pinto August 2018 Apps, Mobile

UX, or user experience, is every interaction your business has with people on your website, mobile site, apps, and online properties or services. That might sound like an exhausting number of situations to consider, but creating good UX design means focusing on the user, no matter where they are.

The goal of good UX is to help users do what they want to do when interacting with your business.

It may be tempting to only think about details that help communicate what you want people to know (like product information) and what you want them to do (like clicking the “buy now” button). But the goal of good UX is to help users do what they want to do when interacting with your business.

That’s why you should consider how your online and app experiences are making people feel. Are you confusing them? Are you coming off as cold and uncaring? Are you rushing them?

By keeping your audience’s feelings in mind, you can create strong UX that arranges all of your information and interactions in a way that’s pleasing to people. And, when the UX of your site or app makes people feel good, they’re more likely to stick around and become customers.

To create a crowd-pleasing UX, grab some sticky notes and follow these four steps:

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Step 1: Take action

Think like potential customers. What actions would they want to take on your site or in your app? For example, they might want to find information, watch videos, make comments, research products or services, and maybe make a purchase.

Write all of these actions down on separate sticky notes. Then arrange those actions into a user flow, or the order that potential customers would do them. You may need to make duplicate sticky notes since some actions can happen multiple times on your site or in your app.

Make sure each action can be completed in five steps or less. For example, to “make a purchase,” people would need to:

  1. Land on the homepage
  2. Click product category
  3. Click product page
  4. Check out

Note that a step doesn’t necessarily mean an individual click. For example, in this scenario, step 3 requires multiple clicks, like selecting a product’s color and adding it to a basket.

Step 2: Get emotional

Next, use different colored sticky notes to map out what feelings or emotions you want people to have when they complete an action. For example, when people land on your homepage, you might want them to feel welcomed, excited, and curious. Or when they make a purchase, you might want them to feel satisfied and happy.

Your UX can evoke these different feelings through a combination of shapes, colors, navigation, content, or sounds. The right mixture of elements depends on your brand’s identity, voice, and style, as well as who your target audience is.

Let’s say you own a spa with a luxurious brand identity, and you want people to feel calm and peaceful when they visit your homepage. You’d probably use tranquil sounds (or no sounds at all) and a sophisticated design instead of loud music and neon colors.

Step 3: Start sketching

You’re now ready to sketch out how each page or frame of your site or app should look. You can do this using a whiteboard or a notepad. This will help you get a better sense of which actions need to happen on which pages, and which elements will help people complete those actions.

For example, if a spa wants people to easily choose their preferred treatment category from the homepage, the sketch of that page needs to include buttons to all four categories: massages, manicures, body treatments, and facials.

You can use the UX flow you created on your sticky notes and sketches as an outline for building your site or app — whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re hiring a designer and developer.

Step 4: Test early

How do you know if you’ve created a good UX? By testing early and often, and making any changes as necessary.

If you have the budget, you can run prelaunch user experience research. This type of research gives you usability feedback from people who are representative of your target audience. Also, A/B testing (testing two different UX versions simultaneously) for your site or app can help you determine which UX best helps you and your customers reach your goals.

If you don’t have extra budget, you can still do an informal version of A/B testing during the sticky note phase. Come up with different options for actions and flows, and test them with friends and co-workers. Ask them which actions and flows work the best. Have them show you how they’d complete each action. Make sure you ask open-ended questions so they elicit more than yes or no answers, and focus on clarity and efficiency.

Designing strong UX doesn’t need to be complicated, and you don’t need to be tech savvy to map out customer-friendly experiences. All you need are some sticky notes to write down potential customers’ actions and emotions, a whiteboard or notepad to sketch out how your site or app should look, and a willingness to test early and often.

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