How to create a great experience is all the time a big deal for designers. There are many buzzwords, tools, and methodologies, but we all know there is not an easy, single answer for the question. Designers should keep themselves open and unbiased in learning from users, but having right mindset and sound judgement is critical to be successful. In this sense, the 7 principals I propose here are basic but useful for designers who need to make hard decisions every day.
1. Focus On Goals
Users visit a site or use a product to accomplish their goals. They try your service to figure out if it solves their problems, saving time or making things done, and constantly compare the benefits with other options simply by degree of easiness and usefulness. Therefore, the first and foremost goal for designers is providing the best way to solve user problems. Don’t waste your time to put not so important factors, but make sure your product serves user goals by having the right set of features and putting the features in the right places.
2. Design Experiences, Not Features.
Creating marvelous features is not important. User experience is more about holistic perceptions from beginning to end of user interactions with the system. An excellent interface design and cool features might grab users attentions, but if the excellence does not continue by program errors or the features are not helpful in accomplishing goals users will abandon your product. Keep the standards throughout the entire service, and don’t make users too much surprised by unexpected events.
3. Keep It Simple
Simplicity is the most common buzzword in user experience design, but the question is how simple should it be? It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cut off all the less important features or hide elements from the screen to keep it simple, but based on thorough understanding of users and their goals the elements and process should be coordinated. Hidden menus can be annoying for busy users, and features can be spread over sequential process. Try to make simple but enough to accomplish user goals, and use systematic approach, prioritize features, keep the consistency, and focus on the most essential ideas.
4. Don’t Ask Too Much
Be careful when you need to get inputs from the users. Users don’t care what you need and don’t want to be bothered if it’s not critical or benefits are not obvious. They might want to control but not enjoy configuring all the way out of bad experiences. Provide the defaults, make it clear how to do the most common and important tasks, and get them working right away. If you need users input explicitly show the benefits users would get, but key is with least amount of input users should be able to know what your product offers.
5. Design For Problems
You may design the great service in a perfect scenario, but more often than not users encounter problems because system fails, connection is lost, and they make mistakes. Anticipate and design for the problems, user mistakes, and system errors. Don’t imagine that users use your product in the same condition as you do. Imagine the worst case scenarios and design relevant reactions for each case: when the network is slow or unavailable, devices are old or not supporting, users give incorrect inputs, or push back buttons. Test all the cases and see how your product works. Don’t forget using constraints, clear guidelines, and appropriate responses to reduce mistakes from users.
6. Make It Enjoyable
Anyhow, we are designing for humans not machines. Humans are irrational, emotional, and picky. Regardless of all the logical and scientific approaches and methodologies, emotional factors matter and attractive things do work better, as Donald Norman puts in his book, Emotional Design. Giving good impression with great look is important and delighting users with emotional touches can make a big difference. More importantly constant improvement by reflecting user feedback and social and technological trends is the only way to keep your users satisfied.
7. Don’t Try To Make Everybody Happy
Creating a design that pleases everyone is literally impossible, and you cannot make everything perfect. Instead, focus on the target users – most profitable and influential – and try to provide the best experience to make them happy. What are the most critical features, what makes them click, and how they love(hate) about other products, and what they want to realize. By narrowing down your focus at the beginning you can reduce the sheer amount of time and energy in pursuing unrealistic goal, but targeting right segment and providing the best service you will be able to create your own marketing troops with these happy customers. They are willing to share their experience and promote your product to their friends, so the key is think strategically and make hard decisions.