"UX design is the process of developing and improving the quality of interaction between a user and all aspects of a company. It's about products that are useful, easy to use, and engaging. UX design focuses on the overall feel of the experience and is not about visuals alone."
Jason Kalathas, Head of Design at Moosend
According to the above definition, UX design is not only implemented to create a product that will make sense and satisfy a user's intent. It is also the basis for a product's usability and the brand's visual strategy, overall branding, and, of course, the content strategy, as design that focuses on the prospect and the content they find valuable, consistent and meaningful, is essential to have.
Essentially, through UX design, users can enjoy the full experience of a product or even a website as a whole.
But as with all things that are simple, UX design is not easy to nail on the first try. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with the basics of UX principles. Which is what this post is all about. So, shall we?
The 4 quintessential UX principles
Yes, I know what you're thinking: UX is a field that is as ever-changing as the users themselves - which makes sense, as it's meant to enhance the user's experience.
And while there are plenty of online and website trends a designer can get sucked into, such as implementing an emotional design, there are some fundamental principles for UX design that engages users.
1. Always put the user first
The user is at the center of all UX design principles, which is to be expected, since the core of UX is the user.
Creating a website, a product, or even an email design meant to amaze is one of the biggest traps for designers. UX design is all about creating an unparalleled user experience, and this can only stem from the user's intent.
So, studying your users' needs is essential, as this is the element that will allow you to make educated decisions.
Allow the user to control the product and the end-result by figuring out what they need and why they would use your web page or product and not that of a competitor in your niche.
Make sure to study your data, implement heat maps to see the points of your website your users are most or least interested in and create a questionnaire to ask for more feedback on the changes your website may or may not need.
2. Consistency is key to good user experience
Imagine opening a book and not understanding how the writer goes from point A to point B. Would you keep reading that book, or would you just drop it for something more enjoyable?
If you're leaning towards the latter, you should ask the same question every time you complicate your UX design. Consistency is one of the most critical components, especially when building a website.
Consistency may mean "similarity" in some cases, to wit similar design on different web pages or even similarities between competitors' websites or products. But mainly, consistency means creating an experience that will flow and come naturally to the user.
Consistency is, of course, challenging, and creating something that functions a little too much like what your competitors already have designed may seem counterintuitive.
The reason behind researching competitors to create a great UX design that will make sense to your users is the fact that your users will try to give your product or website a shot based on a vague idea of how it should work.
Keep in mind that the better the UX, the shorter the learning curve, and the less the people who will bounce or opt-out. Try to be innovative while being consistent through your UX design efforts.
3. Language and typography in UX
Simple language is always best, which is evident when writing good product content means writing so a child can understand.
Great UX has everything to do with simple language. When a user visits a website, they don't expect to bother with technical terms. Simple, relatable language will stick with them and pop back to their heads when needed, as this is the language they use in their everyday lives.
So, you will need to sit down and think of a thing or two:
- What is your brand's tone, and how can you use that language to create consistency?
- What is your audience's background, and how simple a language is "too" simple?
- What is the typography that works best for your audience?
Which brings us to the second element of this step: Typography.
Typography is just as important to user experience as language, as the "looks" of that language can change the way users perceive it.
So, make sure to consider the following when choosing your typography's style:
- What is it that your website is trying to say? Is it a bold statement or a fun suggestion?
- Who is going to read it?
- How can it be easier for your users to read said statement, and how will it stick with them visually, as well as verbally?
4. Accessibility and hierarchy
Accessibility and hierarchy are two different things, sure, but bear with me.
Let's start with the latter. A hierarchical structure will allow you to create a tree-like map of your website and see how one action stems from the one before it and makes sense.
The Hierarchy Of UX Components
This type of structure will give your web pages a natural flow, which will make the experience all the more interactive and realistic for the user.
The whole point of the hierarchy is for the structure to be so clear and intuitive that the user will just know what step comes next, the way we all know where to look for a page's "X" button.
There are many benefits to a hierarchical approach. The biggest one is the designer's opportunity to figure out how the product is supposed to work and, eventually, think like the end-user.
For this to happen, two teams must communicate: the design team and the data team. Your data will show you exactly how the end-user thinks and how your design might be a little too complicated for their liking.
Make sure to utilize that data to create a page that makes sense and is accessible.
What does accessibility in UX mean, though?
Essentially, it's all about creating a design that everyone will be able to use, power users, and disabled people alike.
The website or your end product needs to make sense to everyone. After all, accessibility is one core aspect of UX - not to mention how beneficial it can be for your design, as it will help you keep it simple.
Be sure to consult ADA to make sure you understand how to make your website accessible to all audiences, from creating graphs to making sure your email marketing is just as convenient for people with disabilities as your website.
The above are, of course, the main components of great UX designs that will allow designers to go back to the basics and create designs that can be simple and, at the same time, beautiful and engaging.
As a designer, you need to remember that your users are the ones that need to benefit from your design; therefore, you don't need to over-complicate things.
In the end, what makes for great UX design is the fact that it's simple and continuously updated according to the users' intent and feedback.