UX Design: guiding before selling
Post promoted by Mays Digital. We can say many designers don’t have any idea of UX design, and it is understandable when you think about it: although this is not a recent discipline, website design didn’t focus on user experience as a whole, but it focused into creating beautiful interfaces no matter the result. But websites became businesses themselves: they became marketplaces of all sorts of products and services, and you no longer needed just a beautiful site, but a functional one that converts users into customers. UX design is about making the experience of using a website easy and fun for the user, and it is a way of creating a bond between the website and the user; this means both entities understanding each other: devices knowing what users require, and users understanding how the website performs easily. In this article, we’ll understand the basics of UX design, its main principles and characteristics, and why is it better guiding users for converting them into customers than attempting to make a sell directly.
UX design is about understanding users, their needs, their ability, their value and their limitations. It also comprises the objectives of a company and those from the project managers. The first goals of user experience design are:
- Giving the user a product that’s easy to use.
- Providing something that fulfills the requirements and expectations of the user
- Achieving the goals previously proposed.
Great user interfaces are engineered instead of being designed because, actually, there’s a process before the actual design that needs to be done. It is important to acknowledge that this process involves the visual design, or the aesthetics of the project in order to communicate an idea, the architecture of the information, which is the step of structuring and organizing the information of the product or service; the usability of the product, which is the stage where the user meets the goals, measuring the efficiency and satisfaction of them; the accessibility, which describes how people actually use the interface. This video can help you to understand what’s UX Design.
Understanding how users react
A good thing to understand how users are going to react is by comprehending that basic instincts are the main factors that motivate human activity in any area, and there are three basic instincts that will trigger activity, or at least, achieve the users focus their attention to them: food, fear and sex. These are the basic instincts that make us do things, but you might be wondering what do they have to do with web design. Well, they should be a priority while designing, so using them subtly can make a huge difference on the performance of how your products sell. Keep in mind that 3 out of 12 reasons why projects fail are related to user experience. These reasons are:
- Badly defined requirements
- The lack of (or poor) communication among developers, designers and users
- Stakeholder politics
They are not external factors, requirements that are badly defined could end up delaying the whole project, focusing attention in aspects that could be wrong or would not be used; a poor or nonexistent communication among designers, developers and users can make you deliver a product that’s not what the client requires, losing not only time, but your money and credibility. The sell is an emotional event. It is performed when individual users have a necessity to supply, driven by the basic instinct involved at the time. If users feel there’s a sense of certainty on obtain it, you need to learn to identify this feeling and then use emotional triggers to close the sell. In this order of ideas, the home page needs to capture users attention, and using curiosity is effective while guiding the users through the site until they reach the objective. Be sure to engage the users with fun content or gaming strategies. Also, it’s important to understand that users will follow intuitive steps, walking thru a website or even several of them before they make a sell or engage with the content, so make sure your site is organized in a way you don’t let the user escape. In this Quora question, you can see which user interface elements have cropped up in modern web sites and web apps, so you get an extended idea of what can you use.
Some advices on UX Design
Although it is a young discipline, UX Design is already consolidating as a great way to create websites with more engagement and sell capacity. These advices are important to help users follow a gradual process to complete a sell.
- Knowing your audience is basically the first thing you need to do. There are several tools for achieving this, like Google Analytics (that you can learn to integrate to your blog in this post) or Kissmetrics, a tool that tells you more about your audience in social terms than Analytics; you can also use social tools, like Hootsuite that tell you how your social content is spreading.
- Some of the major companies use interfaces that look alike. Those kinds of interfaces resemble for a reason: they are incredibly intuitive and their objectives are well established, being clear to the user.
- If something has changed, highlight it. This is important to make users know something’s been altered or modified, whether it is a comment, a submitted text, a selection, a picture or whatever. The page doesn’t refresh, but you let the user know something happened.
- Keep in mind that the amount of options affects the decision of the user to buy a product. For instance, if there are more options, there are going to be fewer chances of completing a sale. With less amount of options, there are more possibilities to make a sell.
- Faces have a great power in web design, so if you add them, be sure locate pictures with people facing right at the camera because people focus on the eyes. Users tend to feel more comfortable when they associate the content in the website with a person than with any other strategy.
- Something unavailable creates a reaction in the brains of people that indicates them to hurry up. So you can add a limited time element in your website for users to focus attention on it.
- Make it easy for them to upgrade, specially from the account page.
- Creating stories causes engagement because people understand the messages in a better and structured way than other cases; also, who doesn’t like stories? Use simple words and imagery that common users can relate to, so they understand easily what you’re transmitting.
- Make sure users can easily identify elements in your website. This means don’t try to reinvent the wheel while creating new icons. Users know the meaning of established imagery, although that doesn’t mean you cannot improve some elements; they need to be semantically accurate. There are several resources online you can put your hands on and use for free, like icon sets that have already taken care of semantics.
- Provide emergency exits to users in a clear and prominent way since they make mistakes very often and need a way out as fast as possible.
- Be aware of the visual hierarchy.
- Place social buttons to help users to like content through social proof; it always works with people who is unsure if the content or product is good since users tend to value the opinions of their peers more that the opinions of experts.
- Best designs not only help users fix their errors, but also prevent users from making them. For that, be sure to create beautiful components, and not overloading them with information. Make them beautiful and simple, and also keep in mind to make recovery messages simple, precisely expressing the problem and how can it be fixed.