User experience design, what’s new and what’s practical

user experience design

One of the most important things to remember in user experience design is that how you think is probably different to how users think. In fact, if you are a web designer or a web developer you almost certainly do think differently.

Another important feature is user testing, getting to know your real-world users and investigating how they use your website or application on their terms. Learning what they want and how they expect they will get it. Something else you may want to consider when planning for a good user experience is A/B testing.

Techniques like the above will not likely ever change. Meanwhile, other features move on over time, even if gradually as slow as user behavior changes.

In this article, I will explain where user experience principles have made a difference to mobile, accessibility and even emerging technologies. FinallyI will share with you some of the current tools for improving User Experience design.

User experience for mobile

A mobile-centered design is all about putting the user experience of mobile users first.

When it was once important for UX designers to use the graceful degradation approach this is now replaced with progressive enhancements.

This follows a big shift in user behavior. When fewer users could be counted on to be using a mobile to access web content then it was acceptable to cater for those that did by gradually downgrading their experience. Stripping away bit by bit what could be accessed on the smaller screen.

Now that most users are accessing web content on the larger screen then it is more appropriate to give them the first consideration during the design process. This is why so many designers are opting for the mobile first approach.

The problem with graceful degradation is that it started by considering what the users need for desktop and tended to degrade based on what features did not translate well to mobile design in terms of how well they function not how vital they were to the experience. This could mean important features were lost just for superficial reasons.

To design with mobile first in mind the designers and developers need to rank what is the most important components of their experience for the smallest screen and build up from that point.

This mobile first approach is about more than what can be seen. As well as this it includes. The way the phone is held, the way the users scroll play and an important part.

When all possibilities are considered it is then time to think about enhancing the experience for those using a larger screen. These desktop and laptop users can then have everything they need and more. This way all users are covered.

Beware situations where users are still more likely to use desktop and laptop over mobile. Buying a house, booking a holiday, completing some business tasks. Tools like Google Analytics will help you uncover how your users prepare to access.

User experience for accessibility

Fine controls on a website can make an enormous difference to users with visual or motor impairments. it can make the difference between the ability to view your content or not. That could be the difference between taking a conversion or losing a customer.

The idea of introducing technical personalization` for users is growing in popularity. It means to give fine controls like text size, button size, amount of backlight.

This takes into account the wide range of users who struggle to read content but would have an easier time if the text was a little bigger or if the backlight was a little duller or a different color.

Designing for accessibility leads to the creation of convenient products that can be used by all kinds of people, with or without disabilities positively improving the experience for a wider group of people than expected.

User experience for technology

Augmented reality, virtual reality and voice interaction are all tools an online business can utilize as part of their brand’s online experience.

These technologies are opening up possibilities previously unseen and inaccessible or inconvenient or impossible.

When considering if investing the time, skill and money into making use of these technologies it is important to consider if it is a real enhancement or just a superficial gimmick.

To make sure that use of new technology is used to benefit your project it is important to know what your user is trying to do.

If they are buying furniture what could be on their mind that might cause them to abandon what they have placed in their shopping basket. IKEA understand this when they designed a product that allowed their customer to see how the furniture would look to scale in a defined room. Amazon seeing this success are now rumored to be delivering a similar experience for their products.

Investing in technology that gives you definition could be a great way to make you stand out from the crowd so long as you give a user what they need not what gets in their way.

Turbocharge your user experience with these tools

Optimal workshop suite – A suite of tools for all needs to help a team make user experience decisions with confidence.

Validately – A tool for remote testing.

UXPIN – Collaborate with users and make wireframes.

Optimizely – For experimenting with A/B Testing.