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UX Design

UX design practices that will ensure your product’s success

Great ideas make great businesses, so if you’ve just had your million-dollar spark, congratulations! So, what’s next? As we’re sure you are aware, taking a product to market is complex: your idea needs to be fully conceptualized, tested, refined, built, launched, marketed and iterated. In our experience of bringing several products to life, we’ve found that the entire product realization process is anchored by one element: the UX design

Creating a user experience that delights is key to the success of any app or website. After all, your product is as good as what your customers think of it. You want your app or site to be easy for them to navigate, the functionality to be clear, for them to be confident of their actions, and for them to make this app or site part of their regular use. Bottom line: if customers like what they see and find it simple to purchase and use your product or service, they’re likely to keep coming back and will recommend you to others. 

With a bit of focused effort, you can create a UX that sets your offering apart from competitors.

What’s good UX practice, and how does it help?

A capable development agency will have a workflow in place that focuses heavily on UX, keeping the design as the central focus to build cost-effective solutions for you. To do so, it’s important to integrate UX design into the development process at every step:

Bringing the concept to life

The initial role of UX design is to capture your ideas and give them form. This gives you a glimpse of what’s to come, and is also useful to share with stakeholders within the business, investors, and future users.

Our design for a next-generation integrated business phone service enabled our client to generate a lot of excitement at an industry trade show.

Planning the MVP

Think of the initial UX designs as a concept car. Their purpose is to capture your product vision and give you a visual representation of your ideas. They inevitably result in discussions, disagreements, and iterations. Technical teams look at the design and start thinking about languages, platforms, architectures, APIs, and what data can be captured for analysis. Marketing teams begin planning how and where to market the product. The product manager works with the teams to outline a long-term vision and, more importantly, the immediate MVPs.

Innovation for a new kind of cart and shopping experience for a vending machine automation product.

Gaining early validation

Often, technical teams will create quick prototypes that allow users to interact with the UI. Tools such as Flinto aid in creating interactive UIs that can be tested with users or shown to investors. These sessions result in more iterations on specific UI screens or pages.

A complex security algorithm was designed with a user-centric approach and prototyped to obtain validation.

Building the product

The UX design morphs into detailed UI specifications for the MVP. Every pixel can be accounted for; there is no room for confusion or no design decisions by developers. Tech teams tease apart the UI into reusable components that solve functional needs while keeping an eye on the future vision.

Detailed designs help the development process.

Checking for pixel-perfectness

Next, UX designers use the built software to ensure that what was made is exactly what was specified. The UX design and UI specifications are compared against the actual software.

Every pixel matters. What gets developed is checked with what was designed to ensure absolute correctness.

Launch

Once the MVP is released, data starts coming in, and new features are planned. Once again, the UX design is updated, and the cycle repeats.

Succeeding iterations improved the product tremendously.

What you should ask your product development agency 

When selecting an agency to develop your product, be sure to choose one that cares about UX and has the expertise to back them. You want to find one that understands the importance of UX design and follows sound practices to weave it into all stages of product development. Some questions that will help in the selection process:

  • Do you take a design-first approach to your product development methodology?
  • Do you have on-staff UX designers who can deliver designs that are at the intersection of UX and technology?
  • Are your UX deliverables detailed enough that developers can create pixel-perfect apps/sites?
  • Is your definition of the UX design inclusive of items beyond the UI?

Agencies may have their own methodology, but the idea is to gauge what value the UX holds in their design process to aid you, your users, and the developers. If they check all these boxes, you’ve got yourself a winner.

Read about how we approached our own internal product UX design with a mix of empathy and design-thinking.

Building a new customer-facing product, or looking to revamp the UX of an existing one? We’d love to help! Get in touch

Categories
Strategy

Startups: Find and focus on your core value

Here’s a journey of many an entrepreneur. A kernel of an idea is formed. A bit of validation is performed. And the basic product is defined. It’s an exciting time. Almost immediately, the idea creator starts envisioning the multiple additional ways that the product could be used. Features start adding up and new target demographics are considered. The creator is continually thinking about the various ways that this product will be used. It’s in her thoughts during the commute home, in the morning shower, and pretty much all the time. Very soon, the product is doing lots of things for lots of people. The focus on the core value proposition is lost

What may have started as a tool to help realtors keep track of clients is now selling real estate online and helping with the closing settlement. Maybe it will also help with the new home furnishing and furniture layout. Design services will be provided. It’s all happening – here’s the one-stop real estate offering for buyers, sellers, realtors, and pretty much everyone else.

This is a trap. We’ve just got seduced by our own intelligence. And in the process, we have lost sight of the original offering that was to have added value. Startups need to focus on their core value they are offering their customers. Keep the following points in mind:

  1. Small is beautiful: Find the smallest offering that truly, fundamentally adds value. Find your core that you can build on. And then focus only on that. Discard any and all other auxiliary offering ideas.
  2. Execution beats ideas: Build the kernel of the idea. Build it in the simplest possible way to validate the core value. If necessary, fudge the backend.
  3. Shut up and ship: Get this offering to the market. Analyze the usage data. Interview the users. Validate (or adjust the core) but keep it small and focused.
  4. Don’t get seduced: Every additional feature, target user demographic or use case increases complexity and cost non-linearly and should be ruthlessly discarded unless it can prove itself.

At Ignite Solutions, we face this with our entrepreneurial clients all the time. In fact, we routinely advise our startup clients to narrow down their focus. This helps conserve valuable resources such as funds and speeds up time-to-market. This also helps them launch and iterate their offering.

What about you? Are you guilty of expanding the reach of your product before proving out its success or do you have a razor-sharp focus on the core value?

Categories
UX Design

Why User Experience (UX) is much more than UI

The UX is defined as how a user feels about engaging with your brand, before their first interaction, during all their interactions, and what they take away after their interactions. Do we end up delighting the user, leave them feeling meh or do we let them down? Very often, people use the term UI design interchangeably with the UX design. But in reality, the UX is more than just the UI.

The UX design of webpages, web apps, and mobile apps distil all these aspects explicitly in the design of the UI and the interactions for the user but also implicitly in the messaging and experiences that connect to the user before, during and after a visit or a transaction.

Positive user experience leads to solving the need that the user visited your web/mobile app, increases your brand perception and value in the user’s mind, encourages users to share their success with your brand, and all-in-all drives business success.

Here are the components that our UX designers routinely think through for any project. Some of them might be obvious but others may surprise you.

First Impressions

How does your UX strike people the first time they interact with you (and sometimes even before they interact with you).

  • Your Website This one is so obvious that I don’t talk much more about it.
  • App Store Descriptions The challenge here is: Can you convey the absolute key reason your app should be downloaded in six screens or less”? Our UX designers work closely with the product owners to fine-tune the screenshots (or pseudo screenshots with key messaging) that appear in the App Store (or Play Store) descriptions.
  • Onboarding For apps, this is a crucial component. Do you need a quick, clever way to describe your app to someone who has just downloaded it? Don’t expect the person to know what your app does just because they downloaded it.
  • The OG Tags What your users see when your app or webpage gets shared or when it appears in Google searches. This, often, is the first impression potential new users will get about your app or service. Make sure this is designed well and it leads people to the right point of engagement in your website.

The UX of the App

UI UX design of an app

This is what is meant when people think of the UI/UX of the app or web app. Here’s how we look at these parts:

  • The style guide: In addition to the obvious items such as logos, colors, and fonts, the style guide covers elements that consistently appear on the site such as
    • How to represent information hierarchies?
    • How much content is optimal for certain descriptions?
    • When to use certain callouts or alerts?
    • Types of calls-to-action and their representations.
UX extends beyond UI
  • The UI design: Of course! This one is obvious. Our UI design specifies the complete layout (for various mobile and desktop form factors). All interactions and any animations associated with these are provided in detail. Reusable design elements are identified to aid consistency of expectations. These are all provided as high-fidelity designs with the visual design elements completely specified along with the layout and the behaviors.
    The UI specs are augmented with specific additional functional specifications important for the UI. For instance, the validations for the fields or access control to certain sections of the app/site.
    In short, the UI design provides a detailed set of specifications for developers to produce pixel-perfect UIs (leaving nothing to interpretation).
  • Error messaging: Let’s face it. Most users will make some error or the other. Oftentimes, it may be UI field level validations (they didn’t enter a valid email address). Sometimes it may be a more complex issue (they are attempting to perform an invalid action). Or, it’s just that the server is unable to process the message. A good UX provides the user with a distinct visual explanation of what is wrong, why it’s wrong and conveys in the next action they should take. Our UX designers not only design the error experience but also validate this in the developed site/app.

Other Touchpoints

Email template
  • Email templates and content: Your app or web app will likely be sending emails to your users. Typical emails are email address confirmation emails, welcome emails, transaction confirmation emails, and, possibly promotions, monthly summaries or similar. This is an important touchpoint to your users and part of the pull to bring user’s back to the app. The design of email templates is considered part of the overall UX design and we routinely include this in our design outputs.  Equally important: what happens when a user clicks on any call to action. It should be clean, bring the user to the right context and, ideally, pre-fill any information required to complete the action.
  • Notifications: In-app, as well as push notifications, should be pity and caring about the user’s attention as a precious resource. The UX role here is to not overdo these. Notify only when necessary and bring the user to the right point in the app.
Notifications
  • Feedback mechanisms: In-app feedback mechanisms are important to obtain real, tangible input from your users. A lot of 3rd party services provide this feature. Integrate these well into the overall UX of your app.

Talk to us if you would like a comprehensive delightful UX design for your product.