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5 Fundamental User Experience Design Principles

Published on Jul 09, 2020
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Today, we have an app for almost everything that we do in our everyday life. Everywhere around you’ll find people busy with their mobile phones. From laundry boy to personal consultant to tiffin service to meeting the partner to courier guy, everyone is accessing some or the other app at any given time.

But, there’s one thing that’s not consistent for different sets of users. It is the experience they get from the applications of their preferences. “Experience” is also the reason why so many apps fail. To solve this problem, interaction needs to be seamless so that the user finishes his goals (and, of course, your application’s goals) without even noticing.

Let’s talk about the 5 fundamental User Experience Design Principles, which product/graphic designers should follow to execute a seamless design.

1. Design for “U” means User and not You!

The term UX itself means User Experience. That is, the design has to focus on the needs of the user. But, designers make a common mistake of assuming the behaviour and needs of end-users, which is the main cause of product failure.

A solution to this problem is very simple. Perform thorough user research and user testing before getting into application design. These two processes will reveal the actual needs and behaviour of users.

2. Keep it Simple

Simplicity is one of the most essential elements of good design. But, what exactly is a simple design and how to achieve it?

Simply put, simplicity in the user experience design is for the users to be able to meet their goals most straightforwardly without facing any obstacles. Let me list down the principles of a simple UX design.

1. Your design should not require the user to spend even a single extra second to find out how to accomplish a task. 
2. The interface should contain clear steps for the user to navigate the site easily. 
3. Priority should be on a clean design. 
4. Avoid ambiguities, clutter, or inconsequential elements that might confuse the users. 
5. Use the easily understandable language. Use no technical jargon.

In short, aim for reducing the cognitive load (mental effort) of the user while interacting with the product.

3. User is the King, control should be in the User’s hand

In today’s era, all the services and too many options are available with users and that too on their fingertips. If your brand doesn’t suffice users’ needs, they’ll ruthlessly leave your platform and switch to another. Therefore, it's extremely important to treat users well, to understand them, and interact with them in a humanized way. 

By this, I mean, when two humans talk, they get feedback from each other, which helps them maintain a relationship. Or think of — when one person gives a command to others, they either deny or agree to work on it. Machines should also interact with humans in the same way and give feedback for every action performed. For example:

1. Give response to users for every single interaction on your app. The response can be for any action — a file is deleted, an email is sent, or even it can be an update like your food has been dispatched and will be delivered in 5 minutes. 

2. Always remember that humans are human. They can make mistakes. Or accidents can happen at any time. But, it is important for an interface to crosscheck if the user really wanted to perform that action.

4. Don’t reinvent the expected function

Designers like to show their capabilities of being creative, but it’s important to understand the right balance between iteration and innovation. 

In UX, familiarity is one of the most important factors. Understanding the context of a user is crucial as users will not use the application to test themselves constantly. After all, the app is meant for simplifying their life. 

Take an example - a user might be on the road trying to book a cab. The situation demands that the user should be able to book the cab with minimum clicks and with minimum attention to the technical aspects of the app. If not, then will the user continue using your app? I doubt that.

The basic structure of the major cab booking apps Uber & OLA remains consistent in both the apps making it easier for the user to perform their task with ease 

To achieve familiarity, you can learn from other application interfaces that the user is used to. It will also help you to understand the user’s practices and behaviour.

5. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is the arrangement of content in such a way that it highlights important elements. Designers need to draw the users’ attention to the important elements first. Once users are comfortable with the app, they can themselves navigate to the secondary features/elements.

For example, the navigation bar on the website or app contains only the major categories and subcategories are nested inside them. There are several ways to achieve hierarchy. One of them is through size. Users tend to naturally look at bigger elements first. You can bring the user’s attention by making the important element bigger than the rest of the elements.

User Experience Design: The Crux

Statista reports that by the end of 2020, there’ll be nearly 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world. Mobile devices will be the main channel for e-commerce sales, entertainment, and other digital customer interactions. Therefore, one cannot simply ignore the importance of user experience on their application.

Keeping these UX design principles in mind, you can also build successful applications. 

About the author: Annu Chhabra is the Senior Product Designer at Mantra Labs. She leads strategic design decisions at the organization. Apart from her impeccable design approach, she is also a fashion diva!

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