Developing new products is significantly challenging, both from the idea and technology standpoints. Having a brilliant idea with great technology knowhow isn’t enough to launch products and stay competitive. User Experience Design, one of the less talked about nuances of product or application development is one of the major drivers of product acceptability.
Designing intuitive products has never been easy. Apart from the colors, fonts, interactions and images, designers also need to think about multiple breakpoints, resolutions, devices and browsers. UX Designing involves a lot of efforts and demands stepping in the shoes of an end user. Remember, a poor user experience can decrease the share of voice and create a bad recall thereby impacting the overall reputation of the brand and the overall customer base.
For designers, it is extremely important to keep up with the pace of ongoing digital revolution. With technological advances in the digital ecosystem, designers might have to solve problems they haven’t solved before and these basic UX principles can guide the product design team during such times.
Outlined below are the 6 UX principles that guide product design:
1. Ensure alignment and proximity – Alignment and proximity of design elements such as buttons and images can make or break the design. Alignment provides a proper visual hierarchy and meaning to entire design. Content that is structured in proper grids and columns passes the information through to the users. Apart from the structure, proximity is important. Objects that are close to one another look more related. While designing products, ensure that the related objects are close like a family and unrelated objects are not grouped together.
2. Utilize gaps to break patterns – A human brain visualizes and frames patterns when they actually do not exist. If designers can design product pathways and navigation with a particular pattern, considering the navigation and presentation rules, it can onboard users quickly. At times designers can also break the path and attract eyeballs with the broken space. Spacing and placement can draw quick attention to smaller, meaningful calls to action that designers want users to click. Creating visual pathways and leaving the tension gaps empty is just one option. Product designers can also use colors to form a pathway or change the weight of the set of objects to make them stand out.
3. Connect with context – Being contextual helps to connect with the end users. Product designers need to frame user stories, map personas and ensure that users are contextually aware about where they precisely are in their journey. Contextual designs are user-centered as they anticipate the user needs and ensure that the context is sticky and it is satiating the user instantly. Apart from designing for second screens, level 4 media queries will help product designers utilize context and environment in much better way. For an eg. accessing the device’s sensor, a different color and contrast is provided to the user depending on whether he is visiting on a sunny afternoon or midnight hours, making it more readable and satisfying.
4. Use the usual – Experimenting fresh patterns can be extremely dangerous. Objects or design patterns that are not previously used by others in the industry can be tricky as the design might look very creative prima facie, but will fail to convert users. Users might dabble with the new icons, objects and interactions for long and bounce off. Using familiar concepts with known UX techniques can lead to quicker actions.
5. Differentiate with colors – Colors symbolize a lot and can change the meaning drastically. How many e-commerce products use red button for confirmation? None, may be! That’s because color signifies action. Red is usually negative and may be used to delete or undo or cancel. At times, product designers can use a color and a pattern repeatedly on the screen to draw attention and increase prominence. Certain striking colors can be a good fit for calls to action whereas certain others can fit more appropriately to show warnings or errors. It’s good to use colors wisely and test them for usability. Try to incorporate colors in early stages of design. For an eg. introduce tones and their variances in low and high fidelity wireframes, introduce colors in medium and high fidelity prototypes.
6. Stand out with visual weights – Visual weights with accurate contrast helps to stand out and draw attention quickly. However, if weights aren’t used wisely it can distract the users from taking the primary action. Product designers can use contrast and make things darker if the background interface imagery is light. Some interfaces also differentiate objects and interactions using depth and size. Using shadow effects with larger objects easily catches attention. In design, usually big means something that is more important than other things around.
New product design and development both require putting users at the center. Product design that follows all the above fundamental UX principles will not only attract users, but also convert them quickly. Early design thinking and usability testing will help you to validate your design concepts thereby allowing you to remain competitive.