Critical User Experience (UX) Practices

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In our earlier blog, we discussed the top user experience tools every designer needs. In this blog, we talk about critical UX practices.

Creating a great user experience needs to start with the validation of your problem, be included in your prototype, and continue to evolve as you beta test with users.
Good design cannot be tacked on to the end of a project.

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– Start From the Right Place
Start with human need and brand: Understand your users’ needs to design an appropriate product/service. Considering this from a brand perspective allows you to tune the experience so the user feels the brand in every interaction. Together, this turns your product/service into a unique, relevant and engaging experience that this is a unique reflection of your brand. This creates a good UX.

– Prototype your Project.
Mock-ups, wireframes, user flow diagrams, etc. have become the norm in the everyday life of a software project. Though one thing we find lacking more often than not is a clickable prototype. Protoypes allow us to LOOK at, PLAY with, VALIDATE and REFINE a product’s user experience . An ability to create “hot spots” (with static images) and allow the stakeholders to take the next logical step is very helpful. We use InVision for mobile and web prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform.

– Validate the Problem
Most teams leap from the client stating a need or problem to trying to solve for it without validating the actual issue. In our experience, the more time we spend unearthing the reason for beginning a creative or development journey, the faster we’re able to validate solutions and develop an MVP. All this ties well into the Lean UX approach that tests at every milestone and ensures success.

– Do More Usability Studies
When UX efforts fail, it is typically because the people involved in the design do not trust each other. In that context, one UX best practice is to not involve engineering in the discussion of various UX options. Let the UX team do the usability studies and come up with a viable, simple user experience uncluttered by views from other members of the team.

– Have Easily Digestible Experiences
Just because a UX is simple or understandable by the internal team does not mean users will think the same. Keeping the end users in mind and in-the-loop will significantly improve otherwise challenging experiences. Simplicity can be the difference in creating an active user vs. overwhelming (and losing) one.

– Focus on Iterations With a Small Set of Beta Users
A lot of companies are great at the initial design. Collecting features, learning about user personas, and figuring out a good first solution. But it is really hard to get it right on the first try. The best solution needs to be calibrated based on live feedback. Build iterations into your plan. This removes the pressure to “get it right” and re-focuses on speed and deep observation.

If you are a manager, you might want to read our blog on “Managing UX Projects“.

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bala