UX tips to prevent a project meltdown

Gabe Wong
October 6, 2021

You’re out with your work pals one night discussing how much of a hassle tracking data for your latest project in an excel spreadsheet has been. It takes too long and it’s clunky to say the least. Someone at the table has a bright idea: “Hey, why don’t we make an app that takes away some of the clumsiness of tracking data in excel! This is brilliant, we’re going to make millions!” You do some Googling at home and find there’s plenty you have to learn before you get started. This is it’s helpful to seek the help of professional software developers who can help you bring your idea to life. Not only can they bring your idea to life, they’ll also help you consider your user experience. You might be wondering why UX matters – isn’t it just the visual design that make your application look slick?  If your friend studied marketing and graphic design, they should be able to help you make your application look good, because after all, looks are everything… right?

Almost! An exceptionally designed user experience (UX) is more than just aesthetics and can drive a lot more than just oohs and aahs.  UX should help you realize operational efficiencies in your application and walk your users through the best experience possible. To help you through your UX design process, we’ve come up with six of the most important aspects to consider when building your application.

1. Form is not always function

Just because something looks nice, doesn’t mean it has great UX. You might be giddy looking at it the first time, but if the buttons aren’t in useful places to help users along in their day, the initial wow will fade and users will become frustrated. Consideration for work processes and user behaviour is important. When you think of the user’s experience as they navigate through your application, you can be sure that buttons are exactly where they need to be for users to perform their next steps and that data is being presented where it needs to be without overwhelming and distracting from your user’s tasks.

2. Usability is not defined by a set of features

Developing software for the sake of using a fancy new tech or features makes for a cumbersome experience. It’s like building a car for city driving by first deciding that needed to have monster truck tires because of an ad you saw on TV. Your application should solve a problem for your users and UX and business analysis methodologies should be employed to select the technology that brings it to life. By using this method, not only will the application be easy to use, you’ll have a master plan to go back to, and the technologies will be perfectly suited for the application that has been designed.

3. Mindfulness is not just for yoga

Clearly defining the purpose of your application sets you up for success. Having set goals and following a process that walks towards that goal is very important! It’s easy to start adding in features just for fun, thinking that we’re making things better for the users. But experience shows that this actually adds more noise and confuses people. Being mindful and using the ultimate purpose of the application as your True North can easily help you make decisions as to what extra things to add in order to help your user.

4. Building habits built for habits

My gym trainer once told me that it takes around 21 days to form a habit if you’re really trying. We’ve all developed habits and techniques when we perform our day-to-day tasks at work. That’s how we build efficiencies. Designing an application that not only considers your users habits , but shortens them not only increases workflow efficiencies, it reduces adoption and training time. To do this, we need to make sure we’re understanding our user’s workflows and designing to help improve them rather than replacing them altogether.

5. Consistency is king

Consistency is important not only from a branding standpoint, ie: fonts and colours, but  also for interactions and dynamics. It’s easy to get into the habit of designing on a case-by-case scenario as problems come up, but having a holistic view on your product and ensuring that you have pre-set standards for dynamics goes a long way. Is there a specific way to add items to rows? How about to columns? Bringing consistent dynamics and keeping interactions simple are repeatable can not only make the application easier to use, it will improve workflow efficiencies.

6. Ask your users

We’re all experts in our own fields. We’ve spent years and years studying to hone our craft and this is where we add value, so of course when we are thinking about helping our users, we want to share and help them with… everything. This might get tricky, because users might not be in the same level of knowledge as us, so when we make assumptions (we all do) and create dynamics, the users might not actually know how to use them. This is where UX research comes in. When we study our users’ workflows, we can do some early prototype testing to see if the assumptions we make about them solve their problems in an intuitive way.

Take away

There are many considerations at play when it comes to designing for your users, but worry not! There is a UX design process that steps through the client problem discovery to understand the problem we’re solving for, map out behaviours and workflows to understand where we can gain efficiencies with our solutions, designs and prototyping. We also consider the all important user testing to validate our assumptions. So, the next time you and your buddies are discussing an app to replace your clunky excel workflow, considering taking these steps and having a chat with Arcurve to be your technology partner.

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