Whether you are performing software development for a complex manufacturing system or a software development for a simple e-commerce application, your users are your customers so their experience needs to be at the forefront of your design. Your customers have a wide range of computer experience, so the screens or user interfaces they work with must be simple, uncluttered, and designed according to a workflow or process you expect your users to follow.
So how exactly do you deliver this first-rate user experience? First, let’s define exactly what user experience is and what it is not.
Wikipedia defines user experience design or UX design as the “overarching experience a person has as a result of their interactions with a particular product or service” and it “incorporates [several] disciplines to positively impact the overall user experience.”
Whitney Hess offers 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design. She says that some misconceptions of UX design are that it is constructing software user interfaces and applying usability principles to those designs. Some even assume that UX design is the responsibility of the art department who then makes those designs into striking front-ends. In actuality, user interface design and usability are two separate facets of UX design. These facets are the result of a collaborative process performed by members of a business to ensure that the end user has an overall positive user experience when interacting with the software application.
To better understand the 7 facets of user experience design, let’s take a look at Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb.
Source: Semantic Studios, http://www.semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php
In the above diagram, seven facets comprise the overall user experience. If you want to enhance user experiences for your software development project, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your product or service findable? – Remember that for most users, their first interaction with your product or service begins at a search engine where they attempt to find the answer to a particular need. Using techniques like search engine optimization can launch your product or service to the top of Google or Yahoo search engine results page and get you noticed.
- Is your product or service accessible? – These days your software application or website can be accessed practically anywhere and from any device. Making your software application or website cross-platform and cross-browser compatible not only makes your software application accessible to users with disabilities, it will also open doors to users with different operating systems, browsers, and mobile devices.
- Is your product or service desirable? – Leverage the power that identity and branding can bring to your desirability and credibility (facet #7), especially if your brand is well-established. Remember, people are very visual. Capitalize on this to make yourself desirable.
- Is your product or service usable? – Design simply, design for your users, and keep that design consistent to make your product or service usable, especially for those users that are using your system for the first time. If your users can’t find what they need or are distracted by all the clutter on a page, how will they perform the action that you want them to with your software application (submit an order form, sign a petition, etc.)?
- Is your product or service credible? – Establish yourself as a credible source for the product or service that you are offering. Trust is the key to persuasion. Your users need to trust you before they can be persuaded by your message.
- Is your product or service useful? – Relevance is king. Focus your message on the reason why your users would take the time to find and access you. For instance, if your site is a digital photography site, talk about digital photography.
- Is your product or service valuable? – If your users perceive that their overall user experience from your product provides them with value they can’t get anywhere else, they will keep coming back and may even spread the word to others about what you offer.
Ayoka is a trusted leader in User Experience Design for software development projects and web applications. Contact Ayoka User Experience Design & Consulting services today to find out how you can optimize user experiences for your next software development project.
Whitney Hess, 10 Most Common Misconceptions about User Experience Design. http://mashable.com/2009/01/09/user-experience-design/