Great user experience is non-negotiable for digital products from step one

By Sunep Imchen

HT Labs

Delhi, India


Like everything in life, establishing a lasting impression goes a long way in determining positive outcomes in all possible future interactions. People generally form their initial perception based on a mix of sensory signals — visual, oral, touch, or smell — to arrive at their next course of action. While it may seem a bit fickle or even myopic to be passing fleeting judgments based on very little, that’s just how we tend to function.

So, it becomes increasingly important to cover all the touchpoints to attract, excite, and engage people to comprehensively build a promising first impression.

Creating a great product experience

Getting users interested, excited, and engaged with your product is a function of creating a design that incorporates familiarity yet manages to surprise and delight with functionality. But even before your retention strategies kick in, a product must “dazzle” users with a design that “sparks joy,” as Marie Kondo would say.

Remember when you downloaded that much-hyped app that was counterintuitive and left you utterly frustrated? We have all been there.

Understanding and delighting users by crafting a seamless user experience is the key differentiator between successful products and those that fail. What looks cool may not always be the best option unless it also accounts and accommodates for how users navigate and explore a product.

Forming first impressions

Impressions drive user behaviour and shape intent. To create a good impression means having the ability to persuade someone to make a decision that works in their favour.

The amount of information relayed and how it is presented to users so they can assimilate, understand, and judge is important. This cumulatively contributes to intent formation based on how the information is processed, understood, and experienced.

Defining a good user experience

The fundamental tenets of creating a good user experience lean on how one communicates an idea visually and how that helps one get to the desired goal, quickly and instinctively. Understanding how users are used to accessing and experiencing products requires incorporating design elements that help navigate the product features intuitively and efficiently. A good user experience must also avoid irritants that turn people off, and it must be managed without allowing the user journey to be hampered.

Understanding user experience in digital products

Users form an initial opinion before using products based on their assumptions. Convincing users to explore a product begins with clear communication on what the product offers and its key features. The tone of communication can vary based on a brand’s image and identity, but it’s always best to keep it brief.

Creating a holistic user experience

There are five key steps for creating a holistic user experience: gathering information, understanding users’ unmet needs, defining the problem, surfacing potential solutions to problems, and testing and finding the best fit.

1. Gathering information

The collection of information needed to define what the product aims to achieve is the first step. This is followed by identifying the users’ needs by living the customer’s experience and learning what is required. Without being biased, gathering as much detail as possible about your user stories and how they currently interact with the products and services available today is essential.

2. Understanding users’ unmet needs

Sometimes the problem being addressed does not end up being what you initially set out to tackle. Self-bias often kicks in while attempting to understand the user experience, which falsely leads to the belief that the core issue is identified and understood when the actual problem is broader, more nuanced, or different from what you initially assumed.

Instead, the focus should be on how users currently interact with the available resources and what they love and hate. It should also focus on examining human capabilities and behaviour once presented with the prototype.

3. Defining the problem

Once the initial steps of collecting information and understanding the pain points are complete, it is essential to highlight the key challenges to be addressed. The product must capture users’ attention right away. Clear communication about the product’s key offerings and what it aims to achieve should be distinctly defined. The idea is to be user-centric while keeping it easy to access and understand.

4. Surface potential solutions

Prototypes impact the project’s most crucial elements, including resources, time, and budget. Creating possible solutions to a problem helps identify hidden flaws and functional gaps. Therefore, it is possible to understand and estimate the number of necessary resources and development time.

Also, understanding each team member’s responsibilities helps to estimate the cost and realistically arrange development timelines. As a rule of thumb, this is an iterative process that favours ongoing experimentation until the most feasible solution is found and applied.

5. Testing and finding the best fit

Understanding the needs and expected behaviour of the target audience is essential for compelling and insightful user acceptability testing. Set clear acceptance criteria and practical test cases to complete the process quickly because it is difficult to test every product component to ensure it fulfills every users’ expectations.

Secondly, as the goal is to determine whether the product is market-ready, it is crucial to keep track of the data, collaborate with the development team, and communicate the findings to all relevant parties. Pre-approved test cases and acceptance criteria work as sources of truth, and choosing the right bug-tracking tool contributes to smooth communication with the developers.

Next steps

Good user experience development helps users establish an “emotional connection” with the product, including the sight, feel, tactile quality, sound animation, and speed. Consumer insights are a crucial component of a team’s design approach because user experience strongly emphasises users. Developing prototypes and conducting qualitative research enables product developers to learn about user reactions when people use an interface. An exemplary user interface sends out the message that the product’s purpose is to solve or address a problem, and that distinguishes a good product from a great one.

About Sunep Imchen

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