Some Examples of Good UX:
The Printed Word
The New York Times, Riding the New Silk Road. In this fairly mundane topic of transportation, the team has created a compelling story because of the graphic interface and photos that guide you along the journey as you are reading about it.
The Washington Post’s profile of cyclist Joe Dombrowski. Ever since Lance Armstrong’s fall, you haven’t thought about cycling and even then, you didn’t think about it much. But the Washington Post put together a long-form article that seamlessly connects words and pictures and graphics that dare you not to care about Joe Dombrowski.
Uncube magazine’s in-depth study of Afritecture. “We wanted to gather together examples of an architecture that we contend could be a model for a possible future in Africa.” An exciting blend of traditional fonts, dynamic pictures, creative layouts, and graphics draws the reader into a movement they probably didn’t know existed.
Every time you open a newspaper or magazine, you are entering a world that someone else has created. You didn’t choose the people to profile or the subjects to explore. Your willingness to return time and again is based on their ability to enter you into the worlds that they have essentially created and presented for your enjoyment or edification.
If they succeed, you become a subscriber, a long-term customer, a loyal customer.
The Duolingo language app takes all the hurdles away and has you start learning a foreign language in literally 10 seconds. It is interactive, fun, and easy. The interface has you learning nouns through colorful pictures and then slowly adding in verbs. In a game-like atmosphere, you learn through pronunciations, site recognition of words, hearing sounds, translating, and writing. They have removed all barriers to easy entry into what can be the daunting challenge of learning a new language.
Grammarly is a free grammar checking service that allows people to edit just about anything, online, or offline. Through its web app, OS X desktop app, and Chrome extension, users can edit important memos, personal emails, college essays, and more, with quick, in-line suggestions to fix spelling errors, punctuation, and word choice.
Grammarly starts things off by prompting users to install the Chrome extension—thereby drawing users away from its web app experience. That’s not ideal, but once users are in the app, its nifty “Demo document” more than makes up for the inconvenience. The demo doc is a great example of “learn by doing” and teaches users how Grammarly would work with an uploaded document of their own.
The Path to Good UX
1. Re-examine your current content.
Suppose you’ve done the work of making sure your site conveys your desired user experience to visitors. Look next at every piece of content you’ve created that supports this perception. If you can’t emphatically say that each piece lives up to the standards you’ve set for yourself, then re-do it.
2. Find out who your users are.
If you don’t know your users inside and out, how can you assume that the experience you’re building is the one that’s most likely to appeal to them?
3. Balance the exciting with the familiar.
According to Google, new website visitors form “gut feelings” on new websites based on their visual complexity and its prototypicality (how similar the site looks compared to others in its category) in just 50 milliseconds. The average blink takes 200 milliseconds.
Research suggests that novelty excites different parts of our brains, leading to stronger interest and better engagement. But if prototypicality plays a role in user impressions, you must balance being both novel and conventional, and you can do that with your content. For example, you could try keeping your website’s design in line with conventional expectations, while also using unexpected language to provoke interest.
4.Limit choice and minimize distractions.
Stick to a single topic within each content piece. Presenting multiple topics leaves readers with several choices when it comes to determining the key takeaway from the article. Homing in on a single point will keep readers more focused and more receptive to your main point.
Limit the number of content pieces presented at any given time. Does your blog’s landing page scroll on and on, presenting snippets of 10, 20, or even more posts? Does your video library display dozens of videos at once for users to choose from? If so, try scaling back the number of options shown up front and see how your on-page engagement rates change.
5. Give users a starting point.
Tell users where to begin exploring a site’s content. If your site doesn’t yet take advantage of these features, try adding one or more today by determining where confusion is most likely to exist and what content pieces will best solve the issue. Don’t just trust that users will figure out where to go on their own. Show them what to do by presenting a single content recommendation.
6. Get feedback before, during, and after.
In the retail and food service space, “mystery shoppers” are often employed to give feedback about a particular store, the service, the cleanliness, transaction speed, etc. A valuable tool when starting a UX focus is to have a sampling of potential customer-types enter your space and navigate and give you feedback. It might be painful at first but the feedback will be invaluable as you seek to make all of your content into a compelling user experience.
It’s all about the customer. Zorg knew this and we know it . . . sometimes. Other times we get stuck in the details of production, of running the business and lose sight that the customer is always watching, judging, and evaluating where to spend their time and their money. While it’s often not even conscious, they are rapidly making decisions that will ultimately affect our bottom line.
Putting the customer experience at the tip of the spear brings the whole operation into focus.
If we have to achieve as a final result making a great UX for our customers, what does this mean for our production line, our hiring practices, our employee training, how we work all together? It could mean breaking a few eggs on the way to this omelette, but the end result should be quite tasty.