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Basic Principles of User Experience in Web Design

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User Experience Planning

User Experience (UX) design is a process that developers and designers use to create a worthwhile experience for users of apps, software, and websites. It is used to tailor the journey a user takes and defines their experience based on the intention of the application. While User Experience is not a black and white subject and is often misunderstood, there are some key principles that can be followed to ensure inclusivity in the digital space and ensure good user experiences. These principles are:

1. Useful.

If a product doesn’t help anyone, there’s not much point in putting it on the market. If it doesn’t serve its purpose, it probably won’t get attention in a market full of purposeful and useful products. It is worth noting that “useful” is in the eyes of the viewer, and anything that offers unrealistic benefits such as fun or aesthetics can be considered “useful”.

For example, a piece of software or a work of art can be considered useful even if the user is unable to achieve the goals that others find meaningful.

2. Usable.

Usability is concerned with allowing the user of a product to achieve their desired result. We can think about this in terms of good and bad examples. I.e. a computer game that requires three sets of control pads will be less useable than one that requires two. A good example is the iPod. When compared to the other MP3 players of its generation it easily won the market share due to its useablitiy.

For a product to be useful to a consumer, they must first be able to find it. This is especially relevant when discussing the digital space because of the saturation of content. This applies also to the content any particular user is looking for within a digital product.

Credibility relates to the ability of the user to trust in the product that you’ve provided. Not just that it does the job that it is supposed to do but that it will last for a reasonable amount of time and that the information provided with it is accurate and fit-for-purpose.

Desirabile is an easy one to define, we all have products we find more desirable than others. The complication comes in through personal preference. One person might desire a Macpac for it’s practicality whereas the other might desire a Gucci handbag due to the brand’s status. However no one desires a knock off of either over the real thing. We can create diserability through brand image and purvey the ideals of a brand through design and content.

Sadly, accessibility often gets lost in the mix when creating user experiences. Accessibility is about providing an experience which can be accessed by users of a full range of abilities – this includes those who are disabled in some respect such as hearing loss, impaired vision, motion impaired or learning impaired.

Design for accessibility is often seen by companies as a waste of money because the impression is that people with disabilities make up a small segment of the population. In fact, in the United States at least 19% of people have a disability according to the census data and it is likely that this number is higher in less developed nations.

That’s 1 in 5 people in the audience for your product that may not be able to use it if it’s not accessible or 20% of your total market!

It’s also worth remembering that when you design for accessibility, you will often find that you create products that are easier for everyone to use not just those with disabilities. Don’t neglect accessibility in the user experience.

Finally, accessible design is now a legal obligation in many jurisdictions including the EU and failure to deliver it may result in fines. Sadly, this obligation is not being enforced as often as it should be.

Lastly and importantly, a product of any kind should provide value to the party that created it and to it’s user. Without this a product can not succeed. It’s also worth noting that the key influence on people deciding whether to purchase a product or not is value.

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Interaction Design Foundation

The US census results for disability – https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html

Peter Morville’s original work on the 7 facets of user experience may be found here – http://semanticstudios.com/user_experience_design/