Don Norman states in his book, The Design of Everyday Things, that “two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding.”
- Discoverability – Is it possible to even figure out what actions are possible and how to perform them?
- Understanding – What does it all mean? How is the product supposed to be used? What do all the different controls and settings mean?
These two features have the power to make or break a product, by creating a positive or negative user experience.
But to better understand how to craft a successful product, we need to talk about two processes that impact discoverability and understanding.
Table of Contents
1. Stop mixing up UX and UI
We need to clear something up before we get started.
UX = User Experience.
UI = User Interface.
Both UX Design and UI Design are crucial elements that will affect the success of your product.
Designing an intuitive and useful user experience will ensure that the people who use your product will enjoy using it. While UX Design takes a more technical approach to the matter, UI Design ensures that your product is easy to understand.
But let’s get technical for a little bit.
What is User Experience Design?
UX Design is the process of improving a user’s satisfaction with a product by focusing on its usability, thus increasing the user’s experience.
To achieve that, a UX Designer goes way beyond how a product should work. UX Design taps into psychology, research, and seeks to improve the usability of a product. Some of the responsibilities of a UX Designer include:
- Competitor Analysis
- Customer Analysis
- Content Strategy & Production
- Goal Tracking
- …and more.
In conclusion, the primary goal of a UX designer is to connect a user’s goals with the business’ goals and please both parties involved.
3 Tips for Better UX Design
- Look at the Behavior flow in Google Analytics
- Set up a Funnel Visualisation path
- Ask your users for feedback
What is User Interface Design?
While UX Design serves as the backbone of the customer journey, UI Design ensures that the product looks good, and users can understand at a glance what every element does.
Let’s look at a real-life situation to get a better understanding of how important a User Interface can be.
Most of you probably remember the Hawaii false missile alert of January 13, 2018.
An erroneous alert sent at 8:07 a.m. drove the whole state of Hawaii in a massive panic.
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
There are a lot of things that caused this major incident, but we’re just going to focus on one.
The message was distributed via push notifications and broadcasted on television.
Once things settled, a huge backlash hit the state officials and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
There are a lot of things that caused this major incident, but we’re going to focus only on one.
This is what the interface that made this error happen looked like.
Right off the bat, we can notice several issues:
- There is no organization or categorization.
- The interface is not intuitive. There is no way to know what will happen after you click one of the options. Will there be a second page? A confirmation pop-up? A drop-down?
- Is that 1. TEST Message a header or an URL?
All it takes is one minor mistake, computer freeze, or mouse error and you find yourself sending a state-wide missile threat notice.
Fairpixels’ Lead Designer worked on a quick redesign of the interface, showcasing how much you can improve it in only a few hours.
So when it comes to UI Design, it’s not about “making it look pretty”. A UI Designer has to provide a user with a useful and easy-to-understand interface.
Some of the responsibilities of a UI Designer include:
- User analysis
- Design research
- UI Prototyping
- Design & Animation
- …and more.
The primary goal of a UI Designer is to help a user have a simple and efficient interaction with the interface, so he can achieve his goals in the shortest time possible.
3 Tips for Better UI Design
- Set up event tracking via Google Tag Managers and see what elements your users interact with the most
- Run A/B Testing via Google Optimize
- Prioritize usability and clarity
2. Know who your customers are
Knowing your users is one of the most crucial aspects of user-centered design. Once you know the needs of your customers, you will be able to build a better final product.
One of the most efficient ways of discovering your customers is through customer personas. And the best way to create them is by taking a closer look at your existing customers.
Here are a few questions that’ll help you start defining your customers:
- Where will they use your product? At home, at work, or during a commute?
- How will they use it? Will you build a physical product (such as a hardware crypto wallet), or will it be digital? Will they use it on mobile or desktop?
- What is their occupation? Are they still studying, or are they employed? If they’re employed, where do they work?
- Why would they care about your product? What problem do they currently have that your product can solve?
Start by answering these questions, and you will be well on your way to designing a better product, website, or app.
SIDENOTE. You can also take a look at your competitors’ brand voice and marketing strategies, to get a better idea of who they’re targeting.
3. Content is more than just your blog post
Content is yet another important aspect of a user’s journey.
The headings on your landing page are pieces of content. So are the photos in your website’s headers, or the video in your about us page.
Nowadays, people usually don’t like to spend their time reading lengthy paragraphs. Instead, they skim through the content or they scan the page and read specific paragraphs.
And so, us copywriters must adapt.
1. Be clear & concise – Don’t try to sound fancy to impress your readers. Keep your copy simple and to the point, and make sure that people understand what you are writing.
2. Split test – Sometimes, you might find yourself in a situation where you can’t decide between 2 (or more) versions of a text. That’s when you should split test your versions, to see which performs best.
3. Consider your brand voice – Brand voice is an important aspect of copywriting that many people omit. Always adapt your writing to your audience. E.g. if your audience consists of industry professionals and businessmen, use a more professional tone.
4. Use proper grammar – There’s no arguing about how important grammar is. Improper grammar can hurt your brand by inspiring lack of quality and authenticity. We’re not saying that you should stress over a small spelling error or typo, but make sure you triple-check your copy before putting it out there.
Awesome tools to help your copywriting game
Some of them are free, others are paid, and others have a free version. Here are some of the tools that we use when crafting our copy.
- Grammarly – A great spell and grammar checking software with an amazing free version. Grammarly works great with Google Docs, Slack, Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, and much more. You can add it as a Chrome extension, use it online, or download it.
- Hemingway Editor – Hemingway is the perfect tool to help you break up long paragraphs, simplify phrases, and improve readability. You can use the free version online, or buy the desktop app for a mere $20.
- Google Optimize – This Google tool will help you split test your copy, track the result, and quickly deploy the best-performing version.
- Thesaurus – Do you ever feel like you’re using the same word over and over again? I sure do. That’s why I love Thesaurus. This awesome website has a massive database of words and expressions which will help you find synonyms for all your copy.
- WordCounter – This is a tool I discovered while I was doing research for this part of the post, and it blew me away. WordCounter gives you a list of your most used words, helping you keep an eye on your keywords as well as switch out some words that you’re using too much.
SIDENOTE. We took an in-depth look at crafting headers and Call-to-Actions in our post about Creating Banners that Drive CTR, so make sure you check it out for more tips & tricks.
4. The best UI is one that goes unnoticed
User interaction evolved together with internet technology, and it resembles the real world a lot. We know that pressing a button will cause an action to happen, and when we hover a piece of text and our cursor changes, we’re pretty sure we’re hovering a link.
Most of this interaction is subconscious. We effortlessly interact with most websites or apps because we already did it a thousand times, and we know how most of them work.
UI Elements are usually classified in 4 main categories:
- Input Controls such as dropdown lists, text fields, checkboxes;
- Navigational components such as breadcrumbs, pagination, and menus;
- Informational components such as tooltips, notifications or message boxes;
- Containers such as accordions.
When designing your interface, some elements might be more appropriate than others. Try to sketch and plan ahead what type of elements you should use to provide a smooth user experience.
Some elements (such as dropdown lists) can help you save space but will require extra attention from your users. If you’re not sure which will be the best options, test both of them and find out.
And remember that making a journey as short and simple as possible isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes it’s better to add extra elements (such as a confirmation pop-up) than to have your users accidentally delete their account with a misclick.
Just like with interaction, we got used to a certain way of navigating the internet. Most of us click on a website’s logo to go back to the homepage, which we know is located in the top-left corner. And when we click on a piece of text with a downward-pointing arrow next to it, we expect a dropdown menu.
The consistency of web design is what makes navigating the internet so easy. Imagine if instead of taking you to the homepage, the company logo will refresh the page or send you to the previous page.
That would be pretty frustrating.
When designing your website or your app, don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
Make the navigation natural and try to facilitate efficiency. At the same time, create patterns using layouts and language across all your pages. If your homepage has a certain layout, color palette, and language, mimic it on the rest of your pages. Otherwise, your users might get confused, and even believe they accidentally left your website.
6. Pay attention to your writing
I’m sorry. Let me try that again.
Typography is pretty important.
Typography helps you create clarity, hierarchy, and hook readers in. Using headings, text styling (bold, italic, or underline), and even different fonts can ease content skimming.
A great rule of thumb is: try to scroll through your content and read only the headings and stylized content. Can you make out what the content is about? If you can, congratulations. If it doesn’t, go back and work some more on editing.
Two other crucial aspects that make your content skimmable are font size and white space.
Cluttered content can make your content hard to read and can drive people away from your page.
In a study he conducted in 2016, Martin Pielot found the optimal font size to be between 18 and 22 pixels. The study tested both readability and comprehension, by using eye-tracking software and asking a series of questions at the end of the reading.
But this doesn’t mean you should always go for a font size of 18 points.
His research was conducted on Wikipedia pages, with the content taking up roughly 85% of the page width. And that’s where your page layout comes in.
Depending on the layout of your page (and on how much content you plan on adding), a large font size might make your page larger than it actually is.
So even though 18pt is optimal, sometimes it may be better to go for a smaller font size. Just make sure you don’t drop below 10, as it will make your page rather difficult to read. Especially for mobile users.
7. Test. Optimize. Repeat.
The most important part of UX and UI Design is the testing.
You can’t create an optimal user experience without testing your design first. And while UX testing & optimization might seem intimidating, tackling it can boost your results considerably.
So let’s talk about some methods that you can use to test your UX.1. Card Sorting
Card sorting is one of the most encountered methods of designing a UX.
Simply add all your content on separate cards (product descriptions, pricing page, support page, contact page) and ask your users to categorize and organize them.
This will allow you to avoid biased opinions by asking numerous people to design a user flow in the most logical way they see fit. Once they’re done, all you have to do is gather the data, process it, and implement it.2. Test it on your colleagues
Another simple method to test your UX is by testing it by asking your colleagues to test it.
This can be done with or without you supervising them. Ideally, you’ll want to observe how they interact with element, as you’ll know exactly what and how everything should be used.
But not everyone feels comfortable working with someone breathing down their necks. So you might want to ask them to mess around on your website and note down what they like and what they don’t.
When we were developing our Campaign Creation Interface, we asked our Advertising Managers, to test it. After giving them specific directions (e.g. set up a display campaign with 3 banners, targeting at least 5 countries and with a budget of at least €200/day), we watched them use the interface and took notes about everything they did.
We also asked them for direct feedback, to figure out exactly what and how they tried to achieve during each step.
Once we collected the data, we started adapting the interface and re-tested to see if their experience improved.3. Ask for customer feedback
A highly efficient way of testing your product is by directly asking your customers for feedback.
After all, they’re the people that will pay for and use it.
But here’s where you need to get creative, as a simple pop-up asking them “How can we improve our services” doesn’t really cut it.
A common way to get customer feedback is by providing those who respond with something in return – such as free tokens or a voucher. This will increase your response rate while helping you create a positive experience for loyal customers.
UX Design and UI Design are two very complex topics, which require thorough documentation and research. In this post we barely scratched the surface, but I hope that it helped clear things up a bit, and that you can now go deeper into these subjects for further study.
If you plan to do so, there are countless blogs that you can follow. Here are some of our favorites: