Didn’t make it to the BrainSnacks sessions at this year’s Roberts Holiday Party? Well, you’re in luck, because we’re here to catch you up on everything you missed. For the first of the three amazing presentations, one developer (Jordan) and one digital designer (Jessi) were asked to share their knowledge about UX. And we figured, what better way to do that than with some music legends and cheesy musical metaphors! But first things first: what exactly is UX?
UX stands for User Experience. And simply put, good user experience design is something that requires little or no thought on the users’ part. Their digital experience should be intuitive, logical, and fun. So here are our chart-topping tips for creating great UX design with a little help for those who are a tad more musically inclined then we are. First up, we have The Notorious B.I.G. with “If You Don’t Know (Your Audience) Now You Know.” Next up is Vanilla Ice with “One-Hit Wonders, Word to ya’ Mother.” Then M.C. Hammer with “Hammer Pants and Hamburger Menus.” And last but not least, David Bowie with “Add a Little Ziggy Stardust to Your UX Design.”
If You Don’t Know (Your Audience) Now You Know:
You don’t get a nickname like “notorious” by fitting in with the crowd—you do it by getting the crowd to their feet. Just like Biggie, you want to bust onto the scene and make a name for yourself. The first step towards stand-out UX design is getting to know your audience and their online behavior. Knowing who your audience is and the types of devices they use will allow you to build your site around their needs.
Some of the tools we use to learn about our clients’ audiences here at Roberts include Google Analytics, Tableau, Piwik, Crazy Egg, Flurry, and locally we use HubShout. Knowing our audience is a key focus for Roberts when we’re creating a digital experience.
One-Hit Wonders, Word to ya’ Mother:
Everyone remembers “Ice Ice Baby,” but can you name a single other Vanilla Ice song? No? Well that’s because he’s what we call a One-Hit Wonder. Everyone’s favorite white-boy rapper walk-maned into the public eye, and then right back out again. So unless your goal is to make a short-lived comeback on Dancing with the Stars 10 years from now, don’t make your digital experience a one-hit wonder by appealing to only one target audience.
Your UX design should be tailored to your main audience, but without becoming so specific to them that it excludes other potential viewers. Stay generic enough to be a welcoming experience for anyone who comes in contact with your site or app. Here are some things to consider when creating a user experience for a broader audience:
Responsive Design: Consider all of the different devices your viewers are using when they visit you digital platform. Make sure nothing gets lost in translation between screen sizes and that the experience is fluid from device to device.
Mobile First: This is the idea of designing the mobile experience first and then basing the desktop and tablet version on that. As mobile access continues to gain traction, a non-responsive site can discourage users from returning to the site again in the future.
Accessibility: Make sure that you provide an inclusive digital experience for any and all audience members. A great example is this site we created for Jewish Senior Life. The site utilizes buttons and font sizes that are large enough for ease of use and readability for older audiences, but without overwhelming the younger audience.
Hammer Pants and Hamburger Menus: U Can’t Touch This Trend
We won’t make you confess, but we know there is at least one person reading this with a pair of Hammer Pants hidden away in their closet. Too nostalgic to get rid of but too out of style to ever see the light of day again! M.C. Hammer and his famous pants were a sensation for a moment and then quickly burned out. A trend in UX design can meet exactly the same tragic end, and we designers have a few nostalgic trends buried in the back of our closets as well. The hamburger menu, for example, is extremely popular in UX design, and is often used without a real rational other than “it’s cool.” But after a long run, we are seeing designers only use it when it makes sense and when it doesn’t, it is evolving into more detailed navigations such as the sticky top navigation.
Blindly buying into a web design trend completely is kind of like investing in 20 pairs of Hammer Pants … you may be the cool kid on the block for a minute, but it won’t last. Just like some of these tragic trends. And if you’re looking to reminisce, sites such as Way Back Machine (www.archive.org) will allow you take a look into your websites past like an old high school photo you tried to hide.
So here’s the lesson: Be aware of trends and keep up with the times, but don’t build your digital experience around them. Not all trends are good (like Flock of Seagulls hair) and not all trends last (like, thankfully, Flock of Seagulls hair) so always evaluate trends in terms of your audience and keep their needs at the forefront of your mind.
Add a Little Ziggy Stardust to Your UX Design: Be a UX Hero, Not Just for One Day
No matter how many times Bowie changed up his style over the years, his fans always stayed loyal. So just like Bowie, don’t be afraid of losing your audience and make sure you evolve your UX design with the times. Even after a website or app has gone live, it is never really done. It’s important to keep evolving, analyzing, and making adjustments to keep your website fresh. Here are some methods we use to keep a critical eye on our UX design:
AB Testing: AB testing is comparing two approaches with one different variable to each other. We utilize AB testing a lot with emails. Testing emails with different layouts and assets can give insight to what makes the most sense to a user.
Heat Maps: Heat maps allow us to evaluate the content on a site that is getting the most traffic. This way we can feature the content that the audience is most interested in more prominently and change this up over time.
Focus Groups: Focus Groups are an excellent way to test the effectiveness of your digital experience. By having a cross-section of your core audience evaluate your user experience, you can gain valuable and insightful feedback.
By using these techniques you can be a UX Hero and your design will live on forever just like Bowie’s music.
Striking the Perfect Note:
As you can see, UX design can create perfect harmony between your digital experience and your audience. If you start with these few “notes” and have a team of experts like us on your side, creating a great UX design and digital experiences for your audience can be as easy as ABC.