Three tips to take a product from good to great.
When I think about what makes a good user experience (UX), the first thing that comes to mind is when a product just works. But how do you do that? You have to step out of your strategic shoes for a minute and think beyond what your user needs, think about the emotional side of your experience and how it impacts your user.
First, let’s break down the concept of something that "just works":
Your users expect your product to deliver on the things it promises to do. That part is table stakes. If they’ve downloaded an app that claims it will help them save money toward their personal goals, but they can’t figure out how to connect it to their bank, they won’t use it long.
Making sure that your product is technically sound should be priority number one, and once you feel good about that, you’re well on your way to creating a great digital experience that helps your users.
But that alone often isn’t enough to create an experience that is intuitive, seamless, and loved by users.
A great user experience feels effortless, and sometimes knows what I need before I do. For a user, the measure of success that's not often talked about is how little they have to think about the experience. That can sound counterintuitive, though. You’ve just invested a bunch of money into your product, and users aren’t going to think about it? Your user only wants to think about their goal being accomplished, not how it’s getting accomplished.
People usually only think about how a product works when it’s not working.
When they don’t have to think about the ‘how’, the experience feels a bit more like magic and less like work. People usually only think about how a product works when it’s not working, and that’s often combined with feelings of frustration or confusion (which I’m sure you want to avoid).
So what can you do to help your product feel like a magical experience that’s easy to use, solves their needs, and makes them want to return again and again? Here are a few key areas you can focus on to take your product from good to great.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: if your product doesn’t work at a basic level to achieve your user's needs, you can spend as much time as you want on visual design and it won’t make a difference. We’ve all used plenty of apps or products where at first, you’re impressed because the branding is on point, it’s got nice animations, and overall it feels like a high-quality product.
That is, until you realize it isn’t. When you see past the shiny layer on top, you realize that it’s really held together with duct tape and paper clips.
Once you’ve got the core functionality down, there’s tons of opportunity to level up through visual design.
This is the time to think about the emotional piece of your product and how you want your users to feel when they interact with it. Armed with that knowledge, revisit how you are leveraging color, typography, and layout. Do they add up to the feeling you’re hoping for?
What about the assets you're using? Those stock photos and free fonts may have been perfect to get your product off the ground, but maybe it’s time to consider how a photoshoot or custom illustration could make your product feel more personalized and enjoyable to use.
Interaction design aims to create products that help users achieve their objective(s) in the best way possible. I also believe it means thinking very intentionally about the user's feelings and finding ways to add a little something extra that they may not be expecting.
When done well, you can help your user accomplish their goals faster, more thoughtfully, and with joy. These little bonuses (or moments of surprise and delight as they’re known around the ZoCo studio) can add up in a pretty big way toward getting users from the ‘like it’ mindset, to the ‘love it’ mindset.
We’re big advocates for user research at ZoCo and believes it's an integral part of a good UX process. User research is often associated with the beginning of the process. It may be used to better understand your audience through personas or to map their journey and uncover opportunities, but it is just as important after you’ve built (or started building) your product.
Take some time to test the improvements you’ve made to the user's workflow. Do they help? Is it easy to understand and accessible? User testing is one of the best ways to level up your digital experience and move toward that magical feeling. It’s also worth continuing to test as you implement new features or refine areas of your application.
These are a few methods we evaluate to help our clients get the most out of their digital experiences and to better serve their users. While they aren’t the only ones, they’re a great starting point that helps us push products towards that ‘just works’ feeling that is associated with some of the best products and experiences in the world.
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