Working with startups, you often get one particular question regarding the app’s design – what is a secret to designing an interface that everyone will fall in love with? According to Keeble, even the best ideas can fully blossom only when confronted with real-life, potential users.
The napkin sketch
Obviously, the process of creating an application always starts with an idea. However, getting it down to paper is equally important. No special sketching skills are required, draw as you can – may even be on a napkin, should the inspiration come to you during a coffee break. Gathering your thoughts and writing them down lets you put your idea into perspective. The creator’s enthusiasm is undoubtedly helpful when the project requires long hours of work, but being too attached to your vision may narrow your perception, putting a shadow on the actual look and feel of the designed interface. That brings us to the next key element of developing user experience.
Coffee break feedback
Whether it’s latte or cappuccino – offering somebody a cup of coffee can work wonders! Find a place where you can meet your potential users, and don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Tell them about your idea, present drafts or mockups of the app, ask questions and most importantly – gather feedback. Startup founders tend to touch up on their apps endlessly before finally, they decide to show it to the world. However, such approach raises the problems of limited time and energy resources.
Unfortunately, even being a huge Back to the Future fan, I do realize that there is no time machine that would make it possible to regain a few more days, or weeks, to play and experiment with your app’s interface. That’s why it’s important to share your project with the users as early as possible, in beta stage or even before. Even the simplest sketch can be enough to get valuable feedback, showing if you’re following the right direction.
It all brings us to…
Enjoyment, simply. By definition, User Experience means delivering useful and friendly tools or solutions, that allows for intuitive interaction with the product. The truth is – using apps should be fun, and pleasurable. From the first use and click, the user should know what’s the purpose of the app and how to work with it.
Interacting and constantly confronting our solutions with users helps to deliver best products. Well-designed user experience combines content, features we want to share, with User Interface – build around the user perspective. These two elements, put together, are the key to success.
The road to achieving desired effect is often long and arduous, but it’s not a lonely journey. With the right tools, even inexperienced creators can easily go from point A to point… UX.
In the User Experience design process, traditional tools, like paper and pencil, can be just as helpful as electronic ones. You should take your time to get familiar with programs like Balsamic, UXPin or Sketch. There’s also InVision App, that allows sharing a project with others, and collect real-time feedback.
Product Canvas technique focuses on the idea and allows to organize your vision. Persona Canvas, on the other hand, allows defining your prototype user in great details. You can give him a name, come up with characteristics or hobbies – even adding a sample photo can be helpful. A very detailed description is helpful to determine to whom we want to deliver our product, and what needs and behaviors our app should answer.
App creators often focus on the functions. However, even the best feature ideas will go unnoticed, if it’s not clear in the app how to find them. The strategy of moving around the app should be well-thought and mapped out as well.
In a ready-made application, it is indispensable to implement mechanisms reporting users’ activity – what do they click on, how much time they spend on each screen, or how often they come back to the program. Free platforms, like Google Analytics, can help with collecting such information. Later in time, gathered data will allow you to confront your initial, subjective assumptions with actual user behaviors and preferences.
If I was to define one key word to describe great User Experience, I’d say – interaction. The relation between creators and potential users is as important as a relation between users and application. Listen carefully and observe, nobody has better knowledge about UX than users themselves. So…feel free to grab a coffee, and go ask questions. The answers you’re looking for may be just around the (coffee) corner.
This article was originally published in Polish at Mam Startup