In the last couple of years, we have seen an explosion of multi-device usage, which has escalated the importance of user experience to the top. In that time, many blogs and articles have been written on the best practices and mistakes surrounding user experience. I, however, would like to touch on the mindsets that will derail your user experience.
All the bells and whistles – Everyone wants their website, app, and online presence to be different and, by being different, try to incorporate all the newest and trendy features as they become available. As a result, the application becomes like the house that has had several ad-hoc additions. It might be bigger and have more, but it is now incohesive and cluttered. The application becomes hard to navigate, possibly slow to load, difficult and repulsive to users.
To avoid this derailment, have a digital strategy plan before you begin. This plan will be the foundation for all applications – website, social, and apps. It will keep you accountable to your end goals and ensure user experience. Developing a digital strategy plan takes time, but it is worth the wait and investment.
One message, one audience – You want to reach the masses with your message whether it be a product or service. Although your product or service caters to everyone, your message will not. A single message may reach a small segment of your audience while alienating the rest because it does not relate to them.
To avoid this derailment, understand your audiences and get to know them. By researching and understanding your audiences, you will see why one message to reach them all will not work. Some of the best ways to get to know your audiences, what they want, and how they get it includes conducting focus groups and surveys, analyzing your data such as Google Analytics, and talking to your customers. This will help you create content that resonates with them.
Treating UX as a project – The thing with user experience is that users change. Their behaviors change. Their needs change. Back in the day, a website project was treated as a project, but things changed with web analytics. We began to understand user behavior and how to adapt the experience for them. If you are treating your application as a project with an end date, you may be reaching your audience now, but in a few months, you may not. The last thing you want to do is explain to your executives why your website or app is no longer relevant to your audience.
To avoid this derailment, think of your application as a process instead of a project. A process has no end, because, if done right, it will evolve and improve over time. Your digital strategy plan, suggested earlier, should include this approach, so you are not stuck with an irrelevant app or site when your users’ needs and behaviors change. You want to make sure your application is positioned to adapt user experience as needed.
Loyal to just one platform – I have spoken with many companies, agencies, and digital professionals who advocate their favorite platform. For the web, it is often WordPress or Drupal (Personally, I am a big fan of MODX because of the creative freedom it gives me). For social, many prefer Hootsuite over SproutSocial and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with favorites. We all have them, but the danger, especially for user experience, is when our favorite platform becomes the only one we use. We get so dependent on it that we make it work for everything even if there is a better solution. For example, you can go to Home Depot and buy 10 4×8 pieces of plywood, put them on the roof rack of your minivan, and drive home. The roof rack may work, but it wasn’t made for that type of cargo. Getting access to a pickup truck (or renting one) would be quicker and safer. Sure your platform with some jimmy-rigging might work, but it is not the best solution.
To avoid this derailment, experiment with other platforms. I love MODX, but I also know it is not the best solution for every client. I learn the need, understand the audience, and then use the right platform for optimal user experience. There is nothing wrong with a pool of resources and to think of the need to use only one may eventually drive you out of business or a job.
By avoiding these mindsets, many of the user experience mistakes will also be avoided. Think of your audience first and do what is best for them.