User-centered web design: 'because I don't like it' is no longer an option
Until recently, we were carried away by the knowledge of experts and our own experience, acquired over years of professional life, leaving aside the user. Although both aspects are essential, professional biases always tend to manifest themselves, and we do not always spend enough time listening to the public.
"People ignores designs that ignores people"
Listen, investigate, learn: we must become a sponge capable of soaking up each of the aspects involved in the product we are designing. Study your competitors, analyze their weaknesses and strengths, find out what they are doing wrong, what approaches are similar to what your users may be looking for. A good benchmark will help you to really know your position in the market and will avoid unpleasant surprises. Establish clear key indicators in advance that help you rate your position in a truly measurable way with qualitative results.
Investigate in all possible (reliable) corners. Published studies, specialized publications, doctoral theses, white papers, institutional bodies ... We have in the palm of our hands the largest collection of knowledge that humanity has ever known. Take advantage of it to carry out a good desk research and acquire all the possible knowledge.
The user is the center
We have to understand the needs of the users to make sure that the journey we design is really focused on solving them.
In the same way that you have to know your product in depth, you must pay special attention to knowing your users as much as possible to address them in the most correct way. Users, scenarios, mental models, customer journey, user tests, design thinking sessions... are just some of the tools that will help you put yourself in their shoes, make a correct segmentation and address them in the most effective way possible.
There are great forgotten when it comes to testing with users. One of them is often the information architecture of your product. We have a multitude of tools that will allow you to run tests with users without requiring a complex or expensive setup. Making users and clients participate in the construction of the architecture and its taxonomy, you will be able to find problems to solve in stages prior to the publication of the project. The results of Card Sorting dynamics can help you identify conflictive points in your architecture, know user reaction times to certain tasks, or detect possible errors in the categorization of content. The most common thing is to come across this information after months of the project's life, leaving time, money and users along the way. None of them will return. Better to reverse the order, and go to the market with the greatest number of certainties possible.
When we use a digital product, we establish a conversation with it through interactions. Put on the user's shoes, put yourself in their shoes and create a user journey map. Try to know their feelings, reactions and thoughts throughout the key milestones of their interaction with the product. By knowing their frustrations, you will learn to avoid them, and by being aware of their feelings of success or relief, it will be easier for you to identify the way to reach them.
Measure the objectives achieved
Set clear project goals. What do I want to achieve? What problems do I need to solve? We must translate the knowledge acquired through analytics into specific and measurable indices, which will provide us with success or failure results in the key points of the product.
At this point we already have:
- Main objectives of the project and what indicators will show me if I am meeting them or not.
- In-depth knowledge of the product in question and its competitive environment.
- What is my user archetype. Age, sex, preferences, purchasing power, motivations at the time of purchase, profession, etc.
With all these tools in hand, we can start building from absolutely real, reliable and previously tested data.
There are many tools to build our project. We must choose the most appropriate for the occasion: sketches, high or low level wireframes, flow and / or navigation diagrams, interactive prototypes, etc. Ideally, most of the chosen solutions are executed collaboratively with the rest of the stakeholders involved, and undergo well-defined tests that allow us to move forward.
In addition to a delivery of the finished product, it is very important to ensure its consistency and scalability in times to come. It is often thought that the creation of design systems is something reserved for large projects of large companies, but the truth is that it should be a tool adaptable to any type and size of project, and proactive; nourished on a regular basis through knowledge of data, collected through analytics.
The search for user experience improvements should never end. It is a mistake to understand a UX project as something with a certain beginning and end in time. This is something that some large companies have already begun to understand, to the point that many of them already have user experience experts among their highest positions.
The product in operation must be subjected to constant scrutiny through advanced analytics, its objectives evaluated and reviewed, as well as the behaviors of its users. What is a success today, tomorrow is another product, and the day after tomorrow, something in oblivion surpassed by fierce competition. We are obliged to constant improvement and evolution.