Image source: Fresco
Good user experience is super important to attracting and retaining customers, and building this design is something that requires planning and effort. One way it can be made easier, however, is through using certain strategies and structures to help create the perfect vision and execute a solid UX scheme.
In this article we will talk about some of the strategies and templates that help consolidate a good UX strategy and how to best use them to your advantage.
Best strategies to improve UX
Improvement can be found anywhere, but isn’t always recognizable at a glance. It usually takes some inspiration and brainstorming to make actionable changes to any plan, and that includes user experience.
As an increasing number of businesses begin to prioritize UX, it becomes necessary to improve and evolve the experience you provide to consumers. This can seem daunting, but through certain strategies and approaches it’s a very accomplishable goal. Here are our best strategies to improve your user experience.
Creating a style guide
The very first thing that should be formalized when overhauling your user experience is a style guide. A style guide is a living document that lays out a specific set of rules, guidelines, and elements that will be globally adhered to when designing a new or existing experience. A style guide is essentially a list of design decisions that will be implemented on the product/website.
By creating a style guide you’re able to narrow down what will be included when building a new user experience and aggregate all of the elements that will go into it. This document brings cohesion and shared understanding to what the experience will look and feel like. By standardizing the elements the customer sees and interacts with you can create a cohesive experience and improve the navigability, experience, and understanding of the product/website.
There are many different things that go into creating a comprehensive style guide, the first of which is selecting a color palette that will represent your brand and product/website in general. This color palette might be established from previous interfaces or can be created to spice up the new and improved user experience.
Other things the UX style guide will include will be typography schemes, buttons, links, headings, menus, the list goes on. By organizing all of these elements it creates cohesion between the physical elements throughout the product/website, which therefore creates a baseline expectation for peoples experience with your product.
Effectively, creating a style guide is the most important step in improving the user’s experience because it aligns the interface that people see and creates a consistent experience throughout.
Conduct usability tests
One of the easiest ways to understand how to improve your user’s experience is by listening to their feedback. The best ways to gather feedback and implement changes going forward is by conducting usability tests.
Usability testing is critical to establish first what the user thinks and feels about their experience, and then take that feedback and establish ways to fulfill their needs.
The two kinds of usability tests that you can do are moderated usability tests and unmoderated usability tests. Moderated tests are conducted by an in-person guide who asks questions, prompts the user, and directly collects their feedback about the product in mind. Unmoderated usability testing is a similar experience just without the presence of a moderator. Users respond to prompts and gauge their feedback as a survey response.
Whichever test you choose to conduct, it’s fully up to you, and both types of test will establish results that will directly improve your user experience.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Trends are important to look at and take inspiration from, but sometimes the best thing you can do is simply stick to what works. While innovation is never a bad thing for a business to prioritize, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to restructure your user experience. Small changes can have a massive influence on people’s perception and experience, and it doesn’t always take a full overhaul to change how they feel.
When changing your interface to maximize your user experience, try integrating the core functions of a website to make it feel more familiar to the user. When people can quickly grasp your concept and your interface, they’re much more likely to latch on and have a positive takeaway.
Some examples of core website features could be a simple menu in the top bar, a contact box at the bottom, or even bold links to different sections of the site. Things like this can be very simple changes but might enable an entirely different style of interaction from your users.
Align layout & content strategy
While maintaining trends and pleasurable layouts are important to a good user experience, one of the principal things that will improve your user experience is providing relevant and useful content to the user.
This will not always be the easiest thing to do or might not fit conveniently on a landing page, but figuring out ways to integrate important content into your design means users will feel enabled in interacting with this content and therefore having a more positive experience.
Your content could feature a litany of different things including the company’s vision, some specific useful feature you offer customers, or even an informative blog post that you think users might be searching for. Using your content in this way helps ensure that users have strong takeaways from visiting your website and also helps establish a strong brand identity.
Besides simply inserting content, finding unique and stylish ways to do so is also really important for getting people to engage with your content. Without changing the elements on your page, sometimes simply changing their layout can help increase the users’ understanding of your message, and therefore improve their overall experience.
This could look like flipping the side bars, putting similar items close to each other, or progressing through the page in a narrative style. Whatever your choice may be, it’s important to consider these changes because they might be able to make a big difference.
Best templates to improve UX
While understanding the various strategies to improve your user experience is very helpful, it can also be important to plan out some design iterations in advance as well. In this section we will walk through some simple templates that will help create a design strategy and organize what needs to be prioritized in your style guide.
The design evolution template is the most basic matrix to evolve the design of your product/website and makes a great transition between online whiteboards and UX research.
To use this template you begin by posing the initial prototype of the product and how it works. This should be both reflective of the positive and negative aspects of the design and demonstrate how it functions currently.
The next box is space to incorporate the direct feedback received from customers. This feedback is crucial to guiding the design iterations forward and should always maintain priority. After all, when improving user experience the user has the most important perspective. This feedback can come from tests, surveys, or any other medium.
The next step in the design evolution process is beginning to iterate your design. There are three boxes on the bottom row of the template that each will hold a different iteration of the design, and as you move from one to another you will begin to narrow down the features that you want to see in the final version. By walking through multiple iterations on a visual platform, you can develop a strong vision for your product before you begin detailing what it will actually look like.
This template helps provide a ground level idea of what features you want to emphasize in your new user experience and provides a great launch pad to take your final iteration and start creating a design system based on your findings.
Engaging new customers
The engaging new customers template is not usually built for analyzing user experience, but it can easily be repurposed to do just that. This board focuses on the elements that the user interacts with during their journey through the product, beginning with how you reach them. This might involve what your advertising looks like, where people can find your product/site, and how they learn about you.
After establishing the reach of your product, you move on to the standout design elements that impress the user. These are the things that have a little bit of a wow factor, and also should draw the user in to really interact with the product. Depending on your design style this doesn’t have to be a shocking element, however, and it can simply be the style that intrigues users to interact further.
The next step is the engage section, and this is where the meat of the user’s experience will occur. Here you should focus on the elements that make up the largest portion of your design and the things that the user interacts with the most. When interacting with the product what features do you want to stand out, and how do you want them to look? This is a good question to ask in the “engage” section and helps determine where to focus the majority of your energy.
Finally, the template finishes with the exit and return sections. These are devoted to the lasting impressions that the user leaves the product/website with and the methods by which they return. The design elements in these portions are critical to the users experience and should be made very purposefully to draw them back to your product/website.
By walking through all of these steps you can effectively plan out every single stage of interaction with your principal user and formulate the perfect vision for how they will experience the scenario you create.
The Moscow Analysis
The Moscow Analysis is a popular prioritization board that creates clear boundaries and guidelines when starting a new project. While it’s not commonly used for improving user experience, it’s super easy to repurpose this board for that use case.
In the Moscow Analysis you simply place design elements, changes, or additions into one of four categories: must have, should have, could have, and won’t have. Based on the prioritization you can understand which elements are absolutely necessary to include in your design guidelines, which might not make the cut, and which will be avoided entirely.
When creating a solid user experience it’s equally as important to focus on what needs to be included as it is to understand what must be omitted. That is why the Moscow Analysis is such a useful template to use when improving your user experience. By organizing elements into these sections you can start planning how to approach your design system and spearhead a successful user experience.
Whether you’re starting a brand new interface and need to begin from scratch, or you’re making simple changes to try and take a step forward, there’s always time to improve your user experience. If you’re interested in learning more about how collaboration and workshops factor into UX, make sure you check out Fresco.
Fresco is a startup focused on providing unique visual collaboration solutions and expanding the potential of virtual whiteboards.