User Experience. The phrase is often mentioned in reference to websites and other interactive products. But what exactly is it, and how is it built?
To begin, the user experience includes a person’s emotional and behavioral reactions to a particular website. Most importantly, a clear UX functions like a digital piece of machinery, ensuring that all aspects of utility—a site’s intuitiveness and ease-of-use—work together to benefit the user.
As WDG’s resident information architect all of my projects follow a similar UX formula: research, target, mold. Want to know how to start an effective UX? Keep reading.
Structuring a sound user experience without doing your research is like…well, it’s a pretty bad way to start. Thorough research includes everything from understanding market data to branding strategies.
At WDG, we’re working on putting together an online radio streaming experience. To begin building out the user experience, we started with research. After combing through available online music experiences, project requirements and user feedback—and noting what worked and what didn’t—we gathered at the white board to prioritize features and functionality.
Who are your website’s primary users? Designing a user experience involves pre-meditating those users’ actions and movements throughout your website to ensure not only that the page layout meets the their expectations (for instance, you know to look to the top-right corner of a webpage to search), but also that users receive feedback to their actions.
Proto-personas are a particularly useful way to achieve this. By “mapping” a typical user, I can better understand their characteristics, motivations, and information needs. Proto-personas are based on conceptual users and include everything from their names to social status, dreams to pet peeves. Because actual persona development involves real users, and can be quite time-consuming, proto-personas are a great alternative.
Mold the Experience
After doing your research and mapping the users, the next step is to mold your findings into a consistent, unified experience. Elements like writing tone and typography are just as important as visual hierarchies and the logic of the experience—how users flow between information. All of these aspects tie into a successful UX.
For WDG’s radio streaming concept, for instance, we needed to rethink how to best incorporate the “like” function. This was particularly important because the “like” function on this site has a different purpose—it saves these tracks to the user’s profile.
Once a user hits the “like” button, the text next to icon changes to “unlike,” informing a user that they have liked the song and informs them of the steps they can take to reverse their action. Feedback like this reassures the user that the actions they are taking create the desired results.
At the end of the day, user experience is a symbiotic relationship between the user and the interface. When input provided by the user is confirmed by an interface, your users can feel confident that the website, and your brand, has their best interests in mind. Interested in starting a project?
Contact us to chat about your web needs and how we can help you strengthen your user experience.