10 Principles for UX Novices!
We're about to dive headfirst into the wild world of UX design! And whether you're a fully-fledged UX Designer or just starting out, there's always room to soak up knowledge in our amazing and constantly expanding field. So, whether you're a total beginner or just looking for a way to go 'yep, I knew that already', let's get started.
1. The First Rule of UX Fight Club: Know Your Audience
Before you start designing anything, you've gotta channel your inner detective. Who are you designing for? What makes them tick? Do they prefer cats or dogs? Knowing your audience is like knowing whether to bring burgers or a pizza to a BBQ – getting it right is essential! Once you're Sherlock-level certain about your users, you're on the right path.
2. Keep It Simple, Silly
Complexity is the enemy of a great user experience. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while juggling flaming swords – someone ends up with something lodged where it shouldn't be. Keep things simple and straightforward. A good yardstick is whether a child could use your design. Ask your children or your friend's children to test your design and if they can't, you might have overcomplicated things. Simply take a step back towards simplicity, and you'll be fine!
2.5. Keep Your Content Simple Too
Pro tip: For content writing, try to make your content readable at a third grade (year 4 in the UK) reading level. Most adults can read far betterer than that, but that doesn't mean they love reading words with millions of syllables if they don't have to. Make their reading experience easy and they'll enjoy your design far more.
3. The Jedi Mind Trick: Guiding Users with Visual Hierarchy
UX Designers are like the Jedi of the digital world. We use visual hierarchy to guide users like Yoda guiding Luke through the swamps of Dagobah. This just means making important stuff like titles and key bits of information big and bold, like an AT-ST Walker stomping through the trees. Really obvious.
And make less important stuff like decorative images and non-important content more subtle, like an Ewok hiding in the bushes before it's vaporised. Yuck.
4. Buttons Are Not Suggestion Boxes
Buttons are not just pretty squares on the screen. They're like your very own digital power switches. Make them clickable and more importantly, make them look like buttons. If they don't scream "I'm a button!" like Deadpool screams for chimichangas, you're doing it wrong.
5. Mobile Madness: Embrace the Thumb Zone
Our thumbs are like tiny superheroes on mobile devices. Design your user interface with the "Thumb Zone" in mind. It's that magical area where users can comfortably tap without dislocating a digit. Which is getting harder and harder every year that phones get bigger and bigger. Bear in mind the limitations of having tiny hands in a world that seems to be making phones for giants, and your design should be thumbtastic!
6. Don't Make Users Hunt for Treasure
Consistency is the name of the game. If your app or website feels like a scavenger hunt where every element looks different, you've missed the mark. Keep navigation, clickable elements, colours, and fonts consistent. Users don't want to decipher a secret code every time they visit your digital realm.
Most just want to use your service to accomplish something, so make it easy for them to do so without trying too hard to 'make your mark' by being different.
In reality, people want your website to be similar to others they've used before because they like and need familiarity. Give them what they need and you'll be laughing.
7. Test Like You're in a Lab Experiment
Testing is like being in a science lab but without the white coats. Before unleashing your creation onto the world, run usability tests. These are vital for understanding if what you've designed is actually going to be successful or not!
Watch real people use your design and learn from their reactions. You'll be surprised how much you can improve your design just by seeing where users stumble, fumble, or do the Macarena. And if they do stumble, that's good - because it means you can learn from their mistakes and improve your work so they find it easier next time.
8. Feedback is Like Bacon: Everyone Loves It
Just like bacon makes everything better, feedback makes your design better. Listen to your users. Ask for their thoughts and opinions, and be as open to feedback as I am to restaurant recommendations, especially those that serve bacon.
9. Be Accessible: Everyone Deserves a Slice of the Pie
Inclusivity is key. Make your design accessible to everyone, whether they're using a screen reader, a keyboard, or just their voice. Even though you may not be differently-abled, there are a large proportion of your users who might be experiencing your designs in ways you didn't expect. So expect them!
Think of it like inviting all of your friends to the pizza party, even the gluten-free ones. Serve up 'normal' pizzas for the majority of your guests, but make sure there are gluten-free bases for those who don't want to be farting all night. Make sure your design caters for the majority of users who don't have different needs, but make damn sure that people with different needs can use your design too.
10. The Never-Ending Story: Continuous Learning
The UX design world is a bit like a certain superhero movie franchise. It needs to keep evolving and learning new ways to write entertaining stories, not stagnating and repeating the same old tired formulas over and over again. When you're designing, it's great to stay curious, keep learning, and keep up to date with the latest trends.
So there you have it, folks!
These UX design principles are your ticket to creating user experiences that are smoother than a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. Remember, keep it fun, keep it friendly, and don't be afraid to add your unique touch to your designs, as long as it enhances the experience of the USER. If it doesn't, don't add it!
Good luck, and may the UX force be with you!