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Understanding how to build a great user experience

Design & Branding

Joshua Davidson wrote this article


Instead of asking what makes a great user experience, we need to ask another question first.

What makes a great business?

It’s an easy answer on the surface.

A great business solves a problem or provides more value than anyone else. They do this by providing something to us that is fair and reasonable for the price, data or time that we are providing back to them.

Now that we have that covered, let’s go back to the main question and ask ourselves a follow-up.

What makes a great user experience for an application?

Honestly, a very easy answer here too.

A great user experience solves a problem or provides more value than any other application. They do this by providing something to us that is fair and reasonable for the compensation, data or time that we’re providing them back.

Notice the correlation?

Often enough, the biggest downfall we have seen to applications, especially on the user interface design side, is that they simply try to do too much.

That can be creating a solution to a problem not really needing to be solved or trying to just be another iteration of something that already exists.

When you’re creating a great app, whether that is mobile or for the web, that solves a real problem or provides the user value, it needs to do a few things.

Yes, looking beautiful and working great is one of them… but much more important, get right to the point of what it needs to accomplish.

Does your app really need a learning curve? Ask yourself that.

If you’re taking an action that people do every day, the answer should hands-down be a no.

If your app is something complex, such as needing to be integrated into something else, figure out the simplest way to walk your users through that process.

You only have a few moments to win someone over and into your ecosystem. Think about how easy it is to learn to use Uber. How easy it was to learn Snapchat. How easy it was to use Instacart. Does your application, your vision, compare to that?

The lower the learning curve, the more likely it is for you to see success with your app.

Same goes to onboarding a new user. You need to win them over.

Think about just how hard it is to get someone to download your app, visit your website. Incredibly tough, right?

Now think about how much easier it is to delete the app, hit the back button. Super easy, right?

Understand that we have short attention spans and in order to truly win someone over early, you need to get them bought into the ecosystem, your application, as quickly as possible.

Every second, every minute you force a new user, a new customer, a new prospect to go through a hoop to get there, the closer you are to losing them forever.

The poor user experiences are the ones that focus more on selling than showing.

A great user experience shows the customer the value of their app.

The poor user experience tells the customer the value of their app.

Always understand the difference.

Above all, the most important thing to understand about crafting a great user experience is understanding that a great user experience means a great human experience.

How relatable is your product to your target audience?

Is it serious enough?

Is it quirky enough?

Is it fun enough?

Does it communicate your narrative?

Your goals?

Your vision?

Every audience is different. No two audiences will ever be the same. The worst user experiences make the poor mistake of building their applications for the wrong audiences.

Take time to truly understand what you’re building for, who you’re building for and why you’re building your app.

At the end of the day, things like a proper brand, logo design, color scheme, they’re important… but not too important.

You will always see applications succeed with those as their secondary focus in the short-term.

Look at an app such as Peach. Another example is Quartz. Even mainstream products such as MyFitnessPal. Functionality always wins over design.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good design, though. Don’t undersell a good design, ever. A good design, hell, a great design, will always give you that over the top advantage.

Just remember to always put the right things on the pedestal, as your top focus, especially when it comes to creating a great user experience.

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