This year, it’s our goal at Mixed Media Creations to bring even more information to you about marketing. In our efforts, we’ve asked industry experts to share their experience and insight in some of the toughest aspects of marketing.
Kicking off this exciting new series, we’ve invited the amazing Rob Karlovetz, UI + UX Director of Connect Devices with Fossil Group, Inc., to share his invaluable insight on how to create a better user experience. With over 10 years of experience focused on UI + UX design, Rob has one goal – to always add value. His expertise ranges to a wide variety of industries including healthcare, technology, construction, and aviation.
We’re so honored and beyond grateful for the wisdom he’s imparted to our team, and incredibly excited to share his Six Principles for Better User Experiences with you.
The discussion of user experience (UX) can be had around virtually every product that a human being interacts with. From teakettles to mobile phones, there are experiences that are good, bad, or just plain ugly. In today’s fast-paced and digitally demanding landscape however, there is no room for the bad or the ugly. Across all products, digital or otherwise, the demand for a premium user experience is a pivotal attribute for success and longevity. As a result, the topic of user experience is almost never ending in today’s design spaces. Both UI (user interface) and UX designers want to talk about ideas like data-driven customer engagements and intuitive color responses. But is it really a question of the right button colors that define success or failure?
As important as these specificities are, they are just smaller parts of the larger question – “How can we better communicate with other people?“
When we focus on the larger question, we find some interesting and sage resources. The question of how people can better communicate with one another might be as old as humans themselves, with countless writings, musings, and scripts penned on the subject. Luckily for us, all of these thoughts have been boiled down to six core principles that are fundamental to successful human interactions. How do we know? Because they are just as successful today as when they were first transcribed over 80 years ago.
In 1936, Dale Carnegie published one of the most pivotal and influential books on understanding the human psyche, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The core ideas that he outlined then can easily be understood in terms of the modern UX practice today. While all of these ideas are well worth a discussion unto themselves, mapping each principle to our most fundamental UX practices is key to understanding how we can better orient our UX tasks in order to create the best products.
Be Interested in Me/Research
Before any kind of product experience can begin to facilitate a discussion with a user, you must first be genuinely interested in knowing who your customers are. This mantra has proved immensely successful for companies like Google, who invest almost exclusively in ways to simply know their customers better.
If you are not willing to invest in proper research, surveys, and on-site observation, then you cannot begin to develop a product that will hold a conversation with your users.
Remember My Name/Personas
Today’s technology and wealth of data means that there is almost no reason that every interaction I have with a product or service shouldn’t know me by name. The idea of a letter arriving in my mailbox postmarked to “Current Resident” is laughably absurd when we live in a world where SPAM emails craft correspondence that is more personable than those from family members.
As UX designers however, we cannot factor for every individual user, so we must extrapolate them into some broader personas. Based on your research, personas offer invaluable insight into who your users are and how they live their lives. If you can’t easily see your products through the lens of your personas, then you’re hoping that every person opening the mailbox also has a social security card that reads “Current Resident.”
Talk About What I Want/Journey Maps + User Flows
As product owners, you want users to buy your product, use your services, or “Like” your content, but if you can’t understand what they want, then you have nothing to gain from each other. Consider the recent Snapchat fiasco.
Snapchat had found a user experience that felt right at home with their target base. The methodologies of finding that mind-meld with their users have been obscured, but we can now clearly see that without truly considering what their customers wanted from the product experience, the company has found itself in a tailspin.
Some analysts believed early on that this might be the case.”Snap’s new product strategy and redesign runs counter to why Snapchat was appealing to its younger demographic in the first place and it could alienate that existing user base because they’re now trying to cater to the masses and Wall Street,” said Jessica Liu, a senior analyst at research firm Forrester.
By investing in site maps, journey maps, emotional maps, and user flows, you can leverage the learnings of your research and personas to begin to tell a story of value that is directly relevant to your users. Who your customers are and what they want should dictate how to build your experiences.
I Want to Feel Important/Features + Functions
The phrase “surprise and delight” is not a new element within UX discussions. It is the idea that no matter what people might expect from an experience, there is always a way to offer a level of service that is above and beyond.
Features and functions encompass all the capabilities that your product is proposed to do at the base level. Where we can make users feel important are the additional features that either cater to their unique needs or offer personalization capabilities.
Smiling is a welcoming action because it shows delight, generally makes everyone appear friendlier, and helps to communicate a positive experience. Just like the design/aesthetic of your product, it is often the first thing people notice about each other when they meet.
While UX design doesn’t focus primarily on the interface of your experience, the look and feel should be informed by all the research, personas, and features/functions efforts. YouTube Kids does an excellent job of designing for their primary target audience of younger users by keeping click points excessively large, labels clear and simple, and icons illustrative. For an audience that needs a lot of exaggerated actions in real life, it’s the broad smile required in a digital experience.
But be careful… too much “smiling,” and you might appear goofy. No “smiling,” and you might appear aloof or upset. Even the richest of user experiences, overflowing with features and value, will have a hard time winning users if the standard greeting is a scowl.
Listen to Me/Feedback
The world of data analytics has advanced to an amazing degree. Time on page, full clicks, half taps, swipes, funnel paths… we can know so much about what users are doing within your experience that it’s easy to forget that people still need to be heard. Knowing what users are doing is different from hearing what they are saying.
Open any app store and view any app, no matter how well established or successful. You don’t have to look very far to see the same one-star review over and over. “Worked before update. Now broken.” One has to wonder how many of these types of detrimental reviews could be avoided if users felt like they had a way to have their concerns heard within their experiences.
UI + UX Director for Connected Devices, Fossil
As a designer, I’m passionate about communication. As a dad, I’m too busy to tell you why I’m too busy. As a writer, I’m working on it. As a person, I am committed to always adding value.