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How to Get Better User Experience Design for Software
Have you ever used software and felt completely frustrated by it? I have, and I always wonder what they were thinking when they created it. Did they not realize a real human being was going to be using it?
There are a number of reasons why user experience is important and it's vital that user experience is part of the process in every aspect of development. Every interaction a user has with the software is part of the experience and if it is a negative one, they will quickly stop using it or begin complaining about, which can mean the end of the software all together.
Principles in User Experience Design
Even though tricks are not the only way you can create a better user experience, they are useful in making the experience better. Realizing some trends in software development will help you create better software that your users actually enjoy.
Principle #1: People Make Mistakes
People make mistakes. It happens and none of us are immune to it. Making sure that you provide options whenever a permanent function is about to happen is just a good idea. Adding in a simple "Are you sure?" prompt can save your user a lot of time in the long run.
Principle #2: Radio Button vs. Combo Box
A combo box simply has no place if there are only two options available, plus it takes up more space. Make sure that you only use combo boxes in the event that there are a number of choices to choose from, otherwise stick to the trusty radio button. This will speed up the user experience and we all want to save time.
Principle #3: Get Rid of Pointless Notifications
Have you ever used software that has notifications that pop up for seemingly no reason at all? Have you been working in one window, only to be interrupted by a notification from another piece of software? Annoying features such as this should not be utilized. Users don't want to be distracted from what they are working on and this can easily cause the user to stop using that software all together.
Principle #4: Always Include a Progress Bar
There's nothing worse than not knowing if the action you requested from a piece of software is working or not. Always include a progress bar so that the user knows if the software is actually working or if it has frozen up for some reason. Conversions and uploads may take a few seconds, but a progress bar ensures the user that their request is actually taking place.
Trends can help create a better user experience. Whenever Microsoft Office is updated, you know which version you are using simply based on the design of the software package. Your software should utilize the same concept. For instance, updating your navigation tools is a great place to start and users immediately notice this upgrade in design.
Use White Space
The use of white space creates a very clean design that many users prefer. Our world is filled with clutter, but your software doesn't have to be. Clean, open designs encourage consumers to use their own creativity and allows them to focus their attention on the task at hand.
Create a Signature for Your Brand
You want your software to be easily recognized by all users. Fans of your software will quickly notice a color scheme or logo style and will be drawn to your software because of it. Incorporating color schemes can create an overall brand experience for your software as well as a pleasing user experience.
Make the software registration process as easy as possible. I know I won't register my software or I'll put it off indefinitely if the process is lengthy. Make registering your software fast and efficient and keep it in the software if possible rather than sending the user away to a website.
How to Make a Great User Experience
As you can see, the trends are not specific to making the software look pretty, but they are focused on making the overall experience better. Helping the user to understand the software more intuitively and to get more done in a shorter period of time are big focuses for better user experience design.
One of the main things to do whenever trying to make a better user experience design is to not stop developing the software when it is functional. Use the software, find the things that annoy you and make changes to eliminate those. Once you have done that, have the people who will actually use it, because let’s face it, that’s not you, use the software and provide feedback. The more you listen to those who will actually use the software and make changes to accommodate their needs, the better your chances are of creating software they will love.
Never make the mistake of thinking that you know what the user wants when approaching user experience design. Invariably, you will be wrong about what they want. Learn to listen to those who will actually use the software and you will not have to guess at it. They are more than willing to tell you about what will make them happy while using the software, so if you are willing to listen, and take notes, you will end up with a better end product.
User Experience and User Interface
One of the biggest confusions people have is between the terms "user experience" and "user interface." While they are not one in the same, they do work together. User interface is simply the user working with the software, but the experience is the more emotional aspect of using software. Experience affects how the user feels about the software and can be more difficult to define. Taking the time to ensure a good user experience can mean greater profits for you down the road.