6 key insights on UX design

4 min read
Laurence Adrian,
Tom Tancredi
  •  Oct 26, 2015
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At Dom & Tom, we’ve developed mobile apps and online platforms for over half a decade. We’ve had the privilege of working with amazing companies like General Electric, Hearst Corporation, Priceline, and many more.

After working on over 300 such projects, we’ve learned a ton of lessons. Now we’d like to share 6 important insights to help you take your user experience to the next level.

1. Focus on the presentation

One of the key issues of UX design is you’re always working against time. At some point you need to go pencils down and prepare for a presentation.

“If you can’t present your ideas, even if they’re fantastic, they won’t go live.”

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Design isn’t only about doing great work—it’s also about creating and holding a great presentation. If you can’t present your ideas, even if they’re fantastic, they won’t go live.

The people you’ll present to are either product managers, VPs, or even the CEO. They don’t know why or how your designs will increase their sales or client retention. It’s your responsibility to show them.

Each of them has their own role in the company, and they might not fully grasp the effectiveness of your improvements. You need to sell your ideas with a presentation.

Designers should keep this in mind: it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend coming up with great ideas if you don’t dedicate enough time to present those ideas.

“Within seconds, people must be able to understand the value you’re going to provide them.”

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The best way to do this? Take notes of your thought process. As soon as you come up with a great idea or make a change, write it down.Twitter Logo Sure, at the end you might end up with a million ideas, but only take the best ones into the presentation. Your presentation needs to be focused, concise, and relatable.

2. Great design tells a story

Your design should always be telling a story.Twitter Logo And that story needs to be told from the user’s perspective—not the business’s perspective. Within seconds, people must be able to understand the value you’re going to provide them. If they don’t, they’ll probably lose interest and bail.

The story you’re trying to tell should also be in line with your presentation. It should answer questions such as:

  • What do you want the user to do and why?
  • What’s in it for the user?

Even though your job is to design for a business, your designs have to speak to the user so that they feel engaged.Twitter Logo

“Great design tells a story.”

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To do this effectively, always understand the business’s audience. Always ask who you’re telling the story to. Start building from there.

3. Be aware of the technical constraints

The best designers have a technical mindsetTwitter Logo and at least a basic level of programming knowledge. They’re able to set a project up for success by keeping the project’s technical constraints in mind from the start.

Consider mobile design from the very beginning. Know the resolutions your work will be displayed at, or what platforms it’ll be hosted on (iOS, Android, phones, tablets, etc.).

For those of you who are great designers but don’t know details about the technical parts, we have 3 suggestions:

  1. Become knowledgeable. There are thousands of useful articles and courses scattered all across the web. Many of them are free or cost very little. You can easily read one helpful article a day or take a course, such as Responsive Web Design by Google, in a weekend. The better you become, the more successful you’ll be.
  2. Spend time with developers. Get to know their view of the projects you’re working on. A developer, for example, will always look for a simple solution. There are many ways to achieve complex interactions with minimal use of CSS and Javascript. By collaborating together, you can often come up with a faster and more eloquent solution.
  3. Ask a ton of questions. Everyone starts somewhere. Don’t hesitate to reach out on massive online communities, such as StackExchange or Quora, and ask whatever you need to know.

4. Simplify your choices

Don’t use 2 words when one will do.Twitter Logo One of your main focuses should be to never, ever confuse your user. A few tips:

  1. Consider one focus point per page/screen.Twitter Logo Decide what’s the most important element the user should see and make sure it’s as clear as possible.
  2. People don’t read. Write text that’s easily scannable. Many clients believe that telling a very elaborate story (via text) is important, but ultimately it doesn’t matter because people do not read it. Instead, focus on adding visual cues.
  3. More text does not add more value.Twitter Logo On the other hand, the right text in the right place is the most effective.

5. Let the data guide your work

When you’re unsure of which path to go down, let data validate the decision—there’s no reason to have people argue about what’s best.

Test your concepts as often as possible, either with A/B testing or user testing. Your goal should be to get the most amount of value with the least amount of effort.

Start with simple prototypes and show them to your target audience. This approach is more effective and, in many cases, also more time efficient.

“More text does not add more value.”

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This helps you to avoid going down a costly road with a high-fidelity prototype (a version that’s very close to the final product). Test, test, test. At each stage of the project.

6. Version your functionality

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Most projects have dozens of functionalities, and not all of them can be implemented at the same time.

Instead, take a step-by-step approach and avoid investing a year in a project without anything to show for it. It’s much better to launch a product as soon as its core functions are implemented, and then add layers as time permits. This is the concept of a minimal viable product (MVP).

Part of creating an MVP involves looking at all of the desired functionalities and prioritizing. Divide the development phase into versions. For example: version one will have the X core features that are considered to be necessary. Version 2 will bring in slight improvements to the current product and also add a couple of new features.

Break your project up into its functionalities and make sure that everything you make can be scaled, one way or the other.

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard