Emerging principles of UX

If we break down user experience into its component pieces, what do we get? A bit of psychology, a bit of visual design, a lot of planning… It sounds easy, but UX is more than just blending colours and doing a user survey here and there. As companies become more competitive, UX designers need to have more knowledge of all aspects that make users interact with your product- and this is what helps us stand out.

Psychology

Long story short (very, very short), UX designers need to understand the psychology of users. If they know behaviour patterns they can tell which feature will keep the user on your website for longer than just a quick look.

From a neurological point of view, our brain uses the eyes to understand UI elements as a whole and individually, and our attention has limits- this is why sometimes we use “selective attention”. For instance when someone asks you to count all the red objects in your room for 30 seconds, that’s all you focus on. If after those 30 seconds they ask you how many blue objects you have seen, you cannot answer. It doesn’t mean that you can’t see the blue objects, but that your attention was focused selectively on the red ones. This sort of mechanism works with website users and it’s essential that it is used to the best of your advantage as a product owner.

Never a monologue

People interacting with technology need to be engaged and to feel like their interaction is a conversation that goes two ways. The easiest example is iPhone’s Siri, the most “human” way of navigating a phone using friendly technology.

From this perspective, UX design needs to focus on persuading the users to act- and therefore feel involved- but also to educate them, to help them simplify tasks, to perform the tasks more efficiently, and even to impart happiness. In many similar cases the impact is greatly improved when there is a human conversation involved that resonates with your user.

Behaviour patterns

Understanding your users’ behaviours is the key to having them return to your website every few days. It’s the key to making sure that they don’t abandon your products after a few months, and to understand this concept the UX designer needs to focus on several aspects. First, they must identify what it is that brings the users back, and then they need to map certain personas on those loops for a better understanding of the patterns. The next step would be to enable the user to jump from a shorter loop to a longer one, and the other way round. Users could learn how your product works, which is what would keep making them return. And the last and crucial step (in terms of development) is creating new engagement loops from these findings- expanding!

The conclusion is that a UX designer must continuously improve these skills of recognising patters and understanding psychology and behaviours. This is an evolving market and there is no time to wait, and to practice the same old routine over and over again. So if you want to launch or improve your product, your UX designer must know about what motivates users, how the brain takes in views of a piece of information, and how to innovate. In a nutshell, make sure your UX designer is not just a colour specialist, but an expert in improving the user experience.

Arun Tomy

About Arun Tomy

A self-taught UX & RIA Developer in Bangalore, firmly believing that user experience design is a process, not something that you can put on top of a ready-made app like the icing on a cake. Learn more about Arun's services at domyinc.com and follow @aruntomy10 on Twitter.

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