Designing the UX of A Successful App: 6 Foundational Practices

23 May 2017 | Posted by Jaemie Dela Pena


If you have dabbled inside the idea of creating a new app or tech based start-up then you have heard the words ‘UX’ thrown around in conversations. Across different disciplines of tech business generation, the term of user experience is used interchangeably and has different meanings depending on who you’re speaking to. To put simply UX or user experience design is design focused on providing a tailored experience to deliver value to your desired audience. Contrary to the popular belief UX is not just visual and interface design, this image illustrates the difference between user experience and user interface (UI) design perfectly.


Designing the UX of A Successful App: 6 Foundational Practices

In the perfect scenario anyone would dedicate as much time and resources to designing the perfect experience. Hours of research, interviews and brainstorming would be done to ensure as smooth of a journey as possible. Unfortunately, in a start up scenario this may not always be the case, budgets start to run tight and MVP starts looking further away than expected. Urgency gets high and corners start getting cut in order to have something launched to start testing or show to investors. This article aims to guide you through the fundamentals of user experience and what are your non-negotiables in any situation. In other words, if all else is skipped make sure you keep these checked.


1. Know your audience – who are you designing for?

In many situations even until this day designers start designing without understanding who they are designing for. Questions you need to have answered before pen goes to paper are who is my target market? Why are they on this platform? What would they look for and what are their needs? If you cannot answer these questions it is time to go back to the drawing board.


2. Lay out the journey – what needs to be done and how do they get there?

Again in times of turmoil it is easy to just start designing ‘pretty’ interfaces without clear understanding of the end goals and how the end user will get there. What do you want your user to do? Is the user clear on how to get there? What is the user thinking during this journey? You can test your hypotheses later on but what is important is to answer these questions and start getting feedback.


3. Consistency, consistency, consistency

I don’t know anyone who likes an inconsistent design, but in any team things start getting missed, communication can break down and it may start looking like 5 people worked on the 1 page. It is important to have someone accountable to keeping the interface elements consistent, even at development stage.


4. Use intuitive cues – red means stop, green means go

There have been some absolutely beautiful applications/websites that are utterly confusing and convoluted. NEVER sacrifice usability for the sake of aesthetics. Use intuitive cues to ensure the user feels a familiarity and needs no further explanation e.g. green means go, red means stop, a left swipe is going forward and a right swipe means you’re going back. Keep to the basics at the start and add more flare once your audience is more familiar with your interface.


5. Keep in mind hierarchy and navigation – does the user know where they are at all times?

What’s worse than feeling lost at the shopping centre as a child and not knowing where to go? Don’t recreate this trauma, make sure you always keep navigation and hierarchy in mind. At any point of the platform does the user know how far deep they’re in? Can the user easily navigate to a page or sub page? This relays the importance of structuring information architecture and using design cues to signify depth.


6. Feedback – did they just do something?

Again remembering back to being a child, when you played with toys there was always a sense of tactility. Clicking a button would make a noise, pulling the string would wind it up, these principals are equally as important for the UX of an application. It is important that for any action the user is getting feedback to confirm their hypothesis that doing that action would create a reaction. Does the user know they just did that certain action? Could we use a confirmation notification here?


Although there is a plethora of other things to keep in mind when designing the user experience for an app, if you can comply with at least these 6 points you will ensure a solid foundation for good user experience. Through many iterations it is important to always keep these things in check and not get lost in over analysis or over calculation of your designs.

Jaemie Dela Pena

Experienced Product Designer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Product Design, UX, Sales and E-commerce. Strong program and project management professional with a Bachelor of Commerce combined Science focused in Marketing & Software Technology from Macquarie University.


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