Any business application's user experience (UX) is essential because it directly influences how users interact with and perceive the product. A well-designed UX improves daily productivity, lessens friction, and leads to fewer mistakes, more efficiency, and happier users. Whether you want to improve an existing application or develop a new one from scratch, the practical tips below may help create a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.
You can also watch our webinar on the topic, which covers all the tips and more.
Level up your UX with these design tips
- Know your users and their goals – The demands of the end users are the starting point for effective UX. The team's primary goal is to provide solutions, and often, they make presumptions about who would use their product and for what purposes. By focusing on the actual users, the designer can clarify presumptions.
- Use real data and context – Designing by using fictitious sample data often fails to identify any challenging edge situations. Designers may easily modify the data to match their beautiful designs. Real data often tends to be overinflated, complex, or poorly formatted. The designer's job is to interpret it and create a suitable user interface (UI) around it. When reviewing your designs, using real devices and screen sizes is also a good idea.
- Steal as much as you can – Jakob’s Law states, “Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site or application to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.” Rather than reinventing the wheel, conform to web standards to produce a seamless user experience with a short learning curve.
- Seek balance between form and function – Visually appealing design tends to outperform merely practical design. An aesthetically pleasing design elicits a favorable reaction in users, leading them to assume that the UI functions better and quicker than its unattractive equivalent. However, remember to keep it minimalistic and avoid too much decoration.
- Consistency is king – Visually and functionally consistent UIs are easier to learn and utilize more quickly. In addition, their development and maintenance are expedited. A design system, for instance, is an excellent technique to assure high consistency in application design. Pay close attention to the color scheme, typography variations, sizing, spacing, and navigation flows.
- Accelerators, guidance, and customization – Consider the users' varying levels of expertise while developing your application. For experienced users, use accelerators like keyboard shortcuts and context menus. At the same time, offer guidance to new users through helper texts, onboarding tours, and in-app user manuals. Allowing users to customize the app to their preferences will help them become more efficient.
- Accessibility is for all – Enhance the usability and inclusivity of your business app for all users by adhering to the latest accessibility standards and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Pay attention to keyboard operability, having clear visuals, and easy-to-understand content. Other aspects to consider include; contrasts, font sizes, meaningful structure, focus, and hover styles.
- Don’t be afraid of clicks – The 3-click rule is based on the idea that the most important information should take no more than three clicks to access. However, there is no evidence to support this rule, and instead, it is recommended that designers focus on creating well-organized navigation and user flows. Minimizing the number of clicks can lead to overly cluttered views that are supercharged with controls.
Quick tips for UX testing
UX testing is essential for analyzing the user experience of your business application and ensuring that it is intuitive, user-friendly, and fulfills the requirements and expectations of its target audience.
By conducting UX testing, you can identify and address any pain points, confusion, or friction users may encounter when using the application. UX testing can also help identify potential technical issues, security risks, and other functionality issues that can impact user experience.
- Share your design – Show someone your design and see if they can grasp it without assistance or in-depth explanation. A 1:1 presentation may help you avoid group bias.
- Conduct user testing – Write a brief scenario and allow a non-team member to navigate the process in a Figma or InVision prototype. This might assist you in determining if the UI is simple to use and comprehend and what may need to be improved.
- Use anonymous testing services – Gain user insights to clear assumptions. Online services such as UserBrain or maze.co can help reach non-specialized users to use your design prototype or app and provide feedback.
- 5-second test – Test for clarity and first impressions. Show your design mockup to someone for 5 seconds and then hide it. Ask them two questions:
- What was the design about?
- What was the main thing they recalled?
Additional tips for self-evaluating designs
If you don't have anyone to ask for input, there are still a few ways you can test the UI. Does the UI convey the following without requiring interaction?
- Can you tell which elements are interactive? Do clickable elements look clickable without hovering over them? Which navigation items are interactive, and which are static labels used for grouping?
- Can you tell where you are in the navigation hierarchy? Is there a breadcrumb, or does the main navigation clearly highlight where the current view is in the hierarchy?
- Is there an exit? Every workflow should allow the user to undo or cancel actions. Do you allow the user to exit without any issues? Such a case may, for example, occur if the user is unsure if clicking the home link will save or discard unsaved data in a form.
Once testing is done,
- Focus on a small number of important problems - Once you have discovered room for improvement, consider which issues have the biggest impact. Prioritization should be easy if you have defined the problem to solve at the beginning of the design cycle.
Improving the user experience of an application requires a combination of research, testing, and a commitment to making user-centered design decisions. Improving UX can be rewarding and challenging, from conducting user research to identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement to using prototyping and testing tools to refine your design iteratively.
However, by following these practical tips and putting the needs of your users first, you can create a product that not only looks great but also provides a seamless and a delightful experience for your users.
Take the next step
Feeling overwhelmed? Worry not; we’re here to help you forward.
Our design experts at Vaadin have completed over 200 successful design projects for companies operating in various industries. That is a considerable amount of experience all at your fingertips!
Download our UX white paper or book a design review to get started.