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Five Signs You’re Not Putting the User First

User experience (UX) is how you communicate with your users through your product. A powerful UX allows you to keep your userbase satisfied and to focus efforts on continuing to build more functionality into your existing platform. This helps to ensure that you’re not spending all your time dealing with usability problems or training issues. If you’re not putting your users first, you’re setting yourself up to build a product that just isn’t relevant to them. Here are five signs you’re not putting the user first.

Asking Questions Too Late

If you’re not surveying your users throughout the design and development process, then you’re wasting time and money working on something that may not solve the user’s problem. Additionally, if you’re not asking the user what they want to see next from your product, its next phase will be determined by ideas generated in an office. By doing this, you’re going off of feelings, instead of actionable data from the people that use your product every day.

Not Thinking About Accessibility

Accessibility is a big topic. The digital domain is a huge space and you want to be as inclusive as possible. Look at your application using a screen reader or try navigating your application just using a keyboard and foregoing a mouse. See what that experience is like. If you’re not using WAVE or other types of accessibility assessment technologies, it’s possible that you’re alienating part of your user base. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking many key accessibility functionalities.

Chasing Design Trends

Design is always growing and changing. You can’t look at a website from six or seven years ago and not see the influence of Bootstrap and nowadays you’re always seeing the influence of Material UI. These concepts both established common “look and feel” practices for their time. However, when a client comes to me and says, “here’s the next great design concept,” you really have to pause and consider what the effect is of that design on your product. If it’s been built in such a way that it can jump from design to design, that means we haven’t really considered what the product is saying to the customer (which means it’s probably not saying anything at all).

You’re Not Looking at a Range of Users

My current client’s user group ranges from tech savvy 20-somethings to 70-year olds who don’t want to spend any time in an application. Make sure that your personas cover a wide range of users and that you’re getting equal feedback from each group. There may be a persona who takes up the majority of your user group, however, it’s important to get a fair amount of feedback from personas that are in the edge cases because by not incorporating them, you could be making their user experience even more frustrating. Look at the whole person, not just the way they use your application. By looking at the whole person, you take into account their preferences, personalities and experiences.

You’ve Made an “Other” Bucket and You’re Using it

When working on your application’s functionality, part of the job is helping your users easily find what they need. If you’ve created an “other” category that continues to grow, that means your categories aren’t encompassing what the application does. For some clients we work with, their categorization is a reflection of the departments in their company, meaning everyone gets a different part of their website – a different bucket to put their content in. What happens with this approach, though, is that there’s all sorts of shared functionality that doesn’t have a home, so it ends up going into an “other” bucket.  Take the time to organize your functionality to help guide your user, not just in a way that’s most convenient for the company.

It’s good to have a foundational element of UX, but by considering these five tips, you can take your user experience to the next level. This will help move you and your product into the future.

About the Author:

Joe Dallacqua is a Senior Principal Consultant and has over 20 years of UX/design experience. He’s worked with Fortune 500 companies, startups and everything in between. Joe is passionate about using storytelling and UX design to solve complex problems.

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