User experience is an increasingly high priority for brands and organisations. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and persistent myths about UX. What are they, how can you refute them and perhaps most importantly: how can you, as a brand, do things differently – read: better –? This article will explain how you can do all of this.
Most brands tend to be big fans of UX, but accessibility? A lot less. And that’s even if they’re missing out on a lot of users because of an inaccessible website. This isn’t just disabled users and people with sight loss, but also people with temporary barriers like, for instance, sunlight on their screens.
Improving accessibility doesn't have to be difficult or expensive, especially if you incorporate it in the design and development phase. For example, you can use tools to check the colour contrast or add descriptions to photos using alt text. These small changes, simultaneously give you a shorter download time, better SEO, cross-browser compatibility and easy-to-manage content. Finally and perhaps most importantly, with an accessible website, you are always one step ahead of your less thoughtful competitors.
Are you familiar with the happy path? That is the optimal flow through your website, uninterrupted by errors or error messages. Unfortunately, it's inevitable that people will make mistakes, and at some point you will have to adjust the user experience. So UX is not so much about ensuring the 'happy path', but about making people happy in the 'unhappy path'. How can you do that? By giving clear instructions when an error occurs and immediately pointing users in the right direction. For example, show the text box where the error is located, and how it can be fixed. If you factor in the errors sufficiently, you may even be able to prevent them, which of course benefits the flow and the ease of use of your interface even more.
UX is not so much about providing the 'happy path', but about making people on the 'unhappy path' happy.
It is sometimes thought that UX is only about the accessibility of the interface, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even if the interface is digital, the user is always in a physical environment that influences their experience, so it is important to look at the bigger picture and consider all aspects of the interaction between the end user and the company, the service and the product. It's essential to consider the context, the process, the value to the business value and its ecological validity.
You can compare UX to buying a new car. The buyer doesn’t just look at the interface, they also look at the logo, the smell, the sound of the doors closing. This holistic approach takes the UX to a higher level.
How do most designers start building a website? With a dummy copy. For designers, the form is above the function, when in fact, the design should help the user to better understand the content. By working with a dummy copy, you can eventually have an attractive, but unrealistic and anything but user-friendly design with a strong implication that content comes second.
Realistic data and content is essential so you have to involve content specialists in the earliest stages of the design. A second solution is the so-called 'object oriented user experience', which divides content into content objects, calls to action and attributes that link to each other. Involve UX designers and discuss content length and size before you get started to make sure you have a content-first approach .
You've probably heard that every page should be reachable in three clicks. This is total nonsense. User testing has proved that people don't give up or get at all frustrated after three clicks. The new standard should be that it doesn't matter how many clicks are needed, as long as the user receives clear confirmation with each click that they are one step closer to their goal. A good interface always helps the user to decide where to go next. Long, descriptive links can play a part in preventing the user from getting lost. Or you can try using progressive disclosure to display increasingly sophisticated content that feels like progress. You can also help the user to reach their goal quickly with finder tools and search bars. Great alternatives to the 'three-click-rule', right?
With input from: Eddy Boeve, Tanja van der Heide, Vincent Mouton, Stephan Kleian, Sara Nilsson, Per Englund, Joost van Traa, Geert Bosmans, Emilie Lippens and Sebastian Sintorn.
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