Have you ever heard of UX and are curious to know what it is and how it works? User Experience often makes the difference between a product or service that works and one that doesn’t, so we would like to give it the prominence it deserves.
In the following lines we will try to explain with simple examples taken from the real world what the User Experience consists of 10 principles that could be like the 10 commandments of UX. And why not say it: that every team should follow when proposing a product or service.
If you want to know more about UX, here is an essential introductory guide to UX Research.
But… what is UX?
UX stands for User Experience. It is the experience that a person experiences with something, an object or anything that he or she manipulates or interacts with.
This “something” can be a digital product, such as a mobile app or a website, but also an object that we use every day, such as a carton or a toothbrush.
Sometimes the experiences of using them are rewarding, like when you start the car on a cold day and it starts on the first try; but sometimes they are not so rewarding, like those TV remote controls with 45 buttons that you only use four or five of them.
The 10 Commandments of UX
The mission of a UX expert is, therefore, to ensure that the user experience is the best possible. And, as a good science, their work is based on a series of principles that they must try to follow and that, moreover, are very easy to understand. Here are ten of the most important ones.
1. The best Usability is the one that goes unnoticed 👀
There are objects in our everyday life that we use without having to think: a tap, a broom, a jug… We are so used to them that we don’t have to make any effort to use them and this makes our brain relax. We are so used to them that we don’t have to make any effort to use them and this makes our brain relax.
Why does this happen? 🤔 Well, largely because their usability is already so refined. It is only when something doesn’t work as it should or we have a problem using them that we realise that there is room for improvement in their handling or design. And that is where a UX expert is needed.
2. The importance of good navigation ⛵
Have you ever felt disoriented inside Ikea? Well, something similar happens to us when browsing some websites where you feel more lost than an octopus in a garage.
The search engine does not find what you are looking for, the main page of the portal does not highlight the points that most interest us, there are no navigation shortcuts to reach your goal…
Designing a website or an app is a science that requires a previous study of the needs in order to express them in a way that is easy to use and locate. And always with a good grouping and categorization of themes.
3. Less is more
We all agree that the most important or most viewed page of a portal or app is the main page (also called home). At first glance, it would seem logical to place the most important content and the most used options there.
But, imagine what would happen if for the content creator everything was important and he wanted to fit everything there? We would have homepages with no clear content structure and almost certainly would overwhelm the user.
It is important to always strive for simplicity and clarity; the fewer options we have, the better the experience. In fact, it has been shown that when we are offered more than six options, complexity increases exponentially.
An everyday example of “less is more” can be seen with Chicote giving some very practical advice in this seafood restaurant:
4. Preventing user error
Let’s look at an example taken directly from the current situation we are experiencing with the pandemic. What problem do you think this poster here poses?
Indeed, although the sign is put up with the best of intentions, it is ambiguous, as one does not know whether the words “here yes” refer to the seat in front or the one behind.
Something as simple as adding an arrow would solve the problem and avoid any kind of doubt (and the lack of control in the hall).
And that is precisely another of the maxims that must be kept in mind when it comes to achieving a good UX: to prevent the user from making mistakes. And always with one goal in mind: to avoid frustration.
How many times have we filled in a form full of fields, and then when we click on the “Send” button, we get: “Error, there are fields that are incorrectly filled in or not filled in”.
Sometimes it doesn’t even tell you what those fields are, so you have to do trial and error until you find them. And if every time you press “Send” it deletes the fields (sound familiar?), imagine how much the user wants to use that website or app again.
5. Simple and natural interaction 👆
We’re sure you’ve come across a device like the one in the image below.
In this case it is a photo taken inside a hotel lift in a Spanish city. At first glance, it looks like just another button panel of a normal lift; however, if we look at it closely, we are unable to understand the arrangement of the buttons, as if they had been arranged by someone malicious to confuse us and get us confused.
We must avoid anything that deviates from logic and anything that does not follow the established canons, or we run the risk that our product will not be used correctly.
Or, worse, it will not be used at all. We must always maintain a simple and natural interacttion with our users, empathising with them as much as possible.
6. Speak the same language as the user 💬
The virtual world is also no stranger to situations like the above and it is not difficult to find messages or indications that, although you read them many times, you don’t quite know which option to choose or which decision to take in order to move forward.
We always have to ensure that we provide users with the right, fair and contextual information at all times. In our jargon, this is called UX Writing.
We can achieve this through Research and Tests that guarantee that we are really doing it that way. Nobody likes to be messed with and we have less and less patience. Let’s make life as easy as possible.
7. Striving for consistency
There are more and more devices and more and more ways for the same user to achieve his or her goal. The medium should not be the protagonist, it is the experience that has to be unique.
It is becoming more and more common to start shopping for a product on a laptop, then check the reviews and show the potential purchase to our partners on the mobile, and finally finish the order on the tablet on the sofa at home.
What would happen if design and usability were not uniform, regardless of the device we use? We can see this principle very well applied in well-known websites and apps, such as those of Zara, Spotify, Whatsapp…
8. Don’t make me think 🤯
Although it may sound like it, “Don’t make me think” is not the title of a new reality show. The phrase was made famous by Steve Krug, who titled his reference book “Don’t make me think” and it became a motto for the UX world.
Applied to usability, it is used to try to reduce the learning curve of using a new product or service to practically zero.
Applied to the graphic world, and more specifically to iconography, it means always trying to use icons that are easy to understand and, if possible, that are already sufficiently widespread and adopted by users.
What if a new icon is designed? Well, that is what happened back in the day with the famous hamburger menu, whose icon we now see everywhere and we already know that clicking on it will bring up a list of options.
But when it first came into use it was not so obvious and was often accompanied by the word MENU. As its use became more widespread, the word became redundant. And even its fame led to the appearance of a good number of similar icons, each one more original than the last.
9. Informing the user to make decisions 🚻
Another very graphic situation that I’m sure has happened to more than one of you: rainy day, you’re in a hurry, it takes you a while to find a cash machine. It takes forever. The person in front of you must think the cash machine is theirs because you think they’ll never leave.
When it finally goes, you enter your PIN, press “withdraw money”, specify the amount to withdraw and, suddenly, the cash machine makes a strange noise and you get a message that you reread two, three times, incredulous: “We don’t have any cash at the moment, please go to the nearest cash machine”.
This little anecdote illustrates very well another of the aspects to always keep in mind when designing an interface: we must be transparent with our users so that they know in advance if we are (or are not) going to meet their expectations.
If you don’t have money in the cash machine, let them know before they put their card in. If you are going to include shipping costs in a purchase, don’t wait until the user is at the last step of the process to tell them. That way you will only annoy your future customers and they may not come back…
10. Create memorable experiences 💕
Planning and designing a graphic interface does not have to be at odds with emotion. On the contrary, often the most valued interactions are those that make us feel good, such as the “likes” on social networks, the automatic opening of a door before passing through or something as insubstantial as blowing up the classic bubble wrap.
When designing a digital product, making the right use of colour, using certain types of photographs or placing the elements on screen in one way or another, can make the difference between an experience without further ado or one that makes us use it again. So let’s keep this in mind.
In addition to UX, there are other disciplines that you may have heard of, such as Customer Experience, Customer Experience, Service Design… Each one has its own particularities, but they are still extensions of User Experience.
In conclusion, all these points can be summed up by trying to get to know the end user as much as possible through different research techniques (interviews, surveys, focus groups, design thinkings, user tests…) to empathise and put ourselves in their shoes.
In this way we will minimise any frustration as much as possible to try to achieve a positive and memorable user experience.
Santander Global Tech is the global technology company, part of Santander’s Technology and Operations (T&O) division. With more than 2,000 employees and based in Madrid, we work to make Santander an open platform for financial services.
Are you a UX expert and want to join this great team? Check out the positions we have open here and Be Tech! with Santander 🙃