Companies that invest in design have a common theme; they perform better. According to the Design Management Institute's Design Value Index (DVI), companies who are design-centric with best practices in design management show a 211% return over the S&P 500.
Design that pays goes beyond nice colors and shapes. Design plays an important role in making an intuitive and engaging product. When it comes to making product decisions, user experience (UX) best practices are your north star. They will guide you to building outstanding products. UX best practices are not only valuable to your design team but your entire organization. They are a set of values that will shape your product and allow your team to make data-driven decisions.
While there is no one-size-fits-all design best practice to follow, there are several universal principles that can be mixed and matched to fit your product’s unique needs. Ultimately, it’s up to your team to define the best practices needed to meet your users’ expectations and shape their behaviors. But in our years of experience, we’ve found there to be five user experience best practices that have continuously guided our team to deliver high-value digital products.
Identify Your User’s Needs
The only way to design products that will truly engage your users is by getting to know them. Understand the context in which your product is used as well as needs and expectations. Make 1-on-1 sessions with real users a standard part of your development process. This will provide you with great insights that can then be translated into design solutions that solve your users' problems.
A product’s user experience is not the work of a designer or of an engineer in isolation. The best products are developed when multidisciplinary teams work hand in hand. Although every role has very specific tasks and responsibilities within a product team, it’s at the intersection of a variety of ideas where great products are built. The best combination we have seen is a team that includes designers, researchers, software engineers, product managers, as well as shareholders.
Smartphones changed the way people interact with digital products. With 69% of the world's population owning a smartphone, it is very likely that at one point or another your users will aim to access your application from a mobile device. Even if your product is currently used on a desktop most of the time, it's better to get ahead of your users' expectations and consider their mobile experience as early as possible. Mobile-First Design focuses on creating the best user experience by starting with the smallest screens. Following this approach will give you a competitive advantage down the road.
In the UX world, accessibility means designing products that can be used by everyone including those with special needs or impairments. Taking accessibility guidelines into consideration when designing the user experience of your product will result in a better experience for all users. There are different guidelines depending on the country and industry you're in. One of the most common is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Depending on the industry you are in, your product might require a certain level of accessibility by law. But even if your product doesn't, it's important to keep empathy with your users top of mind. Accessibility best practices are a great way to set your product apart from others like it, to provide purpose, and to impact the world around you for the better.
It’s important to measure your product’s user experience. The best way to do this is by aligning your UX metrics with the company’s business goals and KPI’s. UX efforts can be measured based on how users interact with the app (task completion rate) or for how long they remain a customer (conversation and retention). As a product team, it is important to define the metrics you are looking to improve. This will help you make data-driven decisions as your product grows.
A combination of strong user experience best practices will align your team towards a common goal. The return of investment for a homed-in user experience is a company that performs better, a team that moves faster and loyal users who stay longer.
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