5 usability principles to improve user experience
Usability principles are needed to boost the user experience – put them into practice using Justinmind to create web and mobile app prototypes
In today’s digital society, we’re governed by technology, and the User is King. As our priorities shift and our lives grow ever more demanding, we expect a lot from intuitive usability. These days, your product needs to really stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, but what does that actually involve? Fancier features and a flashier interface? Well, not necessarily—successful design is about balance.
As a web designer, you want to make sure that the user can use your product, as well as enjoy the experience. They need to be able to understand what it is, and be able to use it effortlessly enough to come back again, and hopefully share their experience with prospective users. Prototyping done right can help to improve usability and contribute to a better overall user experience.
Let’s explore FIVE usability principles that can help improve the user experience of your website or mobile app through prototyping.
Usability principle 1: KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)
Simplify, simplify, simplify: this should be the primary goal of your web design process. Consider the importance of understanding why users visit the sites and apps that they do.
Users visit sites with a goal in mind, and are likely there despite the design. Your website or app should be something that your users not only need but want to use, without adding unnecessary bells and whistles.
The question to ask yourself is: does your product help site visitors to accomplish their goals? If an app is ever so slightly difficult to use, many users won’t even get as far as installing it. We’ve developed high expectations for speed, functionality, and design, and the pressure for web designers to meet and exceed those expectations is on.
Any UX designer worth their salt understands that good design is about the process, not just the product.
Pro tip: don’t allow the user to get distracted. Guide visitors through your website and app by making links and menus faster to scan.
Prototyping can facilitate your design process by making communicating your ideas easy, and if the tool is usable itself, all the better! Justinmind is a great tool in that sense.
Once you’re acquainted with it, you’ll find that the interface is user-friendly and set up logically. Logic = efficiency! You can customize the way you work by organizing your Justinmind User Interface with floating palettes and windows.
You’ll soon discover that the wireframes and prototypes you can build are actually ‘usable’ thanks to Justinmind’s high-fidelity features that allow you to simulate almost any property your final software, website or mobile app would have (clicking, data collecting, movement links, etc.).
Usability principle 2: Consistency is key
Customer loyalty is built with trust, and trust requires consistency. Consistency makes the world go round, and, of course, sites easier to use. From the point of view of the user, it removes uncertainty and builds trust.
For instance, they’re more likely to revisit your website if they can easily navigate it the first time round. You’re on the right track if the user doesn’t have to constantly learn new tricks as they move around.
They need to feel that once they learn to do something, they will be able to do it again and again. Building consistency into your brand relates to building relationships between the smaller, individual elements in your designs. For example, using consistent language and content can make your site or app appear simpler and more authoritative.
Without brand consistency, users will lose sight of the message you are trying to convey through your website or app.
Pro tip: predictability is more important than prettiness. Consider using a style guide to standardize content throughout your website or app so as not to swamp the user.
With Justinmind, reusing content with templates and creating masters will not only make creating your prototypes easier and quicker, but it can also provide a seamless user experience, since it allows you to design consistent web and mobile prototypes that your users and prospective users will enjoy navigating and interacting with.
Furthermore, you can create your own widget libraries to make your wireframes consistent within your brand. With Justinmind, you can import real data to populate the data masters (and by extension data grids and simulated queries) with records coming from an already existing data base. With Justinmind Enterprise, you can even centralize and share these assets across the organization.
Put important usability principles into practice with your interactive prototypes! Download Justinmind.
Usability principle 3: Be bright, be brief
Remove extra chatter and express your ideas, brand or product in the most concise and simple way possible. If you can limit your design process, without compromising its usefulness, you’re way ahead of the game.
When a new visitor approaches a design layout, the first thing they’ll try to do is scan the page and divide content into smaller, more digestible chunks. By being concise, you can maximize how the user reads, and a great way to achieve this is through simple and straightforward navigation. We have a strong recollection of location, which is why easy and memorable navigation is so important to usability.
Most visitors have an idea of what they are after, but few of them have an exact product or a brand in mind. Drop down menus in particular prompt the user to jump into the market they’re interested in browsing, and help them to pick and choose more specifically within each market category.
By encouraging efficient navigation, the user won’t feel overwhelmed. Likewise, using smart defaults or pre-filling form fields will limit repetitiveness and reduce the amount of work users have to do. The less work, the better.
Pro tip: make sure users can perform simple tasks in two minutes, or less. We get impatient when a task takes too much time. Measuring task performance can help you to understand user behavior better.
With Justinmind, you can simulate navigation from screen to screen by creating links between pages: as easy as pie. In fact, you can go even further and simulate Breadcrumb Navigation, add drop down menus and select lists, design dynamic forms, tabs and accordions.
Usability principle 4: Entertain the user
People like to feel important, so make sure to give them something they can interact with. We are constantly interacting with web and mobile applications, and with most sites now responsive by default, prototyping is a necessity.
First impressions matter, and, like an app or website, a prototype’s fidelity has the most influence over its effectiveness. Prototyping can be a powerful way to communicate with the user, and convey a certain message and/or prompt the user to respond. If the user can interact with your ideas, they are more likely to understand them and give you real feedback.
Pro tip: empower your users! Your interface should speak to your user at all times and every single interaction could be a training opportunity. For instance, adding tooltips to your website is a great way to offer the user additional information and support.
As a high fidelity prototyping tool, Justinmind allows you to add rich interactions and design fully-functional and interactive prototypes to bring the user experience to life. You can simulate gestures and even add Parallax elements in your mobile wireframes to make them even more interactive. You can add tooltips to your prototypes.
Usability principles can be paired with some fundamental design philosophies for extra flavor in your UX design.
Usability principle 5: Test early, test often
User experience without the user is not really user experience. It may sound obvious, but it’s often brushed under the carpet. In the words of Jesse Hertzberg, Former COO at Squarespace: “focus unswervingly on the customer”, because you can’t possibly sell to your customers if you don’t know what they need or want.
We at Justinmind are of the opinion that the TETO principle, ‘Test Early Test Often‘, should be applied to every web design project. If you begin user testing at the prototyping phase, you’re more likely to find and fix problems earlier on in the design process: saving time and undoubtedly a few headaches along the way.
Put yourself in the user’s shoes: you wouldn’t take a new car home without taking it for a spin, or buy a new pair of jeans before making sure they fit just right—the fact is, you want to make sure that you’re getting what you want. After all, the User is King, so consider letting them test your site before letting your coders loose.
We believe a prototype is the best communication tool between users and the software development team. Prototyping your design gives you the opportunity to see where it works and doesn’t by testing, tweaking and adjusting as you go.
Pro tip: perform user testing at the prototyping stage to ensure that you get the design right the first time. Using real users to get real feedback.
By sharing your Justinmind prototype at the start of a project, colleagues and end users can be involved from the beginning, giving their feedback and validating it. To guarantee the best experience for all of your unique users, use Justinmind to test your pages with multiple devices, and integrate your prototypes with usability testing tools to get immediate user feedback.
When it comes to usability, respect is the currency of the realm. Learn how to respect your users and build a relationship with them through prototyping. By designing an accessible and usable website or app prototype with Justinmind, you’re on your way to building up that relationship and thus improving user experience.
Remember, if you prototype it right, they will come. But don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself!
Bonus usability principle: prototyping experiences in Justinmind
Justinmind is a powerful prototyping tool that can help you put these principles into action. When you prototype your designs from the outset and iterate as you go, you’ll end up creating a better end product. The result will be people will want to use your web or mobile app. Through using the above principles and applying them in Justinmind, you’ll be able to create a user experience that people will love but they won’t know why they love it. And that’s the best sort of experience you can offer your user.