How to crack the UX code

Any design challenge is happy to have many different and complete solutions. The key lies not in finding the “right” solution, but getting answers to the right questions.

Audun Støren

A solution for both the enterprise and the end user

The answers help you gradually develop a solution that both the company and the end user actually want — and are able to use.

Good UX Design is not about making everything perfect right away, but about moving slowly but surely towards a better product through dialogue with users. This is the core of good and intuitive user experience design (popularly abbreviated UX design after the English translation: user experience design).

Good user experience design is the absence of bad experiences

It's often easier to explain what good design is by telling stories about bad user experience design. Common to most people is that they often forget to take into account who the user is and what situation they find themselves in.

“The user of, for example, fast chargers used to have a preponderance of framfuse tech people who were early adopters of electric cars and who had a high understanding of systems. But that's not the case anymore. “Everyone” has an electric car today. Today, both the grandfather of 68, and the insecure teenager of 19 will be charging their electric car on a fast charger along the road. So who the user is has changed,” says Audun Støren, Senior UX Designer at Increo.

Audun defines a good user experience design as solving the problem you have, within the time you have, without changing your state of mind for the worse. How, then, does the design of the fast charger match with today's users?

“You end a meeting to pick up at the kindergarten across town. You have under half an hour. You're stressed, it's snowing and the car is running out of power. You swing in front of a fast charger you haven't used before. Both the clock and the power are running. Out of the car, up to the fast charger. You need to download an app, create a profile, fill in your contact information. And not to forget, enter the payment card that requires to know where the wallet is. Also, be sure not to spend too long (searching for your wallet, for example) as the payment solution cuts and you have to refresh the page and fill in all the information again.

This is a typical example of a lack of user understanding. Why couldn't you have paid completely touch free with a card or mobile phone, and put in the charging cable without any more hassle? Of course, there are users of fast chargers who love apps and memorize all their card information, and are never too late to pick up in kindergarten either. So for them, maybe today's solutions are completely intuitive, but then the user experience is designed for the needs of a very narrow range of today's fast charger users.

“Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.” -
Jakobs Law by Jakob Nielsen

A good user experience happens on intuition

Knowing what is intuitive to the user is a knowledge that one must actively work to acquire. It's hard for one designer to design something for someone with completely different associations than the designer himself. People have different preferences, and if you don't know the universe the user lives in, the likelihood of designing a completely frictionless experience for just that user is pretty small. For example, you need to know who your users are, what situation they find themselves in and what they are used to from before. All this information forms the basis for designing something that is carried out on autopilot.

Design is not only a special form of knowledge, it is a way of thinking. Design thinking (most commonly referred to as design thinking) is a design philosophy that deals with applying user insights to work out ideas, define potential solutions, perform prototyping and testing. Before going around the ring and jumping back and forth between phases to work out the best possible product, based on the user insights you have.

Learn more about design thinking — and why you should know it.

Nothing lives in a vacuum

“One of the most important things we do is create user journeys that describe situations that can be a bit extreme, just to understand that the system we're working on designing doesn't live in a vacuum.

“Our system can be the fourth thing the user does at the same time, so you have to remember to make things simple. Again when charging the car; there's nothing difficult about entering a bank card into an app if that's the only thing you do. Provided you have the bank card available. But when it's sleet, cold and you're going to pick up the kid in 10 minutes and the phone is wet on the screen and the card is at the bottom of the bag since basically you've gone over to Vipps. Then the design for the fast chargers is suddenly quite inaccessible to all of us with limited mental surplus.

All design principles are based on the desire to free the mental capacity of the user. Giving people the space to complete the task they have decided to do — without lavishing on them unnecessary actions or more information is important and difficult.

Do not redesign the wheel

When you are in a stressed situation you have limited mental surplus to doing complicated tasks in alien systems. You act more on intuition and make faster and less thoughtful decisions.

The industry-defining book Laws of UX — Using Psychology to Design Better Products & Services by Jon Yablonski is about the psychological aspect of design. The book has collected small concrete “laws” about the structure a final product must have in order to harmonize with how our brain perceives things around us. These laws, or principles serve as guidelines for how a product should be designed so that the user does not need to tap into the judgment ability to understand the product.

“In order to design systems that people in stressful situations will potentially use, the systems must be recognisable. You should recognize what you see and thus not have to think about what you are going to do — it should become an intuitive task. This principle works all the way down at the micro-text level. For example, what do you type on a button, do you type [delete] or [remove] on the button that is going to yank a document into the trash? Do you write [buy] or [move on] in the online store?

All these little things are what prevent the user from having to stop and consider the meaning of the design, but rather recognize it from before and thus get his task done smoothly, on intuition and autopilot.

“A good UX designer should not reinvent the wheel. You should simply have very good reasons to start with something completely different. If you do, you run the risk that people will not understand how to use your product. Then the intuitive ease of the user experience disappears and the user has to start taking active reviews in order to use your product,” concludes Audun, Senior UX Designer at Increo.

Cracking the UX code is about understanding the needs and frames of reference of your users, and the situation they're in, and then incrementally developing the solutions that both enterprise and end user actually want — and manage to use. In this way, you can create an experience in which the user does not have to think twice, a so-called intuitive design.

So what are the right questions to ask to find the references of your user? Unfortunately, there is no stone tablet here, but here are our top four questions to start with:

  • What situation are customers in when they use your product/website?
  • What other products and services do they use? (What are their references?)
  • What task are they really trying to solve? (Pick up in kindergarten?)
  • Can you make it easier for the user by taking something away?

What can we help you with?

Morten M Wikstrøm
Morten M Wikstrøm
CEO, Consulting
976 90 017
Sebastian Krohn
Sebastian Krohn
Agency Manager, Consulting
988 00 306

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