Many software companies focus on function over form. They put most of their research and energy into the software features without paying any attention to how user friendly the application is. Instead, they feel that reducing production costs and software cycles requires the UX focus to be cut out of the equation. While software can’t stand on its own without a solid design, it’s also worthless if the users are unable to figure out the software because the UX is unclear, frustrating, or otherwise problematic. Even worse, some companies assume that the developers can put together a design, instead of sending it over to their design team.
When they don’t see the sales that they expect, they blame everything before realizing that a subpar UX is the major issue. There are countless software developers out there, so unless the company has a stellar and completely original idea, chances are they’re in direct competition with at least one other company. It doesn’t matter how many stellar features they offer if they never get used because the UX has end users running away before hitting the buy button.
User centered development is a must for a software developer that’s looking to establish a solid foundation in their chosen market segment. It’s not enough to have better functionality than the competition. It has to come together with a cohesive UX that makes it simple for the end users to figure out which way is up.
What is User Experience?
User Experience has to come in at the beginning of the product’s life cycle, not tacked on near the end. The question is, what exactly is User Experience? UX design used to be lumped in with everything else that a software developer handled in their standard workload. It wasn’t until the past few years that it split off into its own design field, as companies began to realize that a great UX makes a big difference in the effectiveness of software.
UX is sometimes referred to as the design methodology behind the visuals. Graphic designers make an interface look pretty, but a UX centric design also focuses on the user accessibility and user friendliness. It encompasses a wide range of how a user interacts with the design, their feelings during the process, and keeping that all in perspective to make a great software experience.
One of the first things a software development team should do is establish what, when, where, why, and how the product is being used. This helps to shape the entire development process around the UX, instead of trying to shoehorn it in a software framework that doesn’t work well with it. Every aspect of the user is considered during this process, down to the psychological responses created by the software. This adds value to the software package overall.
How Does UX Benefit a Business?
There are thousands of applications launched per year, due to the massive growth in software, web, and mobile industries. The amount of competition in the market requires every company to take advantage of everything they can to get ahead and carve out a solid user-base for their product.
The typical user isn’t going through datasheets of hundreds of applications to figure out which one works for the best. They go off several factors, such as their first impressions, whether a software selection looks like it can meet their needs, and what their overall user experience is. Much of the decision making happens on a subconscious level, which is where UX design comes in.
Deliberating designing software with the UX in mind helps create a favorable first impression, even if this particular application isn’t as feature rich as a competitor’s offering. The UX works to meet user expectations from a product.
Some tangible benefits that result from UX design includes positive responses from the customers, higher sales, better conversion ratios, and increased web traffic. If the UX is for a website, some benefits include lower maintenance costs, better user feedback, established brand or industry authority, and better brand awareness.
The Five Planes for UX Design
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for UX design, but there are a few best practices that any project benefits from, regardless of its methodology. Discover the 5 steps to help business develop a workable UX centered application from the ground up in our Whitepaper “The Five Planes for UX Design”. Download it here!