Remember when you were around 5 years old. The world pretty much revolved around your every need and preference, and your opinion was always right! Unfortunately, this type of “me, me, me” thinking doesn’t pan out in reality – and it certainly doesn’t pan out when it comes to user interface (UI) design.
We often put too much weight into our own likes and dislikes when it comes to user interfaces and experience than we probably should. During the design phase of a product if you routinely here the phrase ‘I like” or “I don’t like”, you should be very careful. These terms are red flag indicators that often lead a development project down the path of personal preference, steering it away from customer preference. Unless you are designing a product for yourself, steer clear of this type of language when you’re discussing the design of your product. It’s not what YOU like, it’s what resonates with your customers in driving them toward your desired outcome (usually a sale).
For any team involved in the design of your product, it’s important to have an understanding of what your end user wants in not just features and functionality, but tone, feel, experience and expectations. Are they looking for something more serious and confidence-inspiring or are they looking for something with a bit more whimsy? While a specific design style or treatment might not be within your personal aesthetic preference, it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s in-line with your customer’s expectations – and that can be a very hard thing to do.
Rather than simply designing to your own preferences, implement a process that is more iterative. Meaning, shorter, faster design cycles that allow you to involve the customer or would-be customer very early. If you don’t have customers create customer personas that you can use to make design decisions. Start simple with paper sketches or low-fidelity mockups. Put them in front of customers, measure their reactions. Make adjustments and tweaks until the response is in the right direction. Then move on to higher-fidelity mock ups, all the while measuring customer reactions to ensure the design stays on target.
At my company, Raster Media, we take a very strategic approach to design putting a very high priority on UX (user experience). When you put UX at the top of the design decision making pyramid with the end goal of making users happy, it makes it very easy to remove our personal bias from the equation. While we could build products all day that make us happy, it certainly wouldn’t service our clients or their customers very well.
The bottom line is if you want to design products that are effective in driving sales or leads or simply use in general. You must stay focused on your customer’s expectations and not your own. Designers that are able to set their ego aside and listen to the customer are the ones producing immense value through design – and happy customers equals good business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR| MICHAEL J. SMITH
Michael Smith has an arsenal of interactive design and user experience skills, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, and leads the charge for Raster Media, one of the most proficient interactive teams in the land. As a Silicon Valley transplant, Michael set out to build a software development firm unlike any other. Today, Michael oversees the operations and direction the of the business and remains active in the creative direction of UX and visual design at Raster Media. Follow Michael via Twitter @RasterMike Find Michael on Google