Another year has passed, and our list of wishes for Figma has grown. We have been excited to see some of our wishes from 2023 come to life, along with many other helpful features. Figma is great at listening to its users, so we are hopeful going into 2024, our wishlist will be fulfilled.
In today’s digital world, user engagement and satisfaction are key to the success of any application or website. One often overlooked but powerful tool in achieving these goals is the use of small, subtle animations and interactions.
Dark mode has gained popularity among users due to its aesthetic look and potential benefits for reducing eye strain for certain users. However, designing for dark mode requires careful consideration to ensure readability, accessibility, and overall positive user experience. In this article, we will explore essential factors to keep in mind when designing for dark mode and provide practical tips for creating user-friendly interfaces.
- Consider Accessibility: When designing for dark mode, accessibility should be one of the top priorities. Ensure that the contrast between text and background is sufficiently high, particularly for users with visual impairments. By using accessible color combinations and testing your design with color contrast checkers, you can guarantee that your content remains readable and legible for all users. The are several accessibility plugins available for Figma that make it easy to test the accessibility of your design as you go.
- Maintain Consistency: Consistency is vital to providing a seamless user experience. Regardless of the mode (light or dark), your application or website should maintain a consistent design. This allows users to easily switch between modes without confusion, creating a cohesive and intuitive interface.
- Test in Different Lighting Conditions: Dark mode appearances can vary on different devices and under various lighting conditions. To ensure optimal legibility and usability, testing your design in different environments is essential. By doing so, you can identify any potential issues and make necessary adjustments to enhance the user experience across all scenarios.
- Use Dark Grays, Not Blacks: Instead of using pure black (#000000) as the background color, consider using dark grays (#222222 or #333333). Pure black can be harsh on the eyes and create a high contrast that strains the user’s vision. Opting for dark grays provides a more comfortable viewing experience while still maintaining a visually appealing dark mode.
- Incorporate Accent Colors: To maintain visual hierarchy and guide user interaction, incorporate accent colors into your design. Highlight important elements such as buttons, links, or interactive components with subtle yet distinct colors. This not only enhances the overall aesthetics but also improves usability by drawing attention to key areas.
- Diminish Brightness: Reducing the overall brightness of UI elements, including text, icons, and images, is crucial in dark mode design. By doing so, you can alleviate eye strain and create a more comfortable viewing experience. Be mindful of balancing the contrast between elements to ensure readability and avoid overly bright or harsh visuals.
- Consider Depth and Shadows: Utilize shadows, gradients, and depth effects to create a sense of separation and hierarchy between different UI elements. These visual cues add depth to your design, enhancing usability and creating a visually engaging experience for users in dark mode.
- User Preference: Respecting user preferences is paramount when designing for dark mode. Consider providing users with the option to choose their preferred mode (light or dark) within your application or website. Remember their chosen mode across sessions to provide a consistent and personalized experience.
- Test with Real Content: Designing in dark mode requires testing with real content to ensure readability, legibility, and overall aesthetic appeal. Different types of content, such as long paragraphs, headings, or data tables, may require specific adjustments. By incorporating real content during the design process, you can get to a better design interface and deliver an optimal user experience.
Conclusion: Designing for dark mode involves careful attention to accessibility, consistency, and user preferences. By considering these key factors and implementing best practices, you can create visually appealing, user-friendly interfaces that provide an excellent experience for users in dark mode. Remember to always test the usability of your designs with real users and iterate as necessary to achieve optimal readability, legibility, and aesthetic appeal.
The following post was written entirely by ChatGPT when we asked it to “Write a blog post on why Instagram has a bad user experience. “
Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, with over 1 billion monthly active users. However, despite its popularity, many users have complained about the platform’s poor user experience. In this post, we will explore some of the reasons why Instagram’s user experience is lacking and what the platform can do to improve it.
One of the biggest issues with Instagram’s user experience is the algorithm that determines which posts users see in their feeds. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes posts from accounts that users interact with frequently, rather than displaying them in chronological order. This can lead to users missing out on content from accounts that they don’t frequently engage with, but would still like to see. Additionally, the algorithm can also lead to users seeing irrelevant or low-quality content, which can be frustrating.
Another issue with Instagram’s user experience is the way it handles notifications. The platform sends notifications for all types of interactions, such as likes, comments, and direct messages, which can quickly become overwhelming for users. Additionally, Instagram’s notification settings are not as customizable as other social media platforms, making it difficult for users to control which notifications they receive.
Instagram’s Explore page, which is supposed to help users discover new content and accounts, can also be a source of frustration. The page is often filled with irrelevant content, and users have complained that it’s difficult to find content that they’re actually interested in.
Lastly, Instagram’s Direct Messaging feature can also be a source of user frustration. The feature is cluttered, and the user interface is not very intuitive. Additionally, Instagram’s DM feature does not have end-to-end encryption, which can be a concern for users who value their privacy.
In conclusion, Instagram’s user experience has a lot of room for improvement. By addressing the issues with its algorithm, notifications, Explore page, and Direct Messaging feature, the platform could provide a better experience for its users. Additionally, providing more customization options and security features would also be beneficial for users.
Note: The above post is based on the user complaints about Instagram, but it is worth noting that Instagram is always working on improving its platform and user experience, it’s just a matter of time that these issues are addressed.
Here is our wish list of things we hope to see from Figma in 2023.
This is usually the time of year when we start seeing lists that attempt to predict what User Experience (UX) design trends to expect in the coming year. However, we thought it would be more useful to call attention to the trends we hope will end. It turns out, there are so many that we could probably make this post into a series (and maybe we will) but, for now, here are the ones our team came up during one of our morning stand-ups.
These trends are in no particular order, and they are a mix of both software and website trends. And, you’ll also notice that most of them have nothing to do with User Interface (UI) Design — yet all of them impact the User Experience.
Not Involving UX During UAT
User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is typically the final stage of the software development lifecycle that occurs before a product release is deployed into production. Oddly enough, even though the word “User” is in the name, this testing method rarely involves actual end-users. More often, it involves the client and/or members of the product team that test and accept the software product as if they are the end-users. This needs to end.
It’s probably an exercise in futility to convince product teams to involve real end-users in UAT but, at the very least, they should involve members of the UX Team because they are the ones that designed the UX. When you hire an architect to design your house, the architect will make site visits during construction to make sure the house is being built they way they design it. The same goes with software. You involve UX during UAT because they are far more likely to catch flaws and issues related to their design than anyone else.
Too often, the UX Team is only involved in the beginning of the project and then a hand-off of their designs and (maybe) front-end assets are given to the development team — at which point the UX Team’s job is done. That is, until the product is released to actual end-users and the UX Team is brought back in to fix or enhance whatever issues are found by the users. A lot of times, the flaws found by users are not major usability flaws (because those would have been identified and resolved during usability testing, right?) — but they are typically things that would have been easily caught by the UX Team if they had been involved during UAT. Some of the most common UX issues we find during UAT (when we’re involved) include:
- Incorrect use of CSS classes
- Incorrect use of UI elements or components
- Incorrect use of colors
- Incorrect use of fonts
- Incorrect responsive breakpoint layouts
- Incorrect wording in messages
- Display/rendering issues
- Missing progress indicators
- Missing transitions or animations
- Missing table listing features
You ever visit a website to read an article and all of a sudden a video at the top or in the sidebar starts automatically playing? And, if you have your volume up, you may also be startled by the loud audio. Yeah, that needs to end. We realize there are browser settings to prevent videos from automatically playing but users shouldn’t have to do that. Videos should only play when the user chooses to play them.
In addition, we’re seeing a trend where these auto-playing videos often have very little to do with the actual article content. So now the site is not only interrupting the user from reading their content, they are doing so with a video that isn’t even related to the article content.
For example, in this Fox Business article, the video portion at the top automatically starts playing an ad (unless your browser preferences are set to prevent it) and the article headline reads “‘World’s most expensive’ ugly Christmas sweater selling for nearly $40K” but the video is about “US inflation”.
This needs to end.
Sometimes you just want to skim the text of an article to get the gist or you are in a place where you are unable to watch and listen to a video but you can’t do this if the article page contains nothing but a video. This needs to end.
At the very least, a video should always contain a transcription of the words used in the videos. In this example of an article about “Instagram head testifies before Congress on app’s impact on kids“, it would have been nice to give the users the option of skimming parts of the transcript if they wanted to learn more about what the Instagram CEO said to Congress.
Sure, there may be times when a simple little blurb about the contents of a video is all you need, such as this video about a woman leading police on crazy car chase across Florida golf course – but more often a text transcript or written text describing the video would also be handy.
We know how a lot of magazine and newspaper websites are hurting and need to generate revenue to survive but suddenly blocking your loyal readers from accessing your content can’t be the answer. We’ve spoken to several people about this trend and everyone has stopped visiting the websites they used to frequent once they started to require subscriptions.
The most valuable thing a website can do is build a loyal base of repeat visitors. So, to suddenly block those same visitors from reading your content is like hiring a bouncer to stand outside your place of business so they can stop loyal customers from entering. Keep in mind, these websites already fill every pixel of available screen real estate with ad banners, video ads, pop-ups, and they track your every movement, download cookies to your device, and sell your activity to advertisers. In other words, the loyal website visitors are already paying a price to read a website’s content (whether they know it or not). So these websites need to figure out a better model that rewards their loyal readers and puts an end to these traffic killing subscription-only articles.
If websites insist on having a subscription, perhaps they need to consider including an added incentive for buying a paid subscription, such as having an “Ad-Free Experience”. This would be similar to what YouTube does with its YouTube Premium subscription. If you want to experience the website without a subscription, you pay with ads and your data. If you don’t want to see ads or have your data used, pay for a premium subscription.
We’re not sure if an “Ad-Free Premium Subscription” model is the answer – but we can’t think of a worse user experience than one that blocks your users from having any experience at all.
Enormous Memory and CPU Hog Websites
If you go to a website and it immediately kicks on your CPU fans and brings your laptop to a crawl, the site just might be an enormous memory and CPU hog. We don’t mean to pick on RollingStone.com but take a look at the 354 MB JS heap the site requires and, if that’s not bad enough, the site also utilizes over 94% of your CPU. This is completely unacceptable.
When we ran the GTMetrix Lighthouse tool on RollingStone.com, it literally errored out before the site could even load.
Lighthouse’s explanation for the error is that:
“The page took too long to load (No CPU idle period)
This usually happens because your page is repeatedly doing something and constantly utilizing the CPU.
Lighthouse requires a period of CPU idle, meaning we must observe a brief period of no CPU activity. This is required for a page to be considered “Fully Loaded” or finished loading.
You want to make a poor user experience, crash your user’s computers or make them come to a crawl when they visit your website.
This has to end.
Mobile Designs Used On Desktops
We don’t know if this is a purposeful design decision or a sign of laziness but too many websites are starting to display mobile-friendly designs to their desktop users, which negatively impacts the user experience. These websites take the whole idea of a mobile-first approach a few steps too far. While hamburger menus may be a good solution for small screens, why would you purposefully hide your website’s primary navigation and make your users work to navigate your website? In the example below, the site not only hides the main navigation menu in a hamburger menu but it also hides the full name of the company behind the icon. Sure, minimalist web design has its place and can be effective but requiring users to work extra hard to use your website has to end.
We’ve all run into these user-hating roadblocks where you’re trying to get something done online and all-of-a-sudden you’re asked to somehow figure out what a CAPTCHA prompt is asking you to do. Hopefully, you pass the test and move on to complete what you were trying to do. However, if you get the dreaded “Please try again.” message, you run the risk of acting out online rage on your device and start screaming profanities at the website you are using.
We get the need to prevent unwanted bots from inundating websites with false form submissions but why would a business place this burden on its users? That’s having a customer come to your place of business and then making them solve The Da Vinci Code before they can start doing business with you. It’s insane and it needs to end.
Not Involving Users Because You Are A User
We wrote a blog post about this one called “3 Reasons Why You Should Never Design Software As If You Are The User“. The topic for the post was born from a few clients that asked us to design their software but they didn’t think we needed to involve their users in the process because they told us “I’m a user – so if I like it and I can use it, my users will too”. While it may be true that you represent the typical user of your own product, there are at least three reasons why you should never exclude your actual users in the design process.
- You are too close to your own product
- You don’t know what you don’t know
- Your users will thank you
This needs to end.
UI Text Written For (and by) Developers Instead of Users
How many times have you used a software product or website and were scolded by rude, accusatory bold error messages, such as “Error 403 – Forbidden“! This needs to end.
Perhaps a nicer way to inform your valuable users that the page they were trying to access isn’t available to them would be something like this instead: “Oops! We are unable to give you access to this page or document. Please contact support at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.” A message like this does not scold or shout at the user and the tone of the text even places the blame on itself rather than the user while also providing the user with a way to get help if it is needed.”
Also, why does the words “HTTP Error 403” need to be biggest words on the screen? Not only is the website yelling at its user, it’s also confusing them with some meaningless error code. If these codes are needed for some technical debugging purpose, why not display it as the smallest text near the bottom of the page?
In addition, far too many message pop-ups contain verbose and confusing text that force the user to stop, read and attempt to figure out what their next action should be.
Sorry software developers – but it’s really not your fault. In fact, all the developers on our staff love it when our UX staff provides them with the exact text to be used in error messages and content throughout the UI because they’d rather be coding instead of copy writing.
Out of Context “Allow” Popups
How many times have you downloaded a mobile app to your phone and the first time you open it, you get bombarded with a series of “Allow” popups to things like your Camera app, Contacts, Microphone, etc. — even though you haven’t even used any part of the app that may or may not need access to those parts of your phone. This needs to end.
Rather than bombard your users before they even use your app, app makers should consider prompting these “Allow” popups only when the user needs to use a feature of the app that needs access to a part of the phone. For example, we designed an insurance app that enabled customers to upload photos of their damaged car when submitting a claim. So rather than prompt the user as soon as they launch the app, we prompted the user only when they needed to upload a photo from the photo app. This way the user has a better understanding of why they are being asked and are therefore more likely to “Allow” access to that part of their phone.
Got some more UX Trends that you’d like to end? Tweet us: @TheUXTeam
The Amazon Fire TV user experience is a classic example of where the Visual UX is clearly not centered on the user. We make the Visual UX distinction because the Voice UX is actually pretty darn good while the Visual UX (or what you see and interact with on your TV screen) focuses far more on promoting things than on what users may actually find useful. In this blog post, we will dissect the Amazon Fire TV Visual UX and recommend ways that we would make it better.
Current Home Screen Design
The current Home screen is segmented into the following main sections:
- Hero Promotion
This area is nothing more than an enormous billboard carousel for promoting new or popular releases from various streaming services.
This is where you can change “Who’s watching” to someone else. One seemingly useful feature that Fire TV recently introduced is different profiles for different people that may be watching TV. The feature does enable each unique profile to customize certain options – but the options are very limited. Our hope is that this future releases will include features that most users would expect when selecting a profile.
- Main Menu
This is where you can navigate to different sections of the interface, such as Home, Find, Live, Library. The center of the screen seems to be an odd location for a main menu but what makes it worse is that its size and lack of color make it barely visible – yet, it may be one of the more useful sections on the screen.
- My Apps
This is a customizable list of some of the apps you have installed along with an ellipses icon on the end that links to a screen containing all your installed apps and a feature to customize the order of apps.
This is where you can access various settings (as you would expect).
- More Promos
This section contains a long list of other various movies and TV series. The problem is that there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to why those specific promos are there or what even determined the order that they are displayed.
How We’d Make It Better
Better Visual Hierarchy
We totally understand how the business needs to push revenue-generating promotions but this design takes it way too far. A great design takes into consideration the overall visual hierarchy of elements on the screen and assigns a visual weight to each element that should inform the user of what is very important, somewhat important, or not really important. In the graphic below on the left, you can see how the dark grey “PROMOS” rectangles in the current layout carries an enormous amount of visual weight while the small light grey “USEFUL STUFF” rectangle carries very little weight at all. We would strike a more appropriate balance between usefulness and revenue-generating promotions because if you don’t have a useful product, you won’t have users to promote things to.
Personalized Home Screen
Since the user selected their own profile before getting to the Home screen, the user’s expectation is likely to be that the Home screen is really a personalized “My Home” screen. Given this expectation, two features that would make the Home screen a lot more useful are:
- Last Watched
Often times when a user turns the TV on, they want to return to the series they were just binge-watching. Right now, there is nothing on the Home screen that makes it easy for the user to return to what they “Last Watched”. Each individual streaming service typically provides a “Keep Watching” feature once the user launches the service – so it should be possible to surface whatever show or movie the user last watched from any streaming service onto the main Fire TV Home screen. If the user finished the series or movie they last watched, then this area could be used for promotion.
- My Watch List
One of the most useful features within each streaming service is the ability to add shows and movies to a Watch List so that you can easily find things you may want to watch in the future. Since this feature already exists in each streaming service, it would be handy if each show and movie on their Watch Lists could be displayed on the main Home screen. This would enable the user to jump directly into a show from the Home screen without having to first select (and remember!) the streaming service that show or movie is on.
As we mentioned above, the promotional section at the very bottom of the screen appears to have no rhyme or reason as to why those specific promos are there or what even determined the order that they are displayed. Therefore, it would be very helpful if they categorized the promos with different label names such as “New Releases”, “Trending”, “You May Also Like”, etc. This simple labeling of the promos may actual entice the users to explore the bottom section a lot more rather than view it as just a bunch of unorganized clutter.
The mockup below represents a starting point for a design that we would want to test with real users and then make refinements based on the results of the tests. Overall, you will see the above referenced recommendations implemented in the redesign, such as:
- The main menu is moved to the top, the text is more visible, and we’ve clearly marked what screen you are on with a bright yellow underline.
- The enormous billboard carousel is replaced with a “Last Watched” feature that displays and highlights what the user last watched so that they can quickly return to it.
- A “My Watch List” section has been added to the right side that surfaces selection for each streaming services Watch List (or equivalent) and they are ordered by last activity – meaning, either last watched or last added, whichever is more recent.
- The promotional section at the bottom is now organized into labeled sections to help entice the user to explore each section.
These recommendation only scratch the surface for what could be done to make the Amazon Fire TV UX better. In fact, this is only the Home screen! However, we think these changes would have a dramatic impact on creating a much more positive user experience.
We’ve all been there. We open a screen in our web browser to refinance our home, get an insurance quote, file our taxes, or anything else and the form is overwhelmingly long. We take a deep breath, sigh and trudge forward. In our heads though, we’re cursing the screen in front of us with thoughts like “I don’t f#@kin’ have time for this?!” or “This s#%t is going to take forever!”. Clearly, none of these are thoughts you should ever want your users to have.
Sometimes the data that needs to be collected in all those form fields is truly necessary – but that doesn’t mean the user experience should suffer. Luckily, there are several different things you should consider to make long online web forms suck less.
Visually Segment Sections
When a screen is just one enormous form filled with tons of form fields, users can feel overwhelmed before they even begin. One way to help alleviate this initial negative reaction, is to visually segment the screen into smaller, logical groupings. This enables users to process the screen easier in their minds and quickly get the gist of what they’re going to need to do before they begin. Part of what overwhelms users is a feeling that they may not be able to complete the form once they begin. If your users can quickly understand what they’ve being asked to do, it will build their confidence and help make them think “I got this.”
Compare the screen mockups below. Even though the screen on the right is taller/longer, it appears more manageable because you quickly get the gist of what you’ll need to do to complete the form. In fact, the card headings alone can put the user at ease because they provide context for what type of information is needed in each section, which can help make a user think “Oh, I know all this info, this should be easy.” as opposed to “Oh boy, what are they asking me for now!”.
Dynamically Displayed Fields
Often times, a lengthy form will contain “parent” and “child” fields whereby certain “child” fields only need to be displayed if the “parent” field is completed a certain way. If this is the case with your form, consider developing the form so that it dynamically displays the “child” field if/when the “parent” field is completed. One of the simplest examples is a “Yes/No” checkbox. If the user clicks the “Yes” checkbox, only then should you display the “If yes,…” child fields associated with that parent checkbox. More complex examples may include developing logic whereby a combination of different answers drive the display of certain additional fields. Either way, by eliminating the initial display of the child fields, you greatly reduce the overall volume of fields and noise on the screen.
If certain fields in your form are only needed in certain cases, consider moving those fields into a collapsed accordion that can be expanded only if/when the users needs to complete those fields. By moving those fields into a collapsed accordion, you greatly reduce the initial clutter of the screen and make the form appear easier and faster to complete.
Modal and Fly-In Windows
Often times, a large form may contain form fields that are only needed when the user needs to add a new item or record to the form. Other times, there may be a need to display detailed data about something in a form. In these cases, it may make sense to implement modal popups or fly-in windows that are displayed only when the user takes an action. For example, if the user needs to add vehicle information to a form, consider displaying the vehicle information fields in a modal or fly-in rather than displaying all of the vehicle fields in the main form. In addition, the main form screen may contain a table listing of vehicles but only certain column headers are needed to help distinguish one vehicle from another while all other details can be displayed in the modal or fly-in.
Forms that contain a series of questions requiring a “Yes” or “No” answer don’t always need to be displayed as individual questions with their own “Yes” or “No” checkboxes. Instead, consider whether the question section can be consolidated into a single question with a single “Yes” or “No” checkbox or toggle. For example: “Are any of the following questions true?” This enables the user to quickly scan the questions and take a single action to answer all of them.
Step-by-step wizards may seem like an old school method to break up a lengthy form field but they can still be an effective way to segment large chunks of related fields and create a positive sense of progress as the user moves through each step of the wizard. In addition, a good wizard will display the number of steps to inform the user of not only how many steps they will need to complete but also which step they are currently on and steps they’ve already completed. A huge factor in creating a positive user experience is to give the user a sense that they are making progress towards the finish line.
Making long forms suck less is often about making a lot of micro design decisions and optimizations that add up to a much better user experience. So put the time in to “trim the fat” on your forms so that the result is a positive user experience — rather than a verbally abusive experience.
Microsoft Outlook is easily one of the most used software products by businesses — yet it is also one of the most flawed products on the market. The latest version of Outlook for Mac attempts to make a big leap forward with its updated User Experience and we will say that it appears to be heading in the right direction. However, there are several obvious flaws that we’ve pointed out below that can and should be addressed.
Hover Icons on Messages
Each message listed in the Inbox displays action icons (delete, archive, flag, or pin) that appear when the user hovers over the message. These icons not only take up a lot of valuable screen real estate but they can (and often are) accidentally clicked when the user is attempting to simply open the email message. In addition, the attachment clip icon and the reply arrow icons appear to be clickable but they are not.
- Since opening and reading the email messages is the primary user action, these icons really represent secondary or even tertiary actions. Based on this, we would place all the icons into an ellipsis menu on the far right of the message rows (see screenshot on the right). This will:
- Make better use of valuable screen real estate
- Remove the possibility of accidentally clicking an action button.
- Provide plenty of space to label each icon so the users know what each icon does.
Multi-selecting Email Messages
Currently, the only way to select multiple email messages in the inbox is to hold down the shift key as you click each message. The problem is, this requires all users to know about this key command “trick” and a good UX should not rely solely on the users knowing tricks or hidden shortcuts. Personally, I have to re-teach my own mother and brother this key command every time they ask me how they can select multiple items.
How we’d make it better:
Include checkboxes at the beginning of each email message (see screenshot below). This will be a much clearer way for users to know how to select multiple emails without needing to know the key command. Plus, Outlook already uses checkboxes in other places in its UI so there’s even less of a reason for not including them here.
Creating a New Event (Bug?)
When attempting to create a new event by double-clicking on a day from the Calendar screen, the Reminder pop-up displays before the user even finishes saving the new event. This appears to be a bug because it only seems to happen when trying to create a new event on the current day or certain future days within the current month.
Fix the bug so that the Reminder pop-up never displays before the new event is created.
Inconsistent Location of the Exact Same Buttons
This one doesn’t seem to make any sense and makes us wonder if different people worked on the different versions of the same screen. When you click a day on the Calender, you get the short-form modal window for creating a new event with the Discard and Save buttons located on the bottom right of the modal. When you expand open the modal to view the long-form version of the screen, the Discard and Save buttons are not only flopped but they are moved to the left side of the screen.
Here we see two different locations for the Send button. When creating a new message, the Send button is located in the top left of the screen. When creating a new Calendar Event with attendees, the Send button is located in the bottom left of the screen.
A big part of creating a great user experience is consistency throughout the application and there appears to be no good reason why these buttons display differently in the two different versions of the same screen.
How we’d make it better:
Make sure the same or similar buttons are placed consistently in the same location throughout the application.
We get this one a lot. A client wants us to design their software but they don’t think we need to involve their users in the process because they say “I’m a user – so if I like it and I can use it, my users will too”. While it may be true that you represent the typical user of your own product, there are at least three reasons why you should never exclude your actual users in the design process.
1. You are too close to your own product
Since it’s your product, you will not only have a built-in bias about “your baby” but you will also come with built-in knowledge of the product’s design and how it is used. It doesn’t matter if you find it easy to use your own product — it only matters that your users can and the only way to make sure your users can easily use your product is to involve them in the design process. Unlike you, the users you involve will likely have no prior knowledge of your product or how to use it, which is exactly what you want because it will mimic what will happen when you launch your product.
“Be careful not to fall prey to the ‘false-consensus effect’ — assuming your beliefs and behaviors align with the users.”
— Nielsen Norman Group
2. You don’t know what you don’t know
One of the main reasons for involving your actual end-users in the design process is to learn things that you may have never have thought of before. And, it is a much better time to learn these things during the design process than it is once you’ve launched your product. We’re not talking about learning what your users like — that’s a Focus Group. We’re talking about interviews, surveys, and (our favorite) user shadowing. The goal is to learn whatever you can about your users BEFORE you begin to design a product for them. Then, when you start designing, be sure to incorporate usability testing into your process so you can observe exactly how they use your product.
3. Your users will thank you
Every single time we design a software product for a client and we’re allowed to work with end-users during the design process, we always get such enthusiastic feedback and gratitude from the users. We often hear them say things like “I am just so thankful I was asked to help design a product that I will be using. I mean, it just makes so much sense.” Yes, it does.
The other benefit of involving your users in the design process is that they are likely to become your Product Evangelists. These people are proud the role they had in helping to design your product and they will promote it (free-of-charge) to anyone who will listen. We’ve also seen cases where users will choose to do business with a company just because they now felt more of a personal connection with that company. For example, we designed an insurance quoting system that is used by independent insurance agencies and because we involved agents in the redesign of the quoting system, the agents are choosing to sell policies with our client over other carriers simply because they have more of a personal connection with our client and the software they helped design.
At the end of the day, even though we design software for a living, we are often not the true end-users of the products we design, which is why we involve the users in our process — and so should you.