Every site wants to provide a quality user experience.
It’s increasingly important as brands with an online presence work to keep audience interest.
With digital audiences spreading their time across platforms, usability has become a commodity. We’re all trying to sell an experience, no matter who we try to reach or where they view us.
If you want your audience to have a positive, relevant, and memorable experience, meeting basic usability standards should be in your development plan.
Luckily, we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel.
What is UX Design?
User Experience (UX) design is part of the design process in building a website, app, or other piece of technology.
But, rather than focus on the look of a site or page, UX is more about the overall user experience. Is it easy to use? Is the navigation intuitive? Is information easily accessible? Does your design, tone, and voice match audience and goals?
True UX design success comes when you marry the desires of your audience with the stakeholders for your product. If you work for a big news organization, a number of people may weigh in on this. If you’re a blogger, you’re the stakeholder.
Either way, the process requires planning, organization, and trial and error. But, it doesn’t take magic. Most brands known for great experiences keep it simple (think: Google, Apple, etc.)
We spoke with David Noboa, senior UX designer with PR Newswire, about the basics of good design and some UX myths he wants to debunk right now.
Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about yourself, your experience, expertise, and interests.
Noboa: My background is in communication design and technology, and the majority of my work is in digital; I’d like to think my work improves the performance of products and communications. Prior to joining PR Newswire, my experience has been in the startup and Agency worlds, and I am lucky to have had the chance to work with some very talented people as well as receive some recognition for my work over the years.
As senior UX designer at PR Newswire, I support a variety of groups and products, so my day-to-day work is never the same; one day I can be working in wireframes and user flows, the next day on visual designs and user interfaces and the next day participating in user interviews and testing strategies — all supporting the business strategy and goals.
Your background is specifically in design for communications and technology. How is that different than other types of design work?
Noboa: Good design practices can be universal. In my case, the differentiating factors are the specific possibilities and limitations afforded by the digital landscape in which I work, as well as the multiple teams I interact with every day to achieve the design’s objectives through the production, evaluation and iteration cycles.
You mentioned that good design practices are universal. Can you elaborate?
Noboa: A good example of design principles being carried out across industries and mediums is how Dieter Rams design work for Braun inspired Jony Ive’s work for Apple, which in turn has influenced an entire industry. Paul Rand and the Vignellis are also inspirational examples of the timeless influence of design.
What are some common myths/things to avoid when it comes to UX design for communication?
Noboa: Here are a few that I have been thinking about recently:
We are often tempted to incorporate patterns and ideas from sites we use and admire, but we should be aware that this is not a foolproof way to improve your own site.
It is OK to keep an open mind and try adapting when approaching design challenges, but always keeping in mind your users and what you expect to accomplish.
Typically, when we settle on a design we have had some measure of validation, but the real measure of a successful experience is one that allows for constant iteration and improvements over extended periods of time, with the least amount of friction for your users.
UX Success is the product of constant iteration and evaluation.
While there is no doubt that the real estate above the fold holds significant value and provides a unique opportunity to focus attention and generate primary conversions, the reality is that people do scroll down, and in aggregate the bulk of interaction happens below the fold.
In mobile, constant scrolling is the normal behavior, which should inform how we design our experiences as the mobile traffic trend continues to rise.
What are some best practices to follow?
Noboa: In our industry, success is really a team effort. The best practices to follow are the ones that allow you (and your team) to achieve the business objectives in a way that always leaves open the door to improvement and innovation.
The best teams create uniform experiences that speak with a single voice. That can be very inspiring.
Resources can be very tight. How do you prioritize or weigh the items you need to address through the lens of design?
Noboa: The answer to this can vary depending on the team and product I am working on. As a UX designer, we often play a complimentary and advisory role for product rollout and evolution, and at other times we are called on to solve specific pain points brought to us from sales, onboarding, or any of the multiple teams we support. Regarding prioritization, in my experience decisions are typically informed by roadmap and revenue implications.
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Authors Sandra Azzollini and Anna Jasinski work at PR Newswire. Sandra is Vice President, Web and Audience Strategy, where she has managed the experiential needs of users for nearly 20 years. Anna is a manager in Audience Relations, where she counsels on content best practices to improve reader experiences.