Humans happily engaging with USEFUL, USEABLE, SATISFYING web applications: that is our end goal when we create clients’ websites. In order to build delightful web application for humans, we must first build a strong foundation of mutual understanding with clients regarding the human purpose of the application for their intended users. This is what we call user experience or UX design.
Personas are the Bedrock of UX Design
For each website or web application, we write personas. Personas are realistic representations of the key audience segments who will be visiting a website or web application. They are key to understanding the problem being solved for the client or the client’s intended users.
Aren’t Personas just user stories? Actually, user stories are what we write in response to the personas. User stories define how users will interact with the website to achieve their goals.
How do you create personas? Your personas are fictional users based on your perception of who will use your website or web application. Come up with a name for each one, assign them a job role, and define what they need and want from your website. This process can involve researching or interviewing the intended users, such as your existing customers. Taking the step of creating personas can support the later step of defining user stories.
User Experience Tips for Your Personas
- Be realistic about expectations of what a website or web application can and cannot solve on a human scale.
- When you write the User Stories be specific and create actionable stories for each identified persona.
- Define personas for both administrators and other identified end users, since their needs can vastly differ.
- Gather realistic requirements for your website or web application that solves those specific identified human problems. A good website developer who knows UX design will include Personas and User Stories in the Requirements.
- When thinking about these personas, ask yourself, “What does the defined user need from this application in order to do their job, complete their purpose, or achieve their goal?”
Building a Good UX Design: Keep the HUMAN in the Final Focus
It’s important to understand that humans understand information the way that they understand it, and resist changing how we engage with that information. Our job as web developers in creating friendly and useful UX design is to make sure that the web application does not impede the way a human user wants to interact while completing tasks.
Successful user adoption of a web application, tool or website depends upon human engagement. Thoughtful UX design is implemented at every step of the process alongside the development team’s data modeling and building process. Polycot Associates’ approach to user experience is not a layer on top of the application. Rather, it is an expression of the web application or site’s purpose to best meet the needs of the humans using it.
Testing and QA
We evaluate good User Experience for our websites by asking three questions:
- Is it USEFUL? Does it work to solve the identified problems?
- Is it USEABLE? Is it efficient? It may solve the problem, but does it do it BETTER than a human?
- Is it SATISFYING? Is it pleasant to work with? Frustrating? Boring?
"If you owned a brick-and-mortar store, you would worry about things like end cap displays, signage, aisle navigation, and sales support. Those things matter online, too, except they’re more difficult to observe and track without specialized tools." Neil Patel talking about website User Experience
Just as retail decor and displays are extremely subject to fashion and fad for informing what looks good, UX for web and software applications is even more volatile and rapidly changing. It’s best to continually evaluate and update the UX design of your website if you want to deliver a delightful user experience.
Many thanks to Robin Silberling, User Experience Architect and Senior UX Designer at Open Text for her delightful conversation, and to Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, for his widely-acknowledged expertise.