Friendly by Design: How User-Friendly Design Elevates Businesses to a League of Their Own
Design is more than what meets the eye. It has the power to influence, shape perceptions, and guide decision-making - for businesses, that’s pivotal. A thoughtfully designed digital product or service can resonate with users on a deeper level, establishing meaningful connections.
While good user experiences gently persuade the user to stay awhile longer, lackluster experiences may leave them with a lingering sense of dissonance. Afterall, what’s design to a user if it’s not user-friendly?
For businesses, customer (user) is the king
It goes without saying that prioritising customer needs and experiences is paramount to any business. Every touchpoint deserves the same level of consideration and refinement for the brand experience to come together as a whole. With an exceedingly disproportionate amount of user interactions with a brand now happening online, it’s not surprising that customers expect brands to never miss a beat when it comes to their digital journeys. So, how can businesses ensure that their digital presence truly reflects their commitment to fulfill their customers needs and expectations? It’s a good time to highlight user centricity and empowerment.
Let’s start with User Centred Design (UCD), an approach that prioritises understanding and meeting users’ needs, preferences, and goals. Rooted in a deep understanding of user behaviour and motivations, this process draws from valuable insights to create engaging experiences that keep the users’ intrigue alive. Empathy underpins the approach and largely guides the design decisions right from research and concept development to prototyping and testing. It allows designers to see potential problems and pain points from the users’ perspective, truly demonstrating that the brand values its customers and is genuinely interested in providing them with the best possible experience. As UCD emphasises early user feedback and iterative design, it also helps businesses identify and address issues right at the design stage rather than after the product launch. This not only saves costs but also avoids hiccups in the customer journey.
Designing a user experience (UX) that imparts a feeling of control and empowerment to users in their interactions with the brand can go a long way in fostering positive emotions. Enabling them to smoothly and compellingly explore the interface enhances their overall experience and reflects as an acknowledgement that their preferences are duly respected and acted upon. This positively shapes their understanding of the product, reaffirming that it is indeed designed for them. It’s important to make sure that the user, in no way, experiences a lack of cohesion or clarity while engaging with the design, as it could throw them off, negatively impacting their perception of the brand.
Intuitive user flows are key to reducing friction in the user journey. By eliminating unnecessary steps, distractions or obstacles that could impede users from having a smooth experience, intuitive user flows provide users with clear and logical pathways to navigate through or complete specific tasks. It anticipates potential user behaviours and takes into consideration questions like “What actions are the users likely to take?” and “What’s the most appropriate way to provide options and guidance?”. The solutions can be as simple as placing the most important actions in prominent positions.
We cannot talk about user-friendly design without touching upon accessibility. As a fundamental principle in design and technology, accessibility emphasises the importance of creating products and services that are usable and inclusive to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It’s important that accessibility is not seen merely as something that’s ticked off in the name of compliance but rather as a commitment to creating the digital world more equitable and compassionate. If one section of your target audience cannot access your website as easily as the others can, then there is a glaring gap that requires urgent attention.
Better Design, Better Business
The opportunity to create a great first impression should not be taken for granted, as it’s also an avenue for businesses to guide user expectations. Whereas seamless and enjoyable experiences create positive associations around the brand, unpleasant experiences have the opposite effect.
Considering the overwhelmingly competitive nature of markets today, customers are quick to move on to alternatives that work better for them, and therefore, businesses cannot count on second chances as much as they can on their ability to create top-notch experiences for their customers from the get-go. Better the user experience, better their understanding of the product, how it works and what to expect. This builds credibility and instils a sense of trust.
Besides, high-quality UX design will be more effective and evocative in conveying a brand’s story. You can think of it as an example of show, don’t tell. There lies immense scope for a brand to create interactive and engaging experiences for its users through great design. When users find it easy to navigate and interact with the platform, chances are that they will stay longer and explore further. Aren’t we all likely to remember and resonate with a brand more when we understand and relate to their narrative firsthand?
Memorable user experiences also help businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors. With innovative and distinctive interactions, users are more likely to recall and consider that brand when they are on the lookout for similar products or services. While good design helps increase user engagement, subsequently it also boosts conversion rates, as it materialises an intuitive and compelling user journey that guides individuals from initial interest to the desired action, making it more likely for users to take that final step and convert. Moreover, it could also translate to recommendations/referrals. According to Spiralytics, 72% of customers will tell six people about a good experience.
From a growth perspective, good design can make it easier to scale your business as you expand your user base or add new features. To ensure smoother transitions and fewer complications, establishing a solid UX foundation is critical. This also means that a user-friendly interface significantly reduces instances of user confusion and frustration, resulting in a decrease in customer support requests. It saves businesses costly errors, bugs, or design flaws that would need fixing in the future.
The coexistence of aesthetics and functionality
There’s no denying that the appearance of a design has a huge impact on the kind of response it elicits from the users. An aesthetically pleasing design can capture the attention and interest of users, persuading them to explore further. At the same time, the appearance of a design should be a reflection of its purpose and not merely for the sake of decoration- form follows function. That is to say, a design should be friendly, both in appearance and in function. Good design meets its user at the intersection of aesthetics, functionality, and emotional resonance. Sure, it takes work, but striking the right balance can be extremely rewarding for businesses as great user experiences reflect positively on the bottom line.