UXcellence Exploring excellent user experience

Building Blocks to a Great Experience

In the rush to learn the latest tools and techniques of user experience design, it can be easy to overlook the basic foundations. Here are some important building blocks to keep in mind regardless of what you’re creating or how you’re making it.

  1. Care. A great deal. Sometimes this will be hard. Dig deep to find your own reasons and guard them closely.
  2. Make deliberate choices. Defend them. Know why you made them. Then be willing to admit when they no longer make sense. This is not hypocritical.
  3. When in doubt, bet on the basics. Be boring. (Boring also means dependable.)
  4. Get your work in front of others. Whether in a design or code review, a critique session, a usability session, or just pushing it out live, you won’t truly know what works until other people see it.
  5. In particular, watch people use your work in real situations. Listen to them. Don’t expect them to tell you what they really need, but strive to understand what their pains are.
  6. Learn everything you can, but accept that you can’t possibly learn it all. Learn broadly. Be honest when you don’t know the answer.
  7. Don’t ship features just because you can. Wait for the need to exist, for users to be clamoring for the feature.
  8. Take breaks. Do something different. Let things incubate. Hunker. Daydream. These are not wasted moments, but are a crucial time for your subconscious to process.
  9. Embrace your constraints. Add artificial constraints to see what ideas they spark.
  10. Be inclusive, accessible, and welcoming. Almost to a fault. When you fail, apologize sincerely, analyze what happened, and internalize the lesson. Helpful copy trumps witty copy every time.
  11. Be kind. When making a decision about UI, copy, code, or otherwise, ask “Is this kind to my user?” If it’s not, you better have a darn good reason if you do it anyway.

These are a start. No matter what technology you use. No matter what process, framework, or toolchain you use, adhering to these basic principles first and foremost will result in a better product every. Single. Time.

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