When the question about user experience, there are many factors which can affect user experience.
User experience may sound technical, but people would be pressing the wrong buttons more often without it.
It’s the unsung hero of product design—never perceptible to the average user but makes its presence known in the product it helped build.
From a sprawling online shop to the humble app, no creation would ever see the light of day without taking the user into account.
User experience evolves with every invention or concept. When the first principles about feng shui came some 6,000 years ago, people applied them in arranging furniture and objects inside a room.
Aside from improving the flow of chi, it also made navigating the space more convenient.
And as elbow room became a commodity in homes, furniture grew smaller to optimize it.
With that said, how would user experience change in this era?
Here are some factors that will most likely exert the most influence and affect user experience
User experience and ergonomics are two peas in a pod, nearly to the point of being twins.
Although concerned with designing furniture and hardware, ergonomics is also a factor in everything people interact with – including apps and websites.
It always prioritizes the end-user, even those suffering from impairments, urging designers to place themselves in their shoes.
Applying ergonomics to user experience boils down to two fundamentals: usefulness and usability.
Determining a product’s usefulness depends on a slew of complicated factors but usability hinges on five characteristics.
For this, the user must be able to:
- Accomplish a task on the first time using the product
- Complete tasks quickly after getting used to the product
- Remember how to do a task after not using the product for a while
- Correct mistakes of varying severity with ease using the product
- Feel satisfaction upon accomplishing a task using the product
2. Information Architecture
Information architecture is one of the most important factor which can affect user experience dangerously.
University of Michigan School of Information teacher Dan Klyn defines information architecture as integrating ontology, taxonomy, and choreography in the service of utility and delight.
In other words, it involves how people see, filter, and present information. Here’s a great post to read more about it.
Information architecture draws up the blueprint for a website, from the homepage to the sitemaps.
It relies on understanding the website’s users and the benefits they’ll enjoy from doing so.
Because the World Wide Web is a sprawling repository of information, a properly designed website should show details in a way that’s easy to read and comprehend.
This principle borrows ideas from other fields, namely cognitive psychology – another fundamental in user experience.
3. Cognitive Psychology
Understanding how people will use an app or website requires understanding how they’ll think as they do.
This factor varies from person to person and is impossible to change to suit the designer’s needs.
However, user experience can study how much information a person can learn – known as cognitive load – and apply those limitations to the overall design.
Some of the ways designers can minimize cognitive load include:
- Keeping the design simple by sticking to a few fonts as possible
- Designing objects that encourage recognition instead of recollection
- Knowing how to work a product by reflecting on the designer’s experience
- Incorporating familiar patterns in the overall design
- Allowing designs to be stored in a user’s short-term memory
In recent years, the role of content in user experience has evolved beyond a mere addition to overall product design.
Brilliant storytelling captivates consumers, so user experience must improve upon how a product delivers its content.
For content to effectively deliver, user experience must encourage a seamless flow among the four components: content, user goals, business goals, and interactions.
Experts call this mechanism the CUBI Experience Model, where:
- Content based on business goals results in attraction
- Content that achieves user goals results in reaction
- User goals that translate to interactions results in action
- Interactions that fulfill business goals results in transaction
Jeffrey Zeldman, a prominent writer for web standards, puts it best in a Tweet from 2008: “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”
While his take suggests that content should come first before anything else, it’s not necessarily the case.
Instead of ‘content first,’ product designers should uphold a ‘content always’ mindset, which considers content before, during, and after the design process.
5. User Feedback
Designers can think of how users will use a product and how they’ll feel while using it all day.
But only the users themselves can determine what really needs fixing or fine-tuning.
It’s for this reason that adequate user experience enables and encourages users to submit feedback about the product.
A reliable feedback mechanism allows designers to spend less time finding the problem and more time addressing it.
The less time the product spends under maintenance, the less time people need to wait before its usable again.
Anyone who has spent their fair share searching for bugs in the code knows that being pointed to the real issue is a boon.
Allowing users to comment or complain about a product is also a good way to put the customer at the heart of a business.
Studies show that businesses with this model – lending an ear to grievances and addressing them as best they can – earn 60% more than those who don’t focus on the customer.
7. The Internet
Forever changing, the Internet holds significant leverage over the way user experience works.
For example, Google’s search engine updates like Panda and Hummingbird have forced search engine optimization (SEO) practices to evolve to conform.
Gone are the days content would force itself ahead of search results through keyword stuffing and other practices.
Today, user experience must integrate quality content and tags into product design.
Product design must also work seamlessly in a host of devices, especially in mobile. Principles such as responsive web design and search engine analytics are the norm instead of the trend.
By no means this list is exhaustive; more factors will influence user experience ideas in the coming decades.
Time will either render some principles obsolete or change them to suit evolving needs.
Despite such changes, the importance of user experience will remain a constant.
Hopefully, by reading this article you have learned how or which factors actually affect user experience hardly.
In the end, only the user has the final say.