We often hear of founders struggling with deciding on colours, fonts, and photographs to create the best look for their prototype. Many times, they will ask for different versions of the same screen, wanting to create the best experience for their users, but all the while struggling to find something that satisfies them. And as much as we empathise with their drive for perfection, there is a common misconception we need to correct.
Yes, it is important to have a prototype that looks good to showcase the value of your product. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Much of an app’s value isn’t visible, such as the research that’s been put in deciding the market niche, building the ideal user profile or creating the journey that gets them something valuable by using your app. The truth of the matter is user experience is more than your app’s looks. Your app’s good looks have to showcase well-thought-out functionality, and they have to do it in a way that resonates with your users. Now let’s get to the bottom of why that is so.
What is, actually, user experience?
The Nielson Norman Group defines user experience (UX) as encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products. Within mobile or web applications, the UX dictates how a user will use your product and how accurately they can understand its purpose. The focus of UX isn’t about what your app looks like, but about understanding the user’s needs and developing the invisible strategy that takes them from struggling with something they want to getting it. For the product owner, this translates into journey arcs that offer value and create monetisation models. For the end-user, it translates into an app they find at very the least – useful, at most – delightful, while getting the value they were promised.
Many times, digital app businesses fail because their purpose wasn’t clear enough, or the service wasn’t needed. Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, not enough research is done to validate an idea. Other times, we find that despite clear and effective research, startups lost in translation their main points of value because of poor user experience. If a user has a bad experience, they’re more likely to switch to a different product.
The secret weapon of good user experience
We’ve cleared up that good user experience is about creating value both for the user and the business developing the app. What many forget while working on their user experience is that it defines function, thus leave the copy as a second thought. In fact, good copy supports the user experience. It provides instructions, manages expectations, and offers solutions in case of errors.
Content is what facilitates the relationship between your app and the user. It’s where you get the chance to communicate the value of your app and the benefits your audience will reap from using it. In the onboarding process, the copy is key in making the user easily understand the available features and make them return for a second use, a third one, and so on. Some argue that the way content resonates with your users is just as important as the less visible user experience strategy and the very visible user interface.
Last, but not least, in an oversaturated app industry, good copy stands out if it gives your app a human voice that users are happy to interact with. In our highly digitalised world, finding a personality behind the smartphone screen delights any user.
The looks come after the experience
Once your app has a clear user experience supported by good copy, creating amazing looks for your app is like making the perfect topping for a mouthwatering cake. When you’re working with a designer to develop the visuals of your app, consider that:
- Colours, fonts and visual elements reflect a personality your audience resonates with. Even as a product owner, it’s important to take one step further than your first impressions when evaluating a design. Keep in mind that the app is not being designed for yourself, but for your users. If the designer makes a compelling case for a design decision that you are not convinced of, trust his expert opinion. At the very least, get more opinions from your target audience before saying no.
- Interaction is showcased as much as aesthetics. When it comes to digital apps, users like getting instant feedback on what they are doing. Whether filling out a form or tapping elements, make sure users get a visual feedback when interacting with your app at all times.
As a product owner, knowing the difference between “I like this” and “This works for my users” is what will allow you to create a valuable product in a fast industry. Keeping this mindset while working with designers, whether for user experience or visual interface, will help you build productive relationships with them and get the most out of their expertise.
Give yourself room to go with the best you can at any given moment, instead of striving for perfection. Remember to put your users first and your business will already be on the road to success.