Whether you are practicing a user experience design strategy or not, the following list may be helpful in reflection over your current and future projects. It is a collection of common missed opportunities that I’ve seen within the GIS application development community:
1. Understand UX
User Experience Design isn’t just colors and text, but the factors that determine how a user will perform their tasks within your application.
Many companies in the past have made the mistake of thinking it was Ok if their website or application wasn’t particularly easy to use because they worked in a niche market. Well the truth is, times have changed. The increased popularity in mobile devices has made everyone a potential critique and it’s no longer acceptable to treat your customers poorly and deliver them a sloppy product. It’s a competitive world out there and other, more innovative players are looking for opportunities where other companies are dropping the ball by creating a second-rate experience. No matter what your role is, every interaction with your customer can pitch a better user experience goal. The fact is that smart companies are now putting user value at the core of their organization and it’s important to get with the times and implement a strategy.
Having an important feature buried deep in navigation, requiring multiple clicks to access something that could have been made available easier.
3. Appeasing The Business
Letting forms and technical requirements dictate your workflows rather than addressing those alongside user stories.
4. “Hand Holding”
Your applications should not require large help documents or heavy handed microcopy. A well thought out user experience should not require “hand holding”.
5. “Speaking To Users”
Making microcopy clear and simple to the user.
6. “Just Get It Done”
Tight budgets and deadlines causing a “just get it done” attitude and abandoned user centered design. Time restraints are unavoidable but should not be an excuse to abandon intelligent design decisions.
7. Design Crutch
Avoiding opportunity to customize an app out of convenience of Material/Flat Design Standards. Branding is important but can be overlooked when creating native applications or using frameworks.
8. Boring Content
Presenting content poorly can confuse and boar users. A page of text is underwhelming, but adding in some additional styling or custom icons and images can make it more consumable.
9. Agile Does Not Mean Indecisive
You should be creating personas and user stories at the start of a projects that should not be abandoned without reason. Any time a change is made, there should be consideration to WHY it would benefit the user.
10. You Are Not The Target User
Designing for yourself or your client instead of the user is most likely a mistake. Be sure to use personas and user stories to back up design decisions.
11. Test, test, test!
There is never enough testing in the wild. Usability testing is something that we all should do more of but never quite get round to doing it. When was the last time you tested your product with users? Surveys, focus groups and customer interviews are all useful in their own right but not a substitute for one-to-one observation. You’ll gain valuable insight that you may never have otherwise uncovered. Don’t assume that your product is easy to use and intuitive just because you think it is. You’re probably too familiar with it to be able to make that judgement. It’s time to start testing.
12. Document The “Why”
As pushback can come from clients and team members when it comes to planned functionality, documenting the why will defend the decision or allow a dialogue to be within context.
13. Building Everything
By trying to appeal to everyone and adding features left, right and center, you actually dilute your message and could end up with a complex, bloated product.
14. Standalone Applications
A bloated app is a bad app. Multiple focused applications will be more successful.
15. Ignoring Design Trends
So trends come and go but trying to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in sexy user interfaces will help you in creating a competitive product. Choosing the right design elements can make your application stand out and look modern. An outdated UI will not be trusted by many public users.
Popular Design Trends:
This ui is better avoided but can be acceptable in some scenarios.
Full screen navigation:
A popular trend is letting your hidden navigation go fullscreen when accessed. This even allows for content to be within the menu.
A button consisting of a light stroke, no fill, and slightly larger than traditional buttons.
This way of displaying content has grown in popularity and necessity due to the wide range of screen size and mobile uses. A move away from “search” to “presenting” specific data to a user based off of activity, location, and more.
Putting a sexy highres photo or video front and center is good for building excitement on a landing page.
Using tasteful animations can contribute to user feedback, such as a loading animation, or it can simply make a page less static, as doing subtle parallaxing during page scroll.
UI that layers elements on the z-axis with drop shadows and animations.
If you want to build a fancy site with animations, definitely opt for material design. There are some pros and cons.
UI with lack of skeuomorphism, with hard edges and flat shapes.
If you’re not interested in having any animations or motion graphics on your site, and are primarily interested in raw simplicity and usability, I’d definitely suggest you opt for flat design. There are some pros and cons.
I'm sure you have encountered many additional User Experience issues so please be sure to share them in the comments.