What makes a great user experience?

Topic: How-to guides, User Experience

What springs to mind when you think about products with a great user experience?  Perhaps it’s specific products like your mobile phone, or perhaps it’s a piece of software like an app or website, or maybe it’s a particular brand like Apple or Google?
But what is it exactly about those experiences that makes them so good?  It looks good? It just works?  It’s simple?  It’s fun? All useful observations.  However, we know from experience that what makes one product good, such as being fun, may be frustrating and annoying to another.
In fact, it seems that the characteristics which make a great user experience will inevitably depend on the individual. However, all good experiences share some common principles:

  • Useful – Is it solving a real problem?  Or does it risk irritating the user with numerous useless notifications?
  • Usable – Is it easy to use?  Does it give the user the right information?  Does it help the user achieve the tasks they want to perform?
  • Desirable – Does it look good?  Does it appeal to the user?  Would the user recommend it to others?

While there are multiple ways of describing what makes a great user experience (UX), the important point to note is that it encompasses much more than how the product looks. It’s how a product meets the needs of the user in a relevant and meaningful way, it’s how it makes them feel, and it’s the entire process of acquiring, owning, and even troubleshooting the product.  

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We know from our own experience as consumers, that a good, or bad, user experience can make a huge difference to our willingness to buy a particular product.  This is why consumer brands invest so much time and effort into the UX of their products. In fact, it is so important that it could be the difference between their product thriving or failing. It is therefore equally important that any partners you work with, or applications that you send customers away to, are similarly well thought through, as these have the power to reflect – either positively or negatively – on your brand.
While the motivations for selecting a product in a business environment are usually to meet the needs of the business rather than that of the individual user, that doesn’t mean that business applications can ignore UX.  A good user experience is skill key, however there are additional challenges faced, which we will explore in our next blog post User Experience in Business Applications.
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