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5 most common design mistakes and how to avoid them!


Illustration: bydvsc

For a handful of years, we evolve the quality of design, and it’s functionality. For all innovations and improvements, we obliged to competition and the repeated cycle of mistake we’re doing, so by ignoring, we lose countless opportunities to learn and gain the knowledge. The foundation of design mistakes appears as a result of the process that differs from what we expect, and they play an essential part in our product transformation; that what makes us learn. Mistakes might occur due to non-compliance with high standards, wrong interpretation, or lousy analysis. Eventually, we have learned how to fix and avoid mistakes in the design.

Here is the list of the most typical mistakes when designing the product:

  • Not understand the importance of Usability
  • Failing to understand user needs
  • To design based on assumptions. Fail to test the design
  • Not contribute to trends
  • Afraid of data. Ignoring software automation

Not understand the importance of Usability

People do have the idea that the design is about how it looks; nevertheless, we try to ruin that stereotype to build a comprehensive perception for people to understand the opposite.

Architects design buildings both to be beautiful the functional, just like digital designers do.

We cannot rely only on an aesthetical part of the product, and we need to give significant importance to the mechanism that regulates its healthcare. For a field that accounts for the experience of the digital products and platforms that takes a massive part of everyone’s lives — there should be more a broader understanding of the need and usage. The knowledge and improvement come along with systematic engineering activities, and clear understanding and iterative investment in that field.

Based on a Nielsen Norman collected data from 863 design projects, usability costs were between 8% and 13% of the projects’ budget and analyzing data from 42 cases, they found out the usability increase is by 135% in total. And it was different depending on the metrics collected. And based on studies concluded that spending about 10% of a project’s budget on usability activities doubles Usability.

Data: NNgroup. Return on Investment for Usability

Another study from the Design Management Institute (DMI) showed that companies who put a core priority into a human-centred design see the 211% higher ROI than the S&P 500.

The Design Value Index Study shows ten year returns yielding 2.11 times (211%) that of the S&P 500.

The right usability investments give a positive conversion rate, save money, decrease bounce rates, improve NPS scores, reduce support requests, remove biases, and more. Nowadays, the recommendation would be to allocate 10% of the project budget on Usability. But in the future, the budget share allocated to Usability will increase significantly.

Failing to understand your user

Most people are trying to design on top of their ego to amuse their self-esteem and ambitions, some on pure intuition. The voice distraction in a head that tells what the design should look like, and as a result, we forget that we build the product for someone else. We should not impose our feeling on the design we produce.

Tim Cook said: “Most business models have focused on self interest instead of user experience”.

As a designer in the first place, we need to ensure that we understand the needs and desires of our customers, target users, and that align with the business goals of the product we’re building. The User-Centered design it’s a philosophy that defends and represents users desired both for conscious, rational thinking, and subconscious that triggers an emotional part. We build empathy over the users that use our product, and as a result, we receive their trust.

The Donald Norman, in his book “The Design of Everyday Things”, describes three parts of a system that we interact with:

  • The designer’s mental model of the system
  • The user’s mental model of the system
  • The system image (the system itself)
Image: Mental models in API design

The only way a designer can speak with a user is through the “system image” — the designer’s materialized, mental model. The user, most of the time, operates with a mental model that coming out if their head and guides their use of things. A conceptual model is more an instrument for a designer to teach the user to use a system.

The problem occurs because the designer does not talk directly with the user and use their mental model independently to create their own assumptions biases. The mismatch between mental models can lead to usability issues. User failed to accomplish the task due to errors occur when the designer unable to translate his idea of the system correctly to the user.

But you always have more than one option. You can take a lucky guess or analyze the user’s behaviour through the observations and various technics to provide meaningful and relevant experiences. Involve users in your design process. Make them your primary focus and get feedback continuously.

To design based on assumptions. Fail to test the design

The welfare of our product is highly dependent on the reflection that comes along with a user’s feedback we can get. We have to options to consider: to make unfounded assumptions, or you can look at user behaviour, habitual patterns and make a comparison that would give clear baseline guidance to answer on a question for their actions.

The overall product quality development can specify in Product Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Overall experience segments. They are strictly interrelated and supplement each other through five categories: brand experience, desirability, Usability and utility.

From Utility to Brand Experience.

The Utility is a bare minimum requirement for the product to create an acceptable product. Usability is what gives a user a consistent experience in terms of usage to perform tasks safely, effectively, and efficiently. Desirability is what identifies the attributes that set one product apart from others. Make the customer choose one brand in preference to another. Brand experience is a collective concept consolidation all aspect of good design and experiential marketing under one roof.

Each category contains correspondent methods to determine the quality of the system and receive the right answers. Working on each class would give you a comprehensive understanding of what, where and how to improve to make a reliable product and satisfy the customers.

Not to refute most of the assumptions at the beginning would cost the product significant consequences. You need to test your design with a user; otherwise, you could end up designing the opposite of what expected.

Not contribute to trends

We don’t need to forget that our digital consumer industry is a part of the manipulation businesses. We build products to persuade people and give them a false choice of necessity, which subsequently leads to create a behavioural trend of their preferences.

It’s essential to keep on top of user trends and always scouring new tendencies that dictate the user behaviour and regulate how users will respond to your design at one time or another. We need to predominantly understand the behaviour difference through the timeline of obstacles and circumstances humans go. Trends would trigger their desires, emotions that react to a design susceptibility.

But one thing is not to contribute to already existing trend another not to invest time and identify new opportunities and ideas for concepts or products.

There are various methods (both sophisticated and superficial) to spot a prevalent trend in the market. One of the simplest I find useful would be to cluster and find relevant trends through Geographic, Temporal, Intuitive segments. It will help to distinguish and find the right areas sectors to work with.

It’s a good way to follow the latest search insights from the Google Trends insights to help you understand consumer behaviour throughout day-to-day life. As a part of it, they provide a searching insight to help understand the consumer needs through emerging behaviour and immediate needs. Also, the proposed methodology will not be out of a place on how to stay on top of market trends in a dynamic environment.

These suggestions have nothing with sophisticated forecasting technique and statistical procedure analysis to find hard noticeable trading signals. Just general practices to be more predictable and be able to see relevant changes early.

Afraid of data. Ignoring software automation

Data metamorphose

We leave in an increasingly data-driven time where all your digital movements monitored, and human generates trackable data all around. Digital data may contain insights that would reinforce your hypothesis, create user patterns, and help to clear the vision.

Data metamorphose. From qualitative and quantitative data to an outcome accession.

The data funnel above gives you an understanding of how the data transform from numbers and words set to a tangible result.

You need to uncover most of the usability issues or get some analysis over hard numbers and behaviour, and the data could help us here. It’s a nutshell. We should understand that designs also benefit from data that comes from experiments. Our goal is to create a functional design, to create confidence based on collected evidence that our design is what we think it is.

Software automation

We underestimate, neglect, and sometimes distrust the technology we have around us. Tools and supportive software is already helping to automate the process of testing and research by removing a consuming and wearisome part. The software can help us to analyze the user data much more efficiently and faster to produce the results you might not have been aware of. What is great about data automation is that the users themselves automatically generate it. They can use sophisticated algorithms to compare data sets, interactive heatmaps, actions, recordings that would simplify and give a more comprehensive data vision over user interaction.

UX Strategist Dr David Travis did interesting research. He compared the UX research methods we use today with the methods we used 16 years ago to see how UX research methods have evolved and morphed. Comparing Figure 1 and Figure 2, we can notice that most of the methods have moved to the automated or close quadrants what means that the techniques become increasingly computerized.

Representative UX research methods from 2003. A UX researcher moderates the majority of UX research methods. Data source: userfocus.co.uk
Representative UX research methods from 2019. Most new UX research methods are automated, and some classic UX research methods are becoming automated. Data source: userfocus.co.uk

We can see in Figure 2 that Formative and Summative usability testing migrates predominantly on an automation quadrant. Even the Classic research techniques like surveys and card sorting have migrated to the automated quadrants too. Automation trend keep actuating because the computerized methods are comparatively cheap; they have high overall test coverage and quick sep up speed which makes them a perfect fit for the product development research team.

Start using new technologies in your workflow. Don’t look at automation as a threat to your creative talent, opposite it as an opportunity to build your expertise with innovative technology. We should use the strengths of automated systems like speed, accuracy, scalability, consistency, accuracy, scalability for our best. By excluding the repetitive and time-consuming tasks, you can counter-balance time to more in-person methods that require empathy, social skills improvisation and human judgment.

Conclusion

The digital product success derived from the precision and quality of the analysis of the mistakes we made. The formula where the progress is calculated by mistakes subtraction from the total.

We need sensibly to choose the right technics, methods and variables for every situation separately; nonetheless, we need to cross-share the interest to all sections respectfully. There is no way we can perform a Usability Testing without knowing about users and having enough data.

Neglecting one area of potential mistake can create a cumulative incompletion for the rest segments and the whole product as a whole.

Trends take the place of satellite for the product ecosystem that makes it relevant and understandable for people at a certain period. Creates a clear direction or even guide about what your customers care about and what matters to them.

It’s essential to keep the focus on the potential slip areas to build a reliable product. And lastly, it’s up to us if we want to get over making mistakes and start building an authentic product with a strong business and user experience that triggers a clear response from the user.


5 most common design mistakes and how to avoid them! was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.