Don’t get stuck in a UX paradox.

Woman pushing a glass button for testing UX parameters. User experience concept

Even the most well-intentioned projects can end up getting in their own way. And despite careful planning, research and tailored design, some UX design principles can almost be counterintuitive.

For example, creating a compelling user experience is rarely as simple as designing for ‘everyone’.

In fact, it’s about doing the opposite. By focusing on one user, or a specific persona, your design might yield results for your entire client base. Narrowing your focus lets you put all your effort into thinking more precisely, and giving you a deeper understanding of the problems you can fix with effective design.

Here are a few insights – straight from the UX team at Torpedo – into the early stages of developing or refreshing  a website, or an app, that could transform the way you think about your user’s journey.

Laying the foundations.

As a client, you’re taking a big risk every time you alter a product or create one from scratch. UX teams know this, which is why they want to get everything right before they even start designing.

The first step is always the same: research your audience – their wants and needs. That doesn’t just mean lots of reports and surveys. Instead, it’s about talking – understanding what you want for your users and helping you see how a thoughtful UX team can create an experience that’s enjoyable, effective and helps your users achieve their goals.

But one of the most critical aspects of initial UX research is trying to find the target users. Once we’ve discovered those, we can create user personas.

Personas are archetypal characters that represent a larger user group. They help us know who we’re designing for, what their pain points may be and what obstacles we can help them overcome.

Figuring out who we’re designing for is essential, and in many ways, every decision we make needs to come through the user. If not, who are we designing for anyway?

The paradox of specificity.

After you’ve narrowed down your audience, you might still find that your design will only appeal to 80% of them. Although that represents the majority of your users, what happens when we focus on the remaining 20%? Is there a way to get closer to 100%?

Let’s answer your question with another question:

What do the World Wide Web, the microwave, and Coca-Cola have in common? They were all created for a specific purpose but proved to have a massive appeal outside their intended core users.

The reason for this is in the paradox of specificity, which states that by focusing on a more specific set of solutions for a smaller segment of users, you may end up with a product that caters to a broader set of needs. In short, by focusing on solving one problem well, you can create a better product than by trying to provide a second-rate solution to many.

It also has the added benefit of helping out users that are usually marginalised, such as people with impaired hearing, mobility challenges or learning disabilities – making your product more accessible, memorable and surprisingly popular.

The dangers of overdesigning.

Now, just because we’ve introduced you to two concepts that can help you add features specific to your users, don’t get carried away. Adding more features, forms and buttons won’t necessarily translate into actions from your users. More often than not, it just ends up scaring them away.

That’s all because of something called Hick’s law that states that the time it takes users to make a decision increases exponentially with each added choice.

Take a ridesharing app, for example. Most users just want to get from point A to point B. Added features like scheduled rides, tiers of cars etc – though practical at times – can make some users crave a more straightforward process.

All this to say that you shouldn’t try to tick too many boxes by adding more features. In the end, if what you create is excellent at doing the single thing that your clients are after, it will lure even more of them down the line.

So, the next time you need to revamp your client journey, rework your website or even create a unique app, these concepts can help you think like a UX designer and bring you a step closer to becoming an advocate for your users’ experience.

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