It is all about understanding users and then deciding how to address their needs best test
Humblebrag alert: we’ve recently launched LEXolution.DMS Pro Mobile DESK which allows you easy access to your documents on the go. We thought it might be a nice touch to share some of the principles we’ve used during the design process to celebrate that. More on that below:-
As the digitization of communications and services keeps upping its pace, we are all faced with the notion of UX daily. Moreover, it is irrelevant if you are a service vendor or user – we are all affected by UX (User Experience) in some shape and form. In addition to value and functionality, truly great vendors distinguish through excellent user experience.
In short, the chances are that you too meet the concept of UX every single day. The typography and formatting of this article and page that you now read impact how you feel while reading this text. Have the publishers made it easy for you? If so, they’ve achieved a good experience for their readers.
However, if you are still new to the UX notion:
What is UX and why it matters
Depending on the context, UX can have different (albeit quite related) meanings.
From one side, UX is all about how your readers, users, service consumers (etc.) feel while using your apps or services. This feeling results from the “build quality,” structuring, and packaging of vendors’ content to their consumers.
Taken from another angle, UX also refers to a set of practices used throughout the app-building process, aimed to cater to and enhance what users feel and experience while consuming content, in whatever shape or form.
It is clear how one notion of UX connects to the other. Content vendors and service providers alike have to mind their users’ feelings to stand out from the crowd. And, in doing so, they strive to apply best practices that reinforce positive experiences.
The goal is to thrill users and to keep them coming back for more.
Who should pay attention to UX
If you’ve made it this far, you may wonder, “what’s in it for me?” Are you, in particular, supposed to pay attention to user experience? Well, I guess it boils down to what you do within your niche and how you interact with your stakeholders.
To give an example, if you are one of your law firm principles, you may feel that your services have nothing to do with user experience. After all, you have “clients,” not “users.” You (likely) aren’t doing any software application development, and does that make the core principles of UX irrelevant to you?
Even in such an example, I feel there’s a strong case in favor of minding the UX. Let’s consider:
- Okay, you are not a software vendor, but your law firm likely has a website;
- The purpose of your website is to serve some content to your prospects and clients;
- That said, do you feel a lousy UX on your website, blog, or other touch points is more or less likely to get you a new client?
The above is even more critical if you’ve started to productize your legal services. If that is the case, you are likely devising some applications and portals for your clients to use.
The essential UX principles
With all said, it is clear why UX is nothing to be brushed off. If you care about how your clients or users feel about your brand, there are some core principles that you (or your team) should have in mind.
Here are some of the most critical starting points:
It all starts with users
You cannot, after all, spell “user experience” without “users.” While that much is clear, sometimes it could be not so easy to zoom out from the project and put ourselves in users’ shoes.
Sometimes highly skilled designers like to impress their peers and revert to using very creative yet experimental methods. If users, however, are on the more conservative side, they could easily be confused by such avant-garde design. If users are confused, they are less likely to reach their goals with your app or website (or, at least, to do so in a reasonable time). Despite all the great efforts, that would lead to poor UX.
So what does it mean to start with users in mind? Have a well-defined user persona in mind even before you start devising your web page or application. Think about who will consume the content, what it is for, and their likely goal.
Further, think about the circumstances in which users would consume your content. Will they do it at their desks, or are they more likely to access your apps and pages while they are on the go?
(there are great books on how to craft and iterate your user persona, and you can find them on Amazon for Kindle readers – I would highly recommend you to do so if you are new to the subject)
Relevance, relevance, relevance
This principle naturally stems from the first one. If you have started with your users in mind, you are likely to understand why they consume your content in the first place, what goal they are achieving with it, and why they return for more.
Naturally, visitors come to your website with a purpose. With that knowledge, you are better positioned to help them reach that goal in a faster and more structured way.
As mentioned, it could be tempting to include all the bells and whistles in your web pages and apps. However, if you only stick with your users’ primary goal, you may remove all other elements and objects that don not contribute there.
Use simple language in your writing
Regardless of how well educated your audience is, simpler is always better, and writing simplicity is even more relevant for lawyers due to a few reasons.
For starters, most of the lawyers’ communications are in writing. Lawyer and law firm websites are usually rich in written content (especially the news and blog sections). Therefore, it would likely pay to spend some time putting all that content into an easily digestible form.
Secondly, lawyers are, by and large, still frequently using legalese jargon in their daily work. Sometimes bits of that jargon could slip into documents and pages which do not require complex language to deliver the message.
Your clients already know you’re a subject expert, so no need to reinforce that message by using complex wording on all occasions. Less is often more, and that is so with UX as well.
Typography is king
It is not only what you write and how you phrase it, but also how you lay it out for reading. Therefore, typography has a considerable role, and it represents much more than merely a choice of font.
As publishers know, everything that has to do with putting words on paper or screen is typography. Spacing, letter size, fonts, and color collectively influence how easily users can consume written content and how they will feel while doing so.
Robert Bringhurst, the author of “The Elements of Typographic Style,” defined typography as “the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form.” That quote drives the point home.
It is not up to you if you deal with UX
It does not matter how we feel about UX – whether we recognize its importance or not. Even if we choose not to address our users’ feelings, they will have their experience nonetheless.
User Experience is not one of those games where “the only way to win is not to play them.” Quite the opposite, to stay on top of our users’ perception, we have to take an active role. It all starts from understanding our users and their goals and then deciding how to address those needs best.
Intrapreneur & Managing Director,
STP Information Technology Bulgaria EOOD