INTERSECT is a new blog we're launching to explore the creativity and value that arise at the intersection of technology-powered business growth, design, and engineering.

At Whitefusion, one of our core values is Respect the User. Our experience design studio has created apps and websites for many clients over the years, and we’ve seen first-hand the complex issues that arise when the goals of a business aren’t in alignment with the goals of the users of their technology.

This one of the many reasons we’ve decided to launch our new publication INTERSECT. As designers and developers of digital experiences, we will share our knowledge and explore the importance of putting the user first—finding new ways to bring business growth, design, and engineering disciplines together to build great products.

UX is more than a buzzword, it’s the heart and soul of your business.

The very fast-growing field of UX (User Experience) design and research is bringing to the forefront the need for business products and communication channels that make users’ emotional well-being and sense of success paramount. When a customer becomes frustrated, confused, or unhappy, or feels taken advantage of because a poorly-executed product or communication, the damage to the business can be significant.

And yet…too many startups and large corporations alike continue to make serious mistakes and undervalue (whether by intent or by ignorance) the importance of great UX. What do I mean by this? Let’s look at a few principles that are all too easy to compromise during the course of a design project.

Principle #1: Don’t Manipulate the User.

Users are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to interacting with digital products. They can tell when they’re being coerced to click a spammy ad, or give up unwarranted private information, or buy a bundle instead of a single item, or read bad content that was assembled by bots in order to steal extra search traffic. Instead, to Respect the User means to be clear and upfront in all communications, disclose what is necessary in an understandable way, don’t create a misleading interface, and trust the user to put their time and money behind truly valuable business offerings.

Principle #2: Don’t Waste the User’s Time and Money.

Alas, some products are engineered to be as “sticky” as possible—not because the product is really beneficial when it’s used regularly, but because the product is supposed to suck as much cash out of a user’s bank account. Again, users are becoming more savvy in this regard; the ability for a new game or a social network or other consumer app to trick or abuse their user’s attention is diminishing. A classic example is a “free” app that requires a costly subscription or in-app purchase to do anything useful (yet not be clear and upfront about those requirements). Remember, Respect the User! Don’t design a bad UX that will ultimately harm your reputation in order to make a fast buck.

Principle #3: Make Things Easier. And Then Make Things Easier.

Everyone wants a product that is “easy to use” or content that is “easy to read,” but that is of course easier said than done. And, unfortunately, things somtimes get designed in such a way that make them (theoretically) better for the business but worse for the user. All you have to do is witness the battle ranging online between publications and ad blockers. So many publications have made it harder and harder to interact with great content in a pleasant and usable way due to the terrible implementation of ads. Now users are fighting back with technology to remove crappy ads (and even potentially good ads). If only publications would remember to Respect the User and find ways to generate money from advertisers without compromising on the UX, or put additional effort in providing enough value that users are willing to pay for it. (I’m not talking about paywalls per se, but voluntary subscriptions or other content monetization techniques.)

It’s not always easy to put the user first. But the rewards for your business will become obvious over the long-term.

In Leanne Byrom’s article on the importance of UX, she writes:

It is very likely that every person reading this article has had an interaction with a product or service that doesn’t work the way you expect or that doesn’t quite meet your needs. Think back to the time, and how it made you feel. Frustrated? Confused? Stupid? Angry?

When your product or interface doesn’t work the way your users expect it to, these are some of the feelings that they experience. Generally your users are your customers and as such, any of these emotions are the last thing you want them to experience when engaging with your business.

Exactly! Putting leadership muscle behind significant UX research and design, making it a cornerstone of business excellence, is all about making sure customers are excited and enthusatic about your product or content, not frustrated and angry. And, inevitably, happy customers will lead to more happy customers. What are you doing in your business today to maximize your customers’ happiness?

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