Last week Crowd DNA execs Gabriel Noble, Julie Brethous and Essi Mikkola went to hear Zoe Guiraudon at the General Assembly recap on UX (user experience design) and how it helps brands...

User experience provides a crucial competitive advantage for brands. Ocado, Uber and Airbnb – the biggest innovators of recent years became winners in their categories thanks to their user interface, and the experience these provide.

Even though UX design is often discussed in the context of digital services, it’s actually an umbrella term for human-centered disciplines like service design, information design and graphic design. Everyone can benefit from the principles of UX design that follow the classic ‘Double diamond’ process established by the Design Council.

The Design Council's 'Double diamond'
The Design Council's 'Double diamond'

The practice of UX is essentially about solving problems with design. Creating user flows, wireframing and usability testing are some of the main techniques to make sure the product is good and answers the needs of its users. UX is always subjective since there’s no universal taste, though creating personas can help take into account the needs of a range of people. UX design is rooted in psychology and its main areas of interests are understanding what users think, feel and how their instincts affect these. A well-known tool for marketers, Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of needs’ proves itself handy in the case of user experiences too.

Using Maslow's 'Hierarchy of needs' to create ux
Using Maslow's 'Hierarchy of needs' to create ux

Below are some top tips for designing better user experiences:

  1. 1. User research forms the basis to any design
  2. 2. Asking the right questions is key
  3. 3. Collaboration: incorporating all stakeholders in the design process brings in more ideas and insights
  4. 4. Affinity Mapping helps visualise and come up with themes when thinking of journeys and user insights
  5. 5. Personas help to empathise with different types of users
  6. 6. Prototyping helps thinking as ideas become tangible. All you needs is a pen and paper – if a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings
  7. 7. Iterative process = design – test – learn: repeat

What differentiates Ocado, Uber and Airbnb from their predecessors – traditional supermarkets, taxi companies and hotels – is that they’re borne out of user needs (I need food, I need someone to drive me from place a to place b, I need a place to stay). Moreover, every little detail has been designed carefully to make the experience more satisfying and to involve the least possible effort for everyone using the service. Whether it’s a visual, audio or touch-based interface, UX should be at the heart of your decisions. They say that the best services are often the ones you don’t even notice.

Part of InterFace, a series exploring – across digital and physical – how our touchpoints with brands are changing…