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There’s a lot of talk about improving UX and putting the user first, but what does a great user experience really require? I asked a panel of 13 successful entrepreneurs to share their favorite best practices, especially for newer startups that may be tempted to focus on flash over experience:
What’s one UX design best practice you think new startups should NOT overlook?
Their most practical tips are below:
1. Call to Action
New startups need to make sure there is a priority on collecting leads by simplifying the landing page so that the value proposition is clear.
2. Lead Generation
Many startup companies that I’ve seen focus on making a “pretty” website but fail to focus on an actual goal for the user. In most cases, this should be successfully capturing a new lead for the business. Ensure that you have a compelling reason to sign up and a strong call to action with very straightforward steps to capture and nurture the new lead.
3. Consistent Navigation
Having consistent navigation throughout your product is key. It might feel boring or repetitive, but it prevents users from getting lost.
Make sure your fonts are large enough for most to read. It’s better to err a point larger than a point smaller. Make sure you use Web-safe fonts such as Arial, and make sure the color is readable. Use caps sparingly. And finally, don’t go crazy using too many fonts. Try to be consistent.
5. Fogg’s Behavior Model
One clutch practice for any new startup is to truly understand BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model. In a nutshell, three factors have to come together for users to show any desired behavior: motivation to do something, ability to do it and a well-placed trigger that offers them the moment of converting potential into kinetic interaction. Or, in math terms: B=mat.
6. Guest Checkout
Allowing visitors to purchase products or services as guests is one way to encourage purchases from mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets have keyboards, but signing up or logging in is just one more form that takes time and requires typing, which can be frustrating on small screens.
Users are also less likely to complete registration if they must confirm the account. The best setup allows users to sign up or log in with their existing accounts, but does not require it. One-time customers are especially appreciative of the ease of checkout when this option is available.
Gamification is a hot word in UX/UI today. When there are opportunities to gamify your site, it’s a piece of best practice that’s ideal to adopt because users love the sense of competition and achievement. Virtual badges, points or other gamified activities on your site tend to increase user retention and time on site. Gamification also allows companies to effectively track metrics about user interactions to make incremental improvements over time.
8. Responsive Design
I recently overhauled my website to create a responsive design that gives users an incredible experience whether they are on a laptop, tablet or mobile device. As mobile traffic becomes the majority for many websites, it’s so important to make sure your design translates well.
9. Quick Guides
Most people will only spend several seconds on a Web page to figure out if it’s something they want. They want what they want, they want it now, and they won’t give you much time to help guide them along the right path. Keep your design simple, and focus on strong, clear calls-to-action to get people to convert.
Once you begin the conversion process, make it quick and easy for them to get started; you can always get more information later. Long forms to fill out, privacy issues or security concerns may prevent people from doing what you want them to do. Get commitment to earn consistency.
We follow the “Lead Startup” method. That means build, measure and learn. There’s no 100 percent right way to think about UX design. The key is engagement and leading people through your company funnel properly. Building the right UX is more an art than a science.
Approaching UX in a lean way will allow you to quickly learn, fail and iterate. You should never assume you know what your users want. You should give them ways to tell you.
User-centered design is about obsessing over users’ needs and ensuring feedback is driving every step of the design process. Getting low-fidelity wireframes and mockups in front of customers as early as possible for proper feedback is your No. 1 priority. You want to minimize assumption-based effort.
Don’t be afraid of showing an ugly and unfinished concept; you’ll want to weave users into the design process as soon and as often as you can. Make sure your designers stay close to actual users no matter what. Listen and take lots of notes; be inquisitive. The ROI on this feedback is HUGE.
12. Understanding Customers
Really talk to customers. Don’t try to sell them on your product, idea or service. You should instead understand from the customer perspective if there is a need and how it can be fulfilled. So often startups begin with “look at this cool thing I created, what do you think of it?” The data is immediately tainted in that approach.
Startups must instead strive to understand their target customer first and build products and services that fit in the white space.
13. Testing on Different Monitors
It’s really common for UX guys to work on large monitors similar to the 27″ Thunderbolt displays that most of my team members use. But the experience a user will have on a laptop, tablet or PC that doesn’t have a “cinema” display will likely be very different. We make sure that our software and any new features are tested on multiple screens before we send them out into the world.
Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
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