UX is on the tip of everyone’s tongues at the moment. At Aqueduct, it’s at the heart of everything we do. We’re even on the hunt right now for new UX talent. Why is UX so ubiquitous? Largely because without solid thinking about user experience, building anything digital becomes guess-work.
UX enables you to create products that users love, based on research and understanding of how they actually want to use things. Building anything without a focus on UX, by nature will leave you with a mess. Building with a focus on UX can create spectacular, beautiful experiences.
We try to walk the walk here. So, when we say that ‘UX runs through everything,’ we literally mean that we sit our UX specialists with the designers and developers while they’re working together. This proximity means that changes happen together, rather than in silos. It also ensures that UX is central to every design, functionality and decision, without getting lost in emails or forgotten in meetings.
We work on a variety of UX projects for clients, large and small. And based on our experience, UX projects tend to fall into one of two camps:
The two types of UX projects:
- “Build me something delightful”
In a ‘build me something beautiful’ project the magic really happens. We’re brought in at the beginning and get to hang our designs, thinking and creative concepts on solid UX foundations. We look at how, what, why and where users have needs, and develop solutions that deliver this simply and delightfully.
Whatever the client requirement, these projects are always a joy for us. We love solving problems. We love delving into user needs, product architecture and clever systems.
Recently, we helped one client develop a personalisation engine, so that every user had a tailored experience. We also pay close attention to what the form of product is – some digital products by their nature prioritise quick load, or excellent delivery of video, or interactive features, and we ensure that every bit of the build is tailored to the needs of the user.
- “Help, please help!”
Sadly, not everyone starts where they mean to go on. Plenty of businesses start building without thinking about UX at all. We sometimes get involved when a project starts to hit roadblocks, and we wish this didn’t happen (although we love fixing things, it’s easier for clients to get the UX in at the start, we think).
If you don’t set the foundations of your project in UX and design, you might end up struggling. If your journeys don’t work, you’re already retro-fitting, you’ve only just started looking at the final outcome, then you already know that UX wasn’t at the heart of the project when you began.
Many companies see a need, invest and begin building so quickly that there isn’t time to allow the thinking to develop. This leads to mismatch functionalities, a lack of cohesive UX and lots of unpicking by developers.
If this has happened to you, please don’t beat yourself up! We see it all the time. But once you’ve made the mistake of forgetting to start with UX, you won’t do it again.
Why does this happen so often?
UX is of paramount importance. But, it’s often forgotten about. Why is this? Well, if you’re a growing business, and you’re early on the path to digital maturity, the momentum can be a little too exciting. Slowing down seems counterproductive, somehow.
But ploughing on too quickly can undermine your transformation altogether. What’s the alternative? Take time, and spend some time on design thinking. Gather together stakeholders from different levels of the business, and understand their needs and challenges.
We use a simple process to ensure that every digital product we build is brilliantly tailored to suit the user. So, resist the temptation to hire a big company, who will recommend big software, with a big charge, without focusing on the user. You’re going to be different. Be smart, and spend your time thinking. What problem are you trying to solve? What opportunity is there for your company through transformation? How could you simplify and ease your internal processes? Who should you talk to, to find out the real needs inside your business?
How to avoid building bad digital products:
- Do not choose the technology, then build on top of that.
- Start with user groups and define business needs.
- Turn these business needs into digital needs.
- Get experts in to scope out a project.
- Work using modern working practises. Don’t work in wireframes. Build in clickable prototypes, test with users as early as you can..
- Get proof of concept when you hit £50k not £500k.
- Iterate, don’t rush.
- Understand what you want to achieve, prioritise this and do it brilliantly. Don’t chuck everything in together.
What happens when you get it right? We’re proud to be partnering with a charity this November. Our focus throughout has been on accessibility, for a site that people visit with a defined aim. With a clear, transactional need, the UX of the client’s site needed to provide personalised, clear information that is easy to navigate to. With multiple communities to serve, and a diverse user base, across legal, public, practical and personal needs, this project required a truly UX centric approach..
The result? Although not complete yet, our designers have worked throughout to ensure that everything on the page has a purpose. That meant at times, that we had to forgo ‘nice design touches’ because it didn’t have the users best interests at heart. Creating a uniform look and feel, across all platforms and content, gave that wonderful familiar feeling. We have worked with Scope to deliver complex user needs in a simple user journey, and that will impact the entire business.
So, here’s why you should put UX at the heart of what you do. When you get it right, you can expect:
- Delighted customers
- Better customer service, linked to UX
- Brand advocates who care about your product, and share that with their friends
Do you have an exciting new digital project ahead? Get in touch with us today, we’re always on the look-out for fresh challenges.
And, if you fancy yourself as a budding designer, developer or UX-pert, head over to our jobs page here