If you’ve ever opened an app for the very first time, and figured out how to use it without a video tutorial or a lengthy instruction manual, it’s because it had great UX.
User Experience (UX for short) Design is the process of adding enhancements intended to make interactions easier, make information simpler, and make completing tasks quicker. The term covers all aspects of a person’s interactions with software, and focuses on making their experience as a user enjoyable, as well as productive.
Design decisions are based on real information from the people who use the product, and are designed with their specific needs in mind. UX takes background research, competitor analysis, digital and industry standards, and direct user feedback into consideration to help build a tool that is intuitive, clear, easy, and thorough.
UX incorporates some of the following key points into decision making:
- Mobile-First Design: This means that if you design something to work on a small screen, it will be easy to scale up to work just as easy on a bigger screen. Designing for a big screen and then trying to use it on a small screen rarely works well.
- Responsive Layout: A responsive layout allows the content on the page to scale and stack in the best way possible for the screen size on which it’s being shown. You can see this in action if you’re viewing a website on your phone or tablet, and then rotate the screen 90 degrees. The content should shift around to better fit the fact that it has more horizontal or vertical space.
- Accessibility: Incorporating accessibility standards means designing the product or page to be easy for anyone with a disability to use it. This includes visual impairments like blindness, color blindness, or those prone to seizures. It also includes making sure that anyone without the use of a mouse could navigate and use the site. Building the back-end to accommodate for screen reading tools is also a major factor in accommodating accessibility.
- Research – Know Your Users: This could arguably be the first bullet on this list. Knowing who you are designing for, the environments in which they use the product, their motivations, their priorities, and what their expectations are around using it, you’ll be able to better anticipate their needs when making design decisions. “Getting inside their heads” will help you understand from their perspective, what it is they really need and why.
- User Testing: This is a great tool for testing out solutions with the people who would actually be using it before time is spent building something that might not fit their needs. It involves having users volunteer to run through a prototype of the proposed solution with a list of specific tasks. Getting quantitative data on how well the proposed design was received helps us make better decisions in the future, and ensures that any time spent building something is time well spent.
- Visual Design: A clean, and balanced look and feel can make or break the usability of a product. While something can have great graphic design, but be difficult to navigate or use, focusing on how it works before how it looks generally alleviates that imbalance.
With the explosion of apps and mobile device usage, the need for good UX is increasingly more important. People have less screen space to do things on, more distractions while multitasking, and have a new standard for ease of use.
Specifically, within LTSS software, the need for great UX can mean the difference between life and death, or the difference between compliance or a bad audit. At MediSked, you will start to see more and more changes to our products that reflect a heavy focus on UX enhancements.
Some of our new features this year will not only address concerns we’ve heard from our users, but also make sure that they are easy to use, compliant with national standards, and improve accessibility & usability.
If you’d like to volunteer to be a part of a user testing session for a prototype, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be able to notify you when an appropriate session is available, and get you on the list of participants.
Danielle Bonanni is the User Experience Specialist at MediSked, LLC and brings with her a passion for efficient, intuitive, fun design. She has a strong background in visual and interface design, as well as journalism and organizational communication.