Building an awesome user experience and interface from scratch is no easy feat. There are many UI/UX design experts out there who can help your startup with product design (and we can help you find them), but for the purposes of this post, let’s start from the beginning:
What is user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, and what is the difference between the two?
- A good UX means that the entirety of your product is useful, valuable, enjoyable for the user.
- A good UI means that, on top of all that, it looks really good too.
It’s hard to interchange the two, however. And truthfully, without an intuitive UX, a pleasant UI is useless.
If you can’t get the ketchup out of the bottle, what good is the bottle? That being said, this image of the new and improved Heinz bottle created some controversy in that some argued it tried to oversimplify the incredibly complicated process that goes into enhancing a user experience.
But, I digress. Combine solid UX with beautiful UI design and your users will be thrilled. Because once you’ve determined a useful product idea, you need to make it usable – which, by now, we all know is not easy. An excellent experience obviously benefits your users but ultimately your business, because when your product is enjoyable and easy to use, users will convert, come back, and tell their friends.
Aside from being platform agnostic (because that’s painfully obvious), let’s take a look at some of the most important UI/UX principles we see from high-growth businesses.
Place unrelenting focus on your wireframe
Starting out, your wireframe is the map, framework and blueprint of the experience and will not only dictate how the app or site operates for the user, but identifies the hard problems you need to think of ahead of time. Where does content live, behind which pages and buttons, and how does the flow feel to a user? Here’s where functionality and usability really need to work together to create a memorable experience.
- Here are 20 of the best wireframe tools.
Don’t let feature creep take over
Every high-growth business starts with razor-sharp focus on their initial offering. When launching a business or product, you want to make sure you nail the initial offering and experience, figure out user demand, and then begin to expand functionality from there. It’s easy to quickly react to feedback but you have to keep your eyes on the prize.
- The Intercom team digs into feature creep and what it looks like on their blog: “To solve feature creep you need to identify which features are being adopted by everyone, and which ones are struggling to gain traction.”
Always put your users first
It’s easy to slip into a pattern of designing for yourself and people like you. But, does that accurately represent the wants of your potential users? This means talking to actual humans about what they would look for in a solution for the problem you’re trying to solve. If they face the problem you’re trying to solve, do they believe in your vision? A good way to conduct a user interview about UX is to understand what they are trying to achieve, their current workflow, and what they would change about their current process. Which brings me to my next point –
Be iterative, but move fast
One convo with a dozen potential users will not get you very far. Without getting completely overwhelmed by multiple voices and opinions, this needs to be an ongoing process, with different users and therefore different use cases. Share your designs and mockups with friendlies and get feedback as you go – before you start coding. Once you’ve coded, never stop testing for usability issues.
- InVision, a great design tool for prototypes and mockups, created a simple guide to product testing which includes a step-by-step, and week-by-week guide.
Data is your best friend
Get ready to test, test, test – and watch, watch, watch. Your product design is bound to change and improve over time – don’t try to boil the ocean in a day. Make small, iterative changes to both UI and UX that will ultimately move the needle over weeks, months, quarters. Understand that A/B testing button or site background colors might improve conversion rates short term, but building to a better overall experience (including aspects of your business beyond just design) is ultimately what matters with users. So while data is incredibly important and something that should hopefully inform as many decisions as possible, understand the potential impact of each data point, especially for newer companies with low traffic and challenges reaching statistical significance.
The best user experience takes into consideration basic design principles – be easy to digest, easy to trust, easy to understand, easy to adopt, and easy to recommend.
Now for the fun stuff – here are some of our favorite UI/UX examples from high-growth businesses:
AirBnB is intuitive, easy to navigate, allows for alterable results, demonstrates social proof, and more. Here are some great reads about AirBnB’s UX/UI design focus:
- Why Airbnb’s New Head of Design Believes ‘Design-Led’ Companies Don’t Work
- From Airbnb: The Real Value of UX Research
Slack is the fun enterprise chat option we always wanted, while still figuring out important features & functionality, and even if it might not ever replace email completely. Here are some good reads on Slack’s UX/UI design:
Other honorable mentions:
Feeling overwhelmed? Did you know that VentureApp can help? Tell us a bit about your design needs & goals, and we will do ALL the legwork to find you the best web or mobile designer that fits your timeframe, budget, and more.