A good UI/UX design is much more than a manifestation of technology.
An important part of a UI/UX designer’s toolbox, empathy makes an app or a portal more user-friendly. Being empathetic is as important as creativity, packaging, software, or competition.
Empathy puts a designer on the same mental wavelength as the user. It may not be something straight out of a visual style guide, but it adds value to the work. It provides useful clues to designers. It helps them cut through the navigation clutter, and makes the app more viewer-friendly.
Which brings us to the question: What is empathy and how do we acquire it?
Empathy is the mental ability to understand what drives customers — their fears, apprehensions, limitations. It helps you achieve higher levels of perfection by eliminating user inconvenience and enhancing value. Indeed, putting yourself in the shoes of the user may be the greatest skill that instantly rates your work better than the work of most others.
Here’s how you can use empathy:
Open-mindedness: Do not stick to patterns. Use your own imagination and instinct. Where do they point? Reach out to a cross-section of potential users to gain insights, suggestions, and value-additions that make your project more customer-centric. Invite suggestions from users that can further improve the experience in navigation, cognition, and seamlessness. Exposing your design to customers early can give you a fantastic head start and lead you on the way to iron out deficiencies. Research gives your work a practical edge in conveying the essence of your ideas; it teaches you the things that experience or intuition cannot!
It’s important to stress that the sample size must be diverse. It must have adequate representation from users of all age groups, socio-economic classes, and divides that the app will address. It is the most reliable way to arrive at a composite action plan that accommodates every possible need, seen from every possible angle.
A diverse team: It helps to handpick professionals from diverse educational backgrounds. They bring different perspectives to the table. Their rich inputs can make a winning difference to the project. A professional who has worked for an e-commerce site will contribute differently than the one who has an enviable FMCG exposure. This diversity of human resources, capable tools, attitudes, and demography will bring out the best in collaborative learning and desired output.
The value of learning: So it comes about that a UX design must be a good amalgam of design esthetics and user-centricity. As any good UX architect will tell you, a good app design is a work-in-progress. It keeps evolving and shape-shifting. Taking yourself too seriously and accepting your work as the last word will make you fade faster as a professional. Keep discovering, keep learning. That’s the only way to make your work cutting-edge and user-friendly.