Details Matter in User Experience Design

Sometimes clients will not readily understand why designers appear to be so picky and opinionated when collaborating with them on User Experience and Visual Design for a project. But a big part of the value of consultation by a talented designer, during the creation of a web application, website, or even a fundamental branding element like a logo, is having someone pay close attention to every detail. A great User Experience designer will help you keep the experience at large, and all of the little details in sync with one another from top to bottom.

At the surface, the selection of a photo, of a color palette, the exact wording of messaging within user workflows, or the complexity of options that are presented to a user in a single view might not appear as monumental decisions.  However, there are documented psychological phenomena that can be triggered by small differences in all of the above, and care in sorting out the details of a User Experience can make the difference between a good or bad experience, and between a user loving or hating your site or app.

An example of one such psychological phenomenon is priming. In a nutshell, priming is the tendency for humans to have subsequent cognitions affected by some initial stimulus.  Make a user frustrated, even for a moment, at the start, and they’ll tend to perceive their entire experience as frustrating. Even if the overall outcome was successful, that initial stimulus affects their entire perception of the experience.

Let’s say your splash screen is muddled with that one extra option which makes the user have a hard time choosing what to do next. Immediately, you’ve triggered cognitions along the lines of “man it’s hard to figure out what to do here.”  From that point forward, as they step through some flow, their mind is already primed to assume “this app is hard”.

On the other hand, give them only the options they need to confidently and quickly make the initial decision, and they’ll roll through subsequent well-designed tasks primed by that initial success, build on it, and leave your app with a positive feeling. You’ll have made their day easier and they’ll remember that when they think of your application or site moving forward.

As a further example, If your homepage conveys “smooth, simple, easy” and you sell widgets that are popular because of those characteristics, you’ve put your users in the right headspace as soon as they get to your site. Users will be having cognitions along the lines of “yeah, this really is simple and easy!” as they explore your product.

But if you don’t fully consider the details in that homepage, you can easily end up with negative priming. That one little button that’s inconsistent combines with that jumpy page behavior that doesn’t jibe with your “smooth” product, and soon you’ve got a user experience that undermines your brand, instead of providing reinforcement.

Details matter in any web development project—be it a website, web application or combination of both. So let’s execute on them to the fullest extent possible, to make users happy and present you or your product in the best light possible!