How To Create an Intuitive Interface

September 9, 2016

“We want our website design to be super intuitive.” Designers, how many times have you heard that from one of your clients? I hear it all too often, and my typical response is: “Absolutely, but let’s talk about how we’re going to make that happen.”

Everyone wants to experience a website or mobile app that just makes sense, and that makes it extremely easy to find what you’re looking for. I can tell you as a UX and creative designer that there isn’t an easy button that makes this happen.

Easy Button

Image: Staples.com

 

If you’re working with an experienced designer, they will talk you through how numerous amounts of user needs, business goals and technology variables influence the way your digital property will end up looking. Yes, this may seem complex; but first, let’s talk about what “feels” intuitive.

Ease of Use

For me, Apple has “intuitive feel” down. Most of their products and services that I use on a regular basis make life so incredibly easy. For example, my son who is now 2 has probably been watching his daddy play with devices since the day he was born. Once he was old enough to hold an iPhone, it literally took him five minutes to learn how to swipe to view more photos in our family stream. He knows the icon that plays his favorite videos (Youtube), he knows how to close out of an app, and he knows if he pushes the big thumb button a bunch he can talk to Siri – I didn’t need to teach him how to use any of these features. The intuitive nature of the device and the interface made it easy to use and left positive impressions on what worked.

Intuitive Design - Apple Products and Services

Yes, those are paintings of our dogs; our kids before kids. We’re crazy dog owners.

 

It’s features like these that have made (IMO) Apple the leader of digital convenience, intuitive interfaces and ease of use. So, if you can think of your website design in the way Apple designers think of the iPhone interface, your goal is to create ways to accomplish your user’s needs with the least amount of thinking and effort. People then come back and hopefully repeat the same process so quickly that it becomes second nature.

User Needs and Business Goals

Both are equally important and many times are NOT aligned when you start a project. The key is to fully understand each perspective of who needs what. Your web traffic is coming to you to find a specific piece of information, product, service, etc. and the business wants to convert this need into a transaction. Knowing that many users navigate and consume information in different ways, you need to create user paths that help guide all those different user types to conversion points while maintaining engagement. The only way this gets done is with:

  1. Simple navigation structure
  2. Great content
  3. Easy-to-use style elements
  4. Intuitive development features

Time Is Money

Time is probably the most important factor for keeping users engaged. With all the items we covered above, you have to package them up in a way that creates an experience that (literally) a 1-year-old can use to get what he needs. That might be excessive, but you get the point – at most, you’ll have a few seconds to grab the attention of your users and guide them to their needs. If this fails, you lose users, you lose money and it might be the end point for your business.

Uber

Image: TheVerge.com

Saving time is what Uber does incredibly well. They make it so easy to get a ride from anywhere, to any location, with you knowing exactly who’s coming to get you, plus when and roughly how much it’ll cost you. It takes about two or three presses of your finger and, ta-da! – your ride is outside waiting for you. It’s that type of convenience and intuitive nature that most businesses struggle to create.

Test Everything

It’s incredibly hard to nail an interface design on the first try. You have to test, and test – and then test 10 times more. Test your navigation order, test your content, test button colors and sizes and photo placement. If you have concerns that different users might use a feature differently, then test and find out what the majority prefers to use. Testing doesn’t have to cost a lot and there are kick-ass tools like Optimizely that can help you set up many quality testing scenarios that’ll give you insight into how users interact with your “intuitive” interface. Present this to your clients as a step within your creation process during prototyping or a piece that happens once your property goes live. Knowing how to make your business more attractive and easier to use shouldn’t be a tough sell.

In Closing

There isn’t a magic formula for creating an interface or product that everyone is going to love. Do your homework:

  1. How, and for whom, am I going to be creating convenience?
  2. Learn as much as you can about the users you’re trying to attract, and what their preferences and their frustrations are.
  3. Understand the business you’re designing for. What are their goals? What do they stand for? How are they perceived? Who is their competition?
  4. How am I going to save time?
  5. Test and make sure your theories are correct.

If you can accomplish the above, you should be well on your way to creating an experience that will be remembered.