The 10 commandments of product design – Part 2

In order to conciliate criteria and minimize communication problems with clients, we created a document with the 10 commandments of product design. This is the second part of it.

Some weeks ago, we published the first part of this series. Our idea was to create a document with 10 essential commandments of digital product design. These were written to help UX/UI designers and clients agree on how to tackle digital projects, hoping that the very tedious task of explaining every single usability and design decisions made during our work process would be avoided.

This is the second part of the 10 commandments of digital product design:

6. Reduce steps whenever possible – but only if it’s worth it

Assuming that users will prioritize certain features over others, we should make getting to those features something super easy and intuitive to do.

In order to accomplish that, we need to examine each app flow and be meticulous when determining how many steps it would take users to carry out a specific action. For that matter, by remembering certain user information (such as name, email or password), keeping a history log or pre-filling forms based on previous inputs, we’d be “saving” steps and making the whole user experience easier.

7. Be transparent: interfaces should speak to their users

Every product has flaws. However, if there’s one thing that should never fail, it would have to be communication. The more precise information we provide our users, the better their experience with our product will be.

Communication is essential to keep users from feeling frustrated. If our users have problems when using our app, it’s highly likely that they will unleash their anger at us or our product, even if the flaw wasn’t really on our end.

For instance, if a device can’t connect to the Internet we should avoid displaying the old “loading” spinner. We should instead let our users know that they aren’t connected to any network, and offer them a way out of that situation.

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8. Generate, use, and reuse patterns

Designing a digital platform means creating a whole new environment, many times with its own language and patterns. When introducing users to this new world, we must certainly stick to our newly created set of rules. Inconsistencies make it impossible for users to understand our app and learn how to use it. But if there is a consolidated language throughout the whole experience, users will know how to interact with the app beforehand, thus avoiding unpleasant surprises. Achieve this to lower your users’ cognitive load.

Take this, for example: if you want to “teach” users that the main action would be shaped as a button located at the bottom of the screen, don’t place the same button (with the same function, as well) at the top. Once again, avoid inconsistencies.

9. Stick to each operating system’s guidelines

Every digital product lives within a fairly familiar environment. The locations where primary actions are displayed, together with all the menus and gestures used to interact with the apps, differ throughout operating systems. Shifting away from those patterns can lead to users having a subpar experience with our product.

Because of this, we must keep in mind how interface elements are distributed in each OS. If, for example, we know that Android users are used to having the Floating Action Button represent the primary action, or the hamburger menu located at the top left, then we should stick to using those spots for these elements.

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10. Avoid dead ends

No flow should lead to a dead end. There’s always something else to ask or suggest. We should humanize our apps, let our products speak for themselves, and avoid blank states — or put them to good use.

We took special care of these situations on the Taringa! Shouts app we designed. If users weren’t following anybody else, the timeline would have no content. So instead of showing a blank screen, we decided to make the app suggest different people to follow, so that user’s would be able to receive content best suited for their needs and preferences. Another typical case would be blogs or news websites. It’s highly likely that you’ll find a “related articles” block at the end of the piece. This is done mainly to try and keep readers from staying on the platform. Keeping users constantly engaged with our product should always be one of our goals.

Conclusion

While designers live creating and using apps, clients tend to have a more distant relationship with the digital world and UX/UI principles. This difference leads to us having to explain and justify every single one of the UX decisions that we make during our work process. An obvious consequence of this are endless back and forth discussions that make using our times effectively almost impossible.

For this reason, we decided to jot down the main principles of our work in order to make the workflow totally transparent. The need to have a shared criteria and reduce communication problems with clients to a minimum led to these 10 commandments.

Being on the same page in terms of design, UI and UX is a must. We need our clients to be allies, just like any other member of our team. Only then we will be able to create products with the best possible user experience.