Design Thinking for User Experience? Apps-olutely
May 7, 2019 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

Design Thinking for User Experience? Apps-olutelyA user interface is arguably the most important part of the app experience. Whether someone is playing a game, shopping for clothes, counting steps, or using any of the other millions of apps currently available, if it’s not easy to use, they will rapidly delete it and move on.

That means getting users to download your app is no guarantee of success.

Consumers today expect every app to deliver the same delight and ease of use they experience with Amazon Prime, Instagram, or Candy Crush. Unfortunately, many apps don’t deliver.

A Localytics study found almost one in four mobile users abandon an app after a single use if it doesn’t immediately meet their needs. And 62 percent will use an app less than 11 times before making space for something new.

Even in the most popular app sectors — media & entertainment — the median stickiness of an app is only 8.8 percent, which translates to less than three days of activity per month.

This means app developers have a very small window to delight and engage consumers if they want their app to stick around.

How can they make that happen? By using design thinking.

Design thinking is a problem solving strategy that is all about putting users at the center of every design decision. So it only makes sense that if you are creating a user experience (UX), involving users in the design process is the best — and arguably only — approach to getting it right.

Design teams that have been trained in the art of design thinking, understand how to engage with customers, to ask the right questions, and to factor the insights of all customers — even the extreme users — into the design process. They also understand the value of returning to customers repeatedly to share prototypes, gather feedback, and iterate from there.

It sounds time-consuming, right? It’s not. While spending time with customers throughout the design lifecycle does add a few days here and there, it’s a whole lot less time consuming than fixing bad designs once they are finished.

Imagine, for example, that you have a great idea for using custom icons in your UX design that you are certain your customer will love. You can either:

  1. Immediately get to work designing your vision in the isolated comfort of your dev department along with a handful of other designers.

  2. Draw your vision on a series of sticky notes then head out into the real world to test the idea with your target audience.

Now, let’s say that despite your brilliant vision, customers don’t get it. The buttons are awkward, or in the wrong place, or they just don’t jive with their concept of what a UX should be. Group A just spent weeks or months building something that now needs to be replaced, while group B learned the same lesson in less than an hour before every writing a line of code.

If you’re thinking to yourself “that would never happen to my team” here’s the data to prove otherwise. According to the latest Chaos Report, almost a third of all IT projects will be cancelled before they ever get completed, and more than half will cost 189% of their original estimates — in part due to mistakes that need to be fixed.

We’ve seen dozens of development teams who’ve been able to shift course at the outset of the project, because they took the time to meet with users, develop empathy for their needs, and adapt their design accordingly.

The impact of these efforts can be significant. One study found that teams using design thinking cut the time required for initial design and alignment by 75%, and cut design defects in half.

It’s easy to think you know what your customers want, but taking the time to actually talk to them and to let them tell you what they want, will always delivers a better product. In an industry where competition is constant and success is fleeting, doesn’t it make sense to do whatever you can to build something people will actually want to use? Design thinking will help you figure out exactly what that is.


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