User experience could be summed up as ‘pleasanting’. Making an experience easier, quicker, smoother, more pleasant.
That means working on your user experience can build positive sentiment consciously or subconsciously in your users.
It’s like going to a restaurant and everything just WORKS – but also, the little finishing touches are there. The napkins are linen, there’s hand cream in the toilets and your waiter pulls out your chair at just the right moment. That’s user experience.
Important UX factors for positive sentiment
When’s all said and done, what your user wants from you most is ease of use. That’s why we study user experience.
So, a particularly important thing to make sure you nail in your user experience is consistency. Give your user what they’re expecting, by being psychotically consistent in your own UX and staying reasonably in-line with their operating system (native design).
1. Brand consistency
Think about and document how you use words, typefaces, buttons and nomenclature. Use a particular colour for actions, another for calling out stats. This stuff is so subtle but it works on a user’s deep lizard brain.
You need to make sure your app matches your website, matches your print, matches your bloomin’ PENS. Consistency is a brand manager’s bread and butter.
It’s a fact that repetition (and therefore consistency) is a major way to get through to people. We fear it might get boring; no – no one is paying enough attention to your business for it to get boring! Sorry, but also: phew.
2. Native consistency
Some user experience within your apps also needs to be consistent with a user’s native experience. If they’re used to how Apple does buttons, give them Apple’s buttons.
Although I would advise relying on this, Apple or Google or whoever are guaranteed to have spent more on their user experience testing than you. So, when it comes to a decision between falling in with native design or going your own way…maybe stick to what your users are used to.
3. Market consistency
Much as it may pain us, we can’t risk being too far outside of the norm for user experience in our markets. Trends come and go in user experience, like anything else, but some tried and tested rules are worth adhering to.
Take TikTok, my new social media obsession. They’ve basically combined Vine and Instagram to come up with a new obsession for Gen Z. Grid formation profiles – tick. Endless scrolling – tick. Exact same navigation?! Tick.
4. Intelligent inconsistency
But, but! Didn’t I just go on and on about consistency? Yes, but that consistency depends on context. You can’t say ‘We make any link a button’ because there are different reasons for linking. That holds true for most things; you can be obsessive about consistency, but there will always be very sensible reasons to defer to context.
“What matters on the Web is whether, on each individual page, the user can quickly and easily advance the next step in the process. At Creative Good, we call it ‘intelligent inconsistency’: making sure that each page in the process gives users exactly what they need at that point in the process. Adding superfluous nav elements, just because they’re consistent with the rest of the site, is just silly.
Mark Hurst, founder of Creative Good
The little finishing touches that make a user experience come to life – things a user may not be able to – LOL – put their fingers on.
I laugh because I’m thinking of one particular aspect of user experience: haptics. Haptics are the psychical feedback effects you get from your phone – the taps, buzzes and other nearly-subconscious bits of sensation that tell you you’re doing the right thing.
Think of turning up a smart meter a few notches. The blip-blip-blip tells you your task is complete. That sensation feedback is subtle, useful – and powerful.
Animation is another subtle user experience joybomb. Apps obviously need to stay as small as possible or they’ll be slow – or even get deleted. So we’re not talking heavy animation.
To go along with lovely haptics, little glows and bounces give the user feedback. I particularly like animation on load, like objects individually animating as a new page loads. Some of this is a user experience trick to make that load wait seem acceptable, but sometimes it’s just a NICE THING.
User experience is all about leaving a user feeling satisfied
Partly because your app or website was delightful, but mostly because it worked. Buttons were clear, navigation was simple, data entry was easy.
Get the basics of user experience right and you’re already well to your way to positive sentiment.