In the grand scheme of life, the universe and everything, probably not… But, when the goal is to make a crazy complicated form as simple as possible, the answer is absolutely. And that my friends, is UX.
UX is the hip acronym for User Experience, a fairly new mindset that is an absolute must when designing and creating online experiences. UX has turned into a bit of a buzzword of recent, but the real meaning should never be wiped away as a fad. It took way too long for the web to realize that more than “cool” matters when it comes to design. (Don’t get me wrong… cool still matters, but usability does too). The online experience needs to make sense, be intuitive, and ultimately serve the user. On a commerce site, the goal is to end in a sale (no secret). So why would you make that a complicated thing to do? The answer is simple: you shouldn’t. The path should be clean, clear, and obvious.
Incorporating UX steps in your creative process can make all the difference. Wire frame mock-ups on chalk boards, wipe boards, print out pictures and lay them out in your space. Use post it notes, crayons, and markers. Use anything you can to make your virtual experience real. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
- Research: Your topic, your problem, the business. Understand what the user will need to “do” with your design. (Login, Check out, etc).
- Design the Process: Use white boards, notebooks, wireframes. User paper mock-ups or programs to mock up the flow of the design before you add visuals.
- Create the Visuals: Make the design attractive, and representative of your brand.
- Test, Test, Test: A website is never done. Test, test, and re-test.
- Evaluate the Results: Learn from key successes and failures. Document the entire process.
- Iterate: Go back to the step 2, and incorporate the “wins.”
So how about that checkbox? In this scenario, we need to establish a clear way for users to accept a series of documents prior to setting up their case. Originally the boxes were small, and below the body of the documents, and set to the right. They seemed hidden, and were placed in a way that a user would have to hunt look for them. This was not ok. I looked around the web, and read a few articles about button placements and sizes. I looked at the conventions, and adapted them for my case. Next, I printed out the current design and started to cut and paste with actual paper. What if the check box was more to the left? More to the right? What if it was huge? I passed off my design to the creative team to get the beauty treatment. And here it is!
The button is big and beautiful, and more importantly, it should be clear and obvious for the user. Now, we sit back and wait for the results…