3 Questions To Test Your UX Design

How well is your UX design serv­ing your customer’s needs?

Larry Marine By Larry Marine from Intuitive Design. Join the discussion » 0 comments

As UX design becomes ever more per­va­sive in the course of run­ning a kick-ass web­site, you need to con­tin­u­al­ly gauge just how well your UX design serves your customer’s needs. A sim­ple test is to ask three basic ques­tions: What’s your UX strat­e­gy? What spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ences are you try­ing to achieve? Just how does your UI design achieve the desired expe­ri­ences?

If your design­er can’t answer the fol­low­ing three basic ques­tions about your site design, then there’s prob­a­bly plen­ty of room for improve­ment.

What’s Your UX Strategy?

Yes, you should have a well-defined UX strat­e­gy. To be hon­est, though, it’s not real­ly a UX strat­e­gy so much as it is a design strat­e­gy.

What does a good strat­e­gy look like? It’s a defin­i­tive state­ment about what the design is intend­ed to achieve, and “to delight the user” is not a strat­e­gy. If some­one tells you his or her design objec­tive is to “delight the user,” find anoth­er design­er. Seri­ous­ly, no kid­ding.

With ProFlow­ers, our user research and analy­sis deter­mined that users didn’t want to buy spe­cif­ic flow­ers, they just need­ed the right bou­quet for a spe­cif­ic occa­sion. The design strat­e­gy for ProFlow­ers was, there­fore, defined as “ProFlow­ers doesn’t sell flow­ers, they sell occa­sions.”

Anoth­er strat­e­gy we devel­oped addressed the FedEx Online Print­ing redesign prob­lem. Soon after FedEx bought Kinko’s it became appar­ent­ly obvi­ous that the two busi­ness mod­els col­lid­ed with each oth­er. FedEx is the mod­el of stan­dard­iza­tion while Kinko’s was known as a mod­el of cus­tomiza­tion, with the mot­to of “Yes, we can.” The strat­e­gy was defined as “empow­er users to cre­ate their own print jobs.”

Those design strate­gies led to iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cif­ic user expe­ri­ence objec­tives and guid­ed all of the sub­se­quent design deci­sions. A good design strat­e­gy not only sug­gests spe­cif­ic design direc­tions, but also helps avoid adding fea­tures and func­tions that don’t fit the design strat­e­gy.

What Experience Are You Trying To Achieve?

Once you have a strat­e­gy, you need to define the spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ences or behav­iors you want to elic­it from your web­site. These will not be glob­al or gen­er­al, such as “to delight the user,” but will be more spe­cif­ic and focus on indi­vid­ual tasks.

One good expe­ri­ence to design for is to make the user feel like they found just the right prod­uct for their needs – “to remove doubt.” Such an expe­ri­ence objec­tive is focused more on the prod­uct selec­tion task, and not so much on the pur­chase task, which will have a sep­a­rate expe­ri­ence objec­tive.

In order to iden­ti­fy the cor­rect tar­get expe­ri­ences, you must first con­duct a user and task analy­sis of the var­i­ous key tasks and sub­tasks that your web­site is intend­ed to sup­port. This will enable you to iden­ti­fy spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ence objec­tives for each user type and their tasks. You can’t accu­rate­ly iden­ti­fy the desired user expe­ri­ences with­out con­duct­ing this user and task analy­sis.

How Does Your UI Achieve The Desired Experience?

Users have expe­ri­ences shaped by the world with which they inter­act. We can’t design expe­ri­ences, but we can design the user’s world to elic­it spe­cif­ic, desired expe­ri­ences.

UX design is real­ly more about elic­it­ing spe­cif­ic user behav­iors through the con­trolled pre­sen­ta­tion of inter­ac­tion objects and con­tent. Accu­rate­ly pre­dict­ing how your users will react to this man­u­fac­tured world to achieve spe­cif­ic results is the hall­mark of a good UX design­er.

For instance, a design­er might sug­gest that a spe­cif­ic set of nav­i­ga­tion and con­trols will incite users to com­plete the prod­uct selec­tion process. They should be able to cite why a left nav­i­ga­tion inter­ac­tion mod­el will prove more suc­cess­ful than a cas­cad­ed menu approach. If usabil­i­ty test­ing proves that to be the case, then the design is a suc­cess.


This approach isn’t just for UX design. These are the same kinds of ques­tions pret­ty much any oth­er design­er (mechan­i­cal engi­neer, archi­tect, etc.) would ask and answer.

  • What should the design do?
  • How should it do it?
  • How do the design ele­ments work togeth­er, specif­i­cal­ly, to achieve the desired objec­tives?

These have been mod­i­fied to bet­ter reflect the con­cerns and objec­tives of the user expe­ri­ence design envi­ron­ment. Look at your site and ask those three ques­tions, and see where it takes you.

Is your design serv­ing your customer’s needs?

Larry Marine

Written by Larry Marine

Director, UX Design, Intuitive Design

Larry Marine earned his degree in User Experience/User Centered Design from the father of UX, Dr. Don Norman. A UX Consultant for 25 years, Larry has created some of the most successful designs on the web, including Proflowers, FedEx Print, and others. His success comes from looking at web interactions very differently, from the user's perspective. His talks, though infrequent, are often some of the most well-attended and reviewed at various conferences. His depth and breadth of experience and knowledge puts him in that rare breed often referred to as a true UX expert.

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