Reinventing The Intuitive User Experience

Sketched wireframes in color.

If the term ‘intuitive’ is beginning to sound like the mantra of UX, you aren’t alone. Technology has become a staple of our lives – like air or water for some. Many businesses, and for better or worse, individuals – seemingly couldn’t exist without the advances we see today. Making the experience of technology – whether it be a digital interface or tangible device, integrate seamlessly into our lives has become a necessary aspect. A cumbersome site or gadget simply will not make the cut.

Because creating a product that is seen as ‘intuitive’ is the holy grail of user experience, it has become increasingly overused and formulaic. The problem is, designing for intuition is not a one size fits all approach. This overuse has produced less than ideal results and in turn – failed projects, products and companies.

Designing for intuition, at the core, is about understanding what a user’s needs are and making that pathway available to them without their having to think about it. The whole process should feel effortless. Delivering this ‘ease of use’ however, takes a great deal of backend work that won’t come overnight if done right.

An intuitive user experience doesn’t exist without the user – so it’s critical to involve them in the process – understanding who they are and what drives them. Conducting user and competitive research – not simply gathering analytics, but getting into the field, engaging with the ideal user – and applying these findings to the initial phase of design is a non-negotiable process. Data is a big part of gathering the information needed, however, in a project’s infancy, a more humanistic approach may be applied to obtain the most integral information that will drive usability.

From color to the removal of technical jargon – if there’s any time to tap into a simplistic design approach, it’s when looking to achieve an intuitive design. Any unnecessary intricacies should be removed and only the most task based and informational cues should remain. This does not mean ridding the interface of character, but paring down to the clearest typrography, iconography and color that create union between the brand and the interface design. Coming at the design from a feature or task based standpoint as opposed to a content strategy angle will help to ensure the user can get their ultimate needs met.

Design itself should be a fluid process, ideas and implementations come from a creative place rather than analytic, but it’s best to create an design thats based on both the left and right brain side of design and reasoning. The design might be exquisite, however, in the end, the only way to really measure it’s usability is by testing or letting it into the wild for users to uncover it’s successes and failures. As always, design is an iterative process and ongoing versioning, tweaking and editing are critical to an optimized product.