5 Tips for creating a “WOW UX”

And what does it mean?

First of all, let me explain what I mean by “Wow UX”. I started designing UX as a part of a UX team in a big enterprise. This meant there wasn’t much of a competition. But as I started working in a design studio who’s working with external clients, I was in an absolute panic. I realized a client is paying for every hour I work, and everything has to be unique, and perfect, and breathtaking, or else the client will be disappointed, the studio will collapse and the world will probably end.

About two weeks after my little panic attack, I calmed down, thought about it and understood — I need to create a UX design that will suit the client’s needs and be as unique as it can be, that will blow the client’s mind. Or — Will Obviously Work UX (Of course, I’m kidding, but I’m a huge fan of making acronyms).

Is this picture the best design work I’ve ever done? Probably.

There are tons of tips, rules and lessons out there on creating a great and an amazing UX. As a UX designer I try hard to follow the rules and create a “Textbook UX”, and I think that’s a good basis. I also think people tend to get bored from “Textbook [stuff]”. So, In order to create a “Wow UX”, I’m not going to suggest breaking all the rules, but I do think you should know your way of bending and navigating between the basic rules of UX and your personal interpretations of those rules.

And because we’re talking about basic rules and how to bend them, let me start by quoting one of the most important things I think creative people need to know:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”
Pablo Picasso

Great, after we covered all the warnings and disclaimers, let’s get to the tips:

1. Listen to the client

I know, it’s basic and pretty obvious, but the most important thing I think you need to know is what the client expects, what are her/his preferences, and what tweaks will blow her/his mind. When I say client I refer to any person you talk to when you plan your design — It can be an entrepreneur, a CEO, a product manager, or a user. By listening, I don’t mean listen to the functionality that the system needs to have, I mean listen to what will make the person who sees your design eventually say “Damn, that’s tailor made for me!”. And this leads me to…

2. Know what the clients wants to see

This tip is about selling your design, and Jon Moore did it better than me here:

What I want to add to this wonderful article is the less formal kind of selling. Get to know the person you’re selling your design to. Does this person like video-games, for instance? Get some video-games references and examples. Does this person hate social networks? Get the hell away from “this is like Facebook’s feed” kind of explanation. Also, know the type of communication the client prefers — formal, non-formal? Create a good user experience to your whole process.

3. Jobs-to-be-Done and Design Thinking

I recently read “Intercom On Jobs-to-be-Done”. I saw it contains about 100 pages and thought “Hell no. I’m just gonna slide along these pages and read the titles”. It didn’t took me so long to understand there’s no way I’m missing a single page on this book (Come on, try it). In a nutshell, this approach is saying there’s a big picture we need to look at. Our user needs a problem to be solved one way or another, and we need to understand the true need in order to give a good solution. We get to the need by asking a lot of “Why?”s. For instance, I need a hammer. Why? to hammer a nail. Why? hang a picture. Why? make my home more “homey”. Alright. Make my home more “homey”? What about a nice sofa? That would do the job (of course, much more expensive, but you get the hang of it). Sometimes the obvious solution isn’t answering the real problem, just a little part of it. By knowing what the user really needs, you can go crazy with your solution and hit the spot. Just for fun: try to think about the apps you’re using and what is the true need they satisfy.

4. Take everything out and use only what you really need

This tip is useful both for designers and for people who moved to a really small apartment (and if you’re designers who live in a small apartment, like me, you just hit the jackpot! Yay!). I will use one of my favorite cheesy quotes:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Most of the time, people use a service in order to get a specific job done, and there is often a pretty similar user story to most of the users. So, why don’t you make that job really easy to get done? What I suggest is taking all of the components out, and then focus on the really important thing to do. Not a very unique example, but think about Tinder, for example. There isn’t much complexity in the main interface — you open the app, you see a woman or a man, you respond. You don’t waste your time on other stuff, unless you really want to. That was really revolutionary!

Don’t get me wrong, don’t create an app without a menu, because it hurts your amazing design. I’m saying — focus on the really important stuff and make it the most accessible thing on the screen. Make the users waste their precious 2 seconds on finding the settings, not the main attraction.

5. Is this the best you can do?

Like every creative process, iterations are needed. After you tailor made your design to the specific user and product manager, understood the real problem and solved it in a minimalistic and creative way, get away from your work, go for a walk, watch some cute cats on YouTube, take a shower (although it might not be appropriate during work hours), and think about the problem again. Is your solution the best solution there is? What made me ask myself this question was, frankly, the fear of disappointing my clients and my team. They chose us for a reason, and I have to show them we’re worth it. I must say it started as a paralyzing thought, but soon became a huge motivation boost.

In conclusion

These are my tips for what I call a “Wow UX”. If I have to TL;DR these tips (which I don’t. I do this because I want to!), I would say: Make sure you understand exactly what you need to design and why.

Do you have any specific “Wow UX” tips? Let me know in the comments.

Bonus tip:

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