How To Create A Kick-Ass Product: Great UX Balances Emotion, Efficiency, Power, and Simplicity

This is part 4 in a series about how to create kick-ass software products. You should probably read part 1: Use an Inter-disciplinary process.

What defines a good user experience? For most products, it consists of 4 things:

  • Emotion — Users feel joy and delight from using your product
  • Power — Your product enables users to do complex things
  • Efficiency — Your product allows the user to do things fast
  • Simplicity — Users can easily understand and operate your product

One example of an app we made that combines these characteristics is called Food Radar. At Konsult, we created Food Radar for a client to give people real-time, no-brainer, curated food recommendations during the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

The main focus of Food Radar was simplicity: if you’re near a recommended restraurant, and it’s mealtime, you get a notification on your phone.

We wanted users to make a decision fast, instead of experience choice-paralysis that’s common to yelpers. We only presented the most vital information: one restaurant, food pictures, location, opening hours, and what makes this restaurant special. This allowed the user to decide with better efficiency than a traditional recommendation system.

With a bright and high contrast palette, Food Radar evokes emotions to communicate the importance of the information it’s displaying. Red, the color of urgency, is used for a nearby restaurant, since the recommendation is immediately useful to the user. Blue, a calm color, is used for slightly far restaurants, because the user may or may not be interested in relocating for food.

Lastly, Food Radar needed be flexible enough for power users to rely on it for all their meals throughout the World Cup. The app allowed the user to see a map of all recommendations, so they can pinpoint the ones they haven’t tried, and the entire app functions offline so they don’t need to have data or open another navigation app.

However, there are times where a joyful, powerful, efficient, and simple product is not neccessarily the pinnacle of good UX. Which characteristics contribute to good UX depend a lot on your users’ needs.

Not all products should evoke joy.
Which emotions are appropriate depends on the users’ needs.

A client of Konsult wanted to help family members of a deceased person in hospice care. Someone is told that their loved one has died, then has a very limited time to find a cremation service. These people are shocked, emotionally compromised, and usually financially struggling. We needed to design for a vital function in a sensitive environment. These are the traits we want our product to have:

  • Emotionless — Grief should be addressed. But the purpose of our product was to help users make a decision as fast as possible, so it would be unproductive to evoke their emotions. This meant that our design had to stay minimalistic and with a neutral palette, avoiding any imagery that might hold unexpected meaning to the user.
  • Simple — One person told us “I literally had the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.” We needed to hand-hold the user and help them make a choice with as few steps in between as possible. This meant that the primary action has to be extremely clear, and all unneccessary levers should be removed. This meant no power user features such as sorting or searching.

Because of our users’ emotional state, we decided that the best design should be neutral and simple.

We refrained from power features and strong emotions to create a smooth experience for grieving users.

A product can also take an unconventional direction in emotion, power, efficiency, or simplicity to capture untapped user demographics. StoqUp is one of Konsult’s projects where our client wanted to challenge the conventional perception of the stock market. Traditional stock apps are serious investment tools that focus on monetary gain and personal wealth. StoqUp aims to be a collaborative learning environment, where it tracks your understanding of the market over time, and friends can collaborate and compete against each other. It’s like a wellness tracking app, but for your knowledge of stocks.

To break the mold of traditional stock apps, we used soothing colors, fluid animations, and graphs instead of numbers to convey a casual and inviting environment.

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