UX-Design or how to develop compelling user interfaces

Learn how to develop better user interfaces with User Experience Design (short UX Design)! First of all, we will outline the history of user interfaces up to the present day and clarify basic concepts such as UI design, user experience and UX strategy. Last but not least, you will receive a step-by-step guide on how to develop good user interfaces and explain how much time you should invest. 

The history of user interfaces. Welcome to the age of UX strategy!

What was it like with user interfaces in the past? Requirements for user interfaces (UIs) and the way they are developed have changed significantly over the past few years. In short, we have evolved from completely cluttered UIs to simple and self-explanatory UIs. The background to this is the shift from a product-centric to a user-centric model. 

Today, the focus is on people as users. It is not the person who has to "somehow get along" with the user interface, but the product must be useful to the user. The user must meet needs, requirements and achieve his tasks and goals. In the best case, work must be easy and fun. But why are user interfaces so important?

On the one hand, user interfaces are the first visible feature of a product, but they are also a decisive product feature because they contribute significantly to user experience (UX) and satisfaction. 

Today, user interfaces are one of the decisive factors when evaluating software solutions, products or control elements (displays). The UI is often the most important factor for deciding whether products are purchased or not. As you know: there is no 2nd chance for a 1st impression. You may know the situation when you did not find the right ticket at the ticket machine and have broken out in a sweat. Maybe, with effort, you still caught the train. This negative feeling in connection with buying a ticket will remain the next time you need to use this wending machine and its bad designed user interface.

And this is true for every user interface today, no matter if it is a ticket machine, smartphone app, construction machines, machine tools or even the latest AI application! Including the user, focus is independent of the industry. At least that is our opinion.

In addition, today's users of the Y and Z generation expect user-friendliness similar to that of a smartphone or tablet - also in the B2B area and its applications. Face up to this claim that all your software or hardware products can be used just like a smartphone or tablet. Your customers and users will pay you back when they have more fun working with attractive and intuitively designed UIs. 

Rethink user interface and develop radically user-centred.

The development of user interfaces over time in the past and today

This user-centric view will change the development process. This requires new processes that focus on the user perspective. Thus, a few years ago, processes emerged that improved the development of new products and provided the impetus for strategic orientation. 

UX Research first! Create a basis for decision-making

But why should user-centered thinking inform business strategy? Clearly - because it provides a scientific basis for decision-making across the organization! Do we need a new employee? Do we need a new tool for our customer processes? Do we develop our software with such and such features? All of these questions can be answered by gathering data and information, interviewing affected individuals, systematizing the feedback process (feedback) to test alternative solutions.  Remains to be said: UX design is nothing more than repeating this cycle of user research, prototypical solutions, testing, data collection as often as necessary.

From our point of view, we have entered the UX strategy age. Not only apps, software solutions, controls, etc. should be oriented to user needs, but also internal and customer-oriented processes. Our appeal: Anchor this minimum in your company. You will very quickly receive positive feedback from your customers and colleagues.   

What is UX design and what benefits do you get from it?

Wir haben bereits einige Vorteile von UX Design angerissen, um es prägnant zusammenzufassen:

  1. 1The development process for user interfaces is streamlined and you save immense costs. You standardize certain processes and develop a design system that makes your work much easier.
  2. 2You develop products and features that are really needed
  3. 3You establish a scientific foundation for decisions of different kinds
  4. 4Your product will be chosen more frequently if it has the best user experience on the market

We don't assume you know everything about user-centric product development. Every organization is at a different UX level! That's why we want to familiarize you with a few basic concepts - you know: the ones we care about most!

UI Design: Why we groan when we have to work with bad UIs

You know what it's like: you find user interfaces (UIs) bad because you can't find your way around, you can hardly use the product and it takes you too long to understand the user interface (UI). As a result, you do not enjoy working with the product and rate your experience with the product as negative. The usability, that is, the usability fails. Unusable products are the result of user needs that have not been taken into account. A user-centred process that prevents this would be UX design.  Please don't confuse these two terms: UX design and UI design, because they are completely different things! So, UI design is a sub-process of UX design. 

In UI design, graphical components and elements, such as buttons, the arrangement of navigation are created. Since it is the first element that the user perceives we attribute such an exposed role to UI. But you may wonder how to get there and what is needed to arrange e.g. good navigation or create attractive buttons. That's what the UX design process is for: Using various UX design methods, UX designers define interactions between humans and machines and design models for user interfaces.

What is UX and UI Design?

UX Design: The Only Way to Develop Really Good User Interfaces

User Experience Design is a fairly new discipline in product development. The user experience, the user and his requirements are the focus of interest and product development. This is also referred to as user-centred design. In a UX design process, one combines various tools from user-centred product development, for example:

Your benefit: You get to know users as well as their needs. Based on this, you develop prototypes and test, test, test. In focus: get maximum knowledge, minimize waste of resources like development capacities and achieve maximum user experience. You see, UX design is field study-based. It's a rewarding, empirical, and scientific way to redesign and develop products because you're relying on validated results. 

Any UI can be good if it has user experience as a top priority

Have you ever heard the following excuse: "Our product is hard to use because it is so complicated"? Then the question inevitably arises: can the user interface help make the product less complicated? This is exactly where the art of simply convincing user interfaces lies. They only come about through the claim to offer customers the best user experience. For the user, a good user experience does not start with the thought: "This product is complicated" but "Wow! This product helps me to solve my task in a structured way and without having to think too much. The user interface guides me and it knows what I want."

Good user experience often remains invisible – unless it is missing!

The basis for a good user experience is high goals. Don't settle for a bumpy user experience. You will soon find that your customers and users prefer to work with your products and solutions than with those of your competitors. 

So where do we start? Methodology for simply convincing user interfaces

One thing in advance - no (UX) professional has fallen from the sky yet. We believe: UX is learnable and teachable. You don't need to be a UX designer, have studied interaction design or have gone through the 10th agile coaching. First, you need the confidence that users will give you valuable information about how you want your products to look. Put the user at the center of your application. Even if it's hard, get used to this image! The more complex your product is, the more important it is to address user experience.  Remains to tell you - we are happy to help you help yourself with our UX design workshop!

Always keep the scientific background in mind!

Use the time to become clear which processes you need and also which possibilities there are to work in a user-centric way. To do this, it is worth taking a close look at scientific tools such as the ISO 9241 standard. Here you get conventions for the development of user interfaces. These have been collected scientifically over the years and anchored in the international ISO standard. It is worthwhile to take a look at the "Development of interactive patterns" part of the standard. Your advantage: If you get stuck on how to proceed, no matter if from process side or if you want to map a specific interaction: Don't reinvent the wheel, because there are standardized patterns that will help you.

Hier ein kurze methodische Anleitung für nutzerzentrierte User Interfaces 

  1. 1Develop a UX Strategy
  2. 2Fulfill the needs of your users
  3. 3Find allies and communicate the return on investment directly
  4. 4Evaluate, test, innovate – dare to be unconventional sometimes
  5. 5Invest time, reflect and optimize your processes

1. Develop a UX strategy

Look at the topic of user interfaces development strategically! Ask the question: what needs to happen for us to be user-centric and develop good products and user interfaces? Do you need a clear structure in development? Do you need a common mindset? Do you need certain skills in the team that are not yet present? Do you need a design system that creates a basis for communication? Or do you need convincing arguments for your stakeholders to invest in UX strategy, UX design and good user interfaces?  You see: To leverage UX design, you won't be able to avoid thinking about how to strategically position your team for it.

2. Meet the needs of your users

Gather information and data about how your applications are being used. The best way to do this is before you start developing or optimizing the product: find out what your users' problem is, what they want, expect, would be willing to try, etc. The more information you get, the easier it will be to develop features that are highly relevant and give great value to users. 

1. Develop a UX strategy

Look at the topic of user interfaces development strategically! Ask the question: what needs to happen for us to be user-centric and develop good products and user interfaces? Do you need a clear structure in development? Do you need a common mindset? Do you need certain skills in the team that are not yet present? Do you need a design system that creates a basis for communication? Or do you need convincing arguments for your stakeholders to invest in UX strategy, UX design and good user interfaces?  You see: To leverage UX design, you won't be able to avoid thinking about how to strategically position your team for it.

2. Meet the needs of your users

Gather information and data about how your applications are being used. The best way to do this is before you start developing or optimizing the product: find out what your users' problem is, what they want, expect, would be willing to try, etc. The more information you get, the easier it will be to develop features that are highly relevant and give great value to users. 

3. Collaborate & communicate

User-centeredness is difficult to achieve alone. Get colleagues on board to support you. Involve opinions and departments, ask acquaintances if they can give you feedback from a user perspective. Trust the following thesis: "User-centeredness in the company has a high return on investment (ROI)": Well-designed user interfaces and a high user experience of your products promote sales, improve satisfaction and recommendations, and save resources for support and maintenance. Don't get tired of communicating these benefits to customers, users and colleagues. This will help you pursue your vision with colleagues, customers and partners.

4. Evaluate, test, innovate - it's a process

Try out the chosen solutions prototypically. No matter how crazy or unconventional solutions may sound. User interfaces- (UIs) should not be one-size-fits-all. Be the pioneer of good UIs in your industry. Make good user experience your hallmark and flagship innovation. Re-think your user interface and don't be afraid to do everything differently or at least try it out. Don't start implementation right away, but test your ideas extensively, keeping an open mind and testing many different ideas, no matter who they come from. Give a voice to everyone who can contribute their experience and expertise in the product development process. This is how you create real innovation.

5. Good interfaces take time and good processes

Take your time, define processes or adapt existing ones. The most important thing is to follow your vision of good user interfaces. Also be prepared for this: You do UX interviews, but don't get any useful feedback. Then we advise moving to "shadowing" (accompany the user in his familiar environment with the product). Test different UX methods and evaluate the outcome. Nothing is set in stone. Give yourself the freedom to try out some methods to iteratively develop the appropriate processes. Keep the (design) artefacts from each iteration. Visualize how far you have come and shared that with the team. Celebrating successes is also part of our UX processes!

Estimate the design time for a good user interface

You might ask yourself - all well and good, but how long does it take or what expenses do I have to calculate for the development of simply convincing user interfaces? We would like to show you how long you should calculate for a good UX design in a first iteration. Always remember - the time you allow for development depends directly on how important the project or product is to you. If you decide to rethink your user interface and evolve it with UX design or design a completely new user interface, you should plan around 80 hours to get to a first iteration. Of course, this is also an average value that depends on the scope of the application.

Below you will find some average times from the projects we have completed

  • 7 hours - workshop scope and synthesis 

  • 3 hours ideation

  • 10 hours - Concept development and user feedback planning

  • 20 User feedback gathering

  • 20 hours Prototyping

  • 20 hours Validation

Interesting Studies and Articles

Benefits of UX Design and Return on Investment

UX Strategy

UX Design and Software Engineering

UX Design with interfacewerk

I hope we have succeeded in providing you with useful and interesting information on the topic of UX design and the like. Are you convinced that UX design can make things easier for you? We believe in simply convincing user interfaces and their benefits for users and manufacturers. And we don't just write - we also speak - plain language! Arrange a meeting with us - you describe your challenge, we show you how UX design will help you. We uncover the weaknesses in the user experience of your products and show you ways to solve them. 

Your benefit - you get from us

  1. 1All you need to know about UX Design and concrete steps for your individual UX journey
  2. 2A step by step guide: how to implement UX-Design in your team or corporate

Sebastian Ullherr

Managing Partner

Do you want to develop a digital product? Are you at the beginning and have a vague idea how your app/platform/tool/software should look like? Or do you want to give an existing software a better user experience? Share your challenge with us!