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23 UX Design Tips for 2023

James Ardis
Sketching UX for application in a notebook with a pen

2023 will be the most competitive year in recent memory for companies looking to earn customers’ time and hard-earned money with digital products. Consumers have been reminded for months about a looming recession, and no one needs to remind them that inflation has decreased the power of their dollar. 

Yet, there are still opportunities for companies and the applications they are developing. Forrester predicts that despite the factors listed above, consumer spending will increase by 5% in 2023. Customers will be more strategic spenders than in previous years, but there is still an opening for products that offer easy ways to address consumer pain points.

As user experience (UX) designers, you’ll play an important role in ensuring your company’s products stand out to consumers in 2023’s crowded market. Development teams will look to you to understand what the user will find intuitive, vital, frustrating, and liberating. UX designers will also have to thread the needle between users’ needs and their organization’s business goals.  

The role of the UX designer will also evolve in relation to employee-facing software this year. As employees work to innovate in a volatile market, the platforms they work with should be stress-free and offer enriching experiences.  

Below, you’ll find 23 UX design tips to help you navigate digital product development and modernization in 2023. Read on to learn how UX designers like you can be even more effective this year. 

Tip #1: Become Customer Advocates 

Many companies are embracing the term “customer-obsessed,” knowing that consumers expect digital products to directly reflect their wants and needs. While something of a buzzword at this point, companies that effectively leverage a customer-obsessed mindset see 2.5 times more revenue growth. 

Female customer enjoying intuitive UX experience while checking out at store

 

However, it’s often hard to have real-world customers in the room throughout product and feature development. That’s where UX designers step in. Far from just making things look pretty, you are the on-staff expert who is most deeply aware of the product’s target audience and those users’ needs. 

In every development meeting, take on the role of the customer advocate. When you feel like changes to the product could negatively impact user outcomes or their overall enjoyment of the platform, make your voice heard and offer more user-oriented solutions.  

Tip #2: Use All the Tools Necessary to Understand Customers 

To be the best ambassadors for customers’ and employees’ needs, UX designers should craft user personas. You can also create user journey maps, which demonstrate how a user solves their problems on the platform, and empathy maps, which outline how users will feel as they navigate the platform.

Although the benefits of user personas are widely known, many organizations are just beginning to adopt them into their development process. Only 36% of customer experience experts told Gartner that they’d used personas in their current form for at least three years. 

As a leader in user experience at your company, you may need to encourage your development teams to create empathy maps or more robust user personas. Ensure you have all the information about the target user you need before development proceeds. 

Application store displaying competitors for a customer

Tip #3: Consider the Market for Your Team’s Product  

While customer and employee obsession are crucial, you need a broader view of the market and your organization’s key competitors to stand out in 2023. UX teams should conduct market research to understand the standard conventions for products like yours. Plus, you should look for ways in which these conventions actually prevent users from completing their tasks most effectively.

Tip #4: Know What to Change and What to Keep the Same 

While standing out from the competition is important, change isn’t always good. Your users have been navigating digital products for decades and will likely expect certain features, such as the save function in a writing tool, to appear in a particular place. Use the prototype testing phase to learn what tried-and-true UX design features users rely on, and which ones have secretly been holding them back. 

Tip #5: Have Consistent User Experience Across Platforms 

Here’s one thing not to change: As we discussed in our blog post on Nielsen’s Ten Heuristics, there should be a similar UX design across all your digital products. That way, an employee or customer used to one of your platforms can easily adapt to a new one. 

Displaying the nearly identical UX of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint

Consider Microsoft’s products, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Each has a similar interface, allowing users to quickly feel at home in the Microsoft ecosystem. This also encourages users to continue using Microsoft’s systems, as they’ve grown more familiar with how they operate than competitors’ offerings. 

Tip #6: Advocate for UX’s Involvement at Every Stage 

UX teams need to be involved at every step to ensure products fully satisfy users’ needs. However, many organizations only focus on UX at early stages of development.

Your company may need help understanding the long-term benefits of keeping UX designers on past the prototype phase. As we mentioned in UX design tip #2, you’ll need to take on a leadership role and articulate how a robust UX approach can boost brand reputation, efficiency, and customer loyalty.

Tip #7: Think Beyond Functional  

It is easy for organizations to settle for UX that is simply functional. If users can eventually find what they are looking for and the overall layout is pleasant to look at, then these companies think their UX work is done. However, this mindset can have long-term negative impacts. 

For employee-facing systems, simply “functional” UX will limit productivity and make users less enthusiastic about completing their tasks on the platform. Meanwhile, for customer-facing systems, settling for functional means that customers will have little reason to choose your products over the competition. 

This could prove particularly devastating in 2023 when rising inflation and fears of a recession mean that consumers will be more selective than ever on their purchases. Forrester projects a modest increase in consumer spending this year but warns that buyers will be “seeking out fewer, richer experiences.” 

To take your UX to the next level, conduct user research and discover how you can provide employees and customers with meaningful experiences inside intuitive and eye-catching applications. This will help you earn customers’ attention even in a crowded market and provide employees with a work experience that resonates with them. 

Tip #8: Begin with a Macro-Level View 

“Are we connecting these two pages intuitively?” “Should this button appear here or there?” User experience design can often get mired in technicalities. However, it’s important that you begin by looking at the bigger picture.

Consider your target user and their needs. Then, connect those needs with your organization’s business goals for the application. Once you have a firm grasp of the big picture, many of the answers to these micro-level questions will be clearer. 

Sketching UX for application in a notebook

Tip #9: Choose the Ideation Process That Works for You 

In 2023, there are plenty of high-tech ways to begin designing and organizing the flow of your new digital product. That includes wireframing the design on a fancy digital platform. However, you may still enjoy the low-tech solution of taking pen to paper and sketching out your ideas. 

Embrace whichever drafting method works best for you, whether it is high-end wireframing or logging off the computer for a while to sketch out your ideas. 

Tip #10: Embrace Prototype Testing 

Once your team completes a high-fidelity prototype, it’s important to take plenty of time to see how intuitive the design and flow are for real-world users. This is a crucial opportunity to confirm if users can easily navigate the application and complete their tasks. 

As Hubspot mentions, development teams will benefit from prototype testing long afterward. “Developers don’t have to overhaul the code of a poorly designed product that’s already built, and the product team is more likely to release it on schedule.”

Female user pointing at issue with UX to male employee

Tip #11: Extrapolate from Users’ Feedback on Prototypes 

Browsing social media in 2023, it’s easy to think people always speak their minds. However, that may not always be the case when you receive user feedback. Some people may be more forthcoming about their feelings about a prototype than others. If you’re collecting feedback from users live, ask them some follow-up questions, so they can elaborate on their feelings or clarify vague statements. 

In other cases, you may be looking at feedback submitted via email, social media, or a portal. In these cases, you may need to extrapolate how a user feels from unclear statements. Remember that users will be less knowledgeable about UX than you, so you may need to “translate” their feedback into action items to improve design and navigation.  

Tip #12: Make Certain Features “Pop” to Make Completing Actions Intuitive 

Have you ever seen a button so tempting you just had to push it? Creating buttons and forms that “pop,” or noticeably stand out from the other assets, can help you guide users toward the actions you want them to take. For example, a very satisfying “Add to Cart” button can encourage customers on an e-commerce platform to take the next step in their purchasing journey.

Small shopping cart in front of yellow background

Tip #13: Prioritize Accessibility 

Many developers and designers subconsciously create applications with people like themselves in mind. However, it’s crucial to consider the needs of individuals with disabilities that limit their hearing, vision, movement, and more.   

A recent study found that 65% of free iOS applications met or exceeded accessibility standards. That indicates making accessible digital experiences is not only the right thing to do morally but is also crucial to keeping up with your competitors. 

Tip #14: Stay Involved Even After Prototype Handoff 

At some point, it’ll be time to turn your designs into digital products. You will hand off your prototypes to development teams that will begin making them a reality in agile sprints. However, that does not mean your job as a UX designer on this initiative is done. 

There will still be important UX decisions to make as technical limitations and changing user needs emerge. Ensure you or another representative from the UX team are available to consult with developers during this pivotal time. 

Tip #15: Make the Most Out of the UX Audit 

Once the digital product is ready for deployment, one of the last things to check off the list is the UX audit. Far from an afterthought, this is a time in which you can ensure that the final product meets all of the targeted user’s needs. 

It is also a crucial time to double-check that the application is as accessible as possible and that user concerns brought up during the prototype phase were accurately remedied. While everyone involved would love to just deploy the product already, giving yourself all the time and resources you need is important. 

Two female employees collaborating at a table with laptop and notebook

Tip #16: Don’t Go It Alone 

With increased competition for limited consumer spending, organizations will need all the insights and experts they can afford in 2023. Consider bringing on a service provider to support your UX team. That way, you can leverage the unique skillsets of a wider range of experts and lighten the load on your internal team. 

At Programmers, our patented Agile Experience process ensures you have the right teams, tools, coaching, and agile methods to deploy a high-quality product centered around your business needs. 

Tip #17: Create Ways for Customers to Recommend Your Platform to Others 

Have you ever started using an application and almost instantly been asked to rate and review it? You probably were not thrilled. Applications often ask for you to spread the word without earning that level of loyalty. 

However, having followed UX design tips 1-16, your organization has now shipped a system that resonates with users. That’s why it’s important to give customers a way to tell others about the product. This could be a rate and review system, a button that allows users to share content across social media, or many other alternatives. Just make sure these features are unobtrusive and users do not have to engage with them until they are ready to publicly endorse your product.  

Tip #18: Make UX a Priority in Modernization 

There are many different ways to modernize legacy applications, such as cloud migration, cleaning code, and integrating systems. However, one way that often goes overlooked is updating the UX of your legacy systems. As your organization looks for ways to make its applications more appealing for customers and helpful for employees in 2023, advocate for a UX-oriented modernization approach. 

Tip #19: Assess Your Overall UX Success

As your organization modernizes the UX of its legacy systems, it will also be helpful to get an overhead view of the user experience across all your applications. That way, you can spot issues that slid under the radar. 

More importantly, this overall assessment allows your teams to get an idea of the effectiveness of their UX processes broadly. Is your organization in the best position possible to create a high-quality user experience every time or is there a component that is consistently coming up short? Answering this question can help your company avoid problems and costly rebuilds down the road.  

Tip #20: Listen in on Social Media for Customers Requesting Help

How can you tell that outdated applications and sub-par UX are dragging down efficiency and brand reputation? One of the first signs frustrated customers will give you is going online and asking other users for help.

Listen to brand mentions on social media and see if customers are asking each other for help finding the functions they need. For employee-facing systems, keep an eye on company or department-wide chats or directly ask for feedback every few months. 

Then, bring this information to your development teams and brainstorm ways to remove these frustrations, such as improving navigation, making the design more intuitive, or removing bugs.  

Male user at cafeteria table frustrated at bad UX on web application

Tip #21: Track How Long It Takes Users to Complete Tasks 

You want users to spend more time in your digital ecosystem because they enjoy it, not because they are struggling to complete a single transaction or input. Once a product goes live, collect data on how long it takes users to complete a task. 

If the completion time is high, decide how UX can help streamline this process. Do you need to improve navigation for users to find what they need? Does your application need a better design? Have these conversations proactively with the data you collect. 

Tip #22: Help Users Understand Their Mistakes 

Sometimes, users cannot complete tasks because they input the wrong information or otherwise do not conform to the application’s processes. UX should help the customer or employee get back on track with a helpful reminder. 

Microsoft Outlook error message during password creation

Text in an eye-catching color can help, such as the example above of a failed password creation process in Microsoft Outlook. If the instructions you need to give users are more complicated, consider incorporating a video to demonstrate what they need to do. Learn more about UX’s role in helping users recover from errors in our article on Nielsen’s Ten Heuristics. 

Tip #23: Create UX So Good, Users Find Excuses to Return 

Have you ever spent time browsing an e-shop even though you did not need to buy anything? Have you scrolled through social media even though you did not need to check on anything in particular? That’s because the user experience of those platforms was so enjoyable that you desired to return even without having a task to complete. 

Male remote worker looking away from laptop to enjoy application on his phone

As we mentioned in UX design tip #7, UX that is just functional will not get the job done in 2023. Too many companies and platforms are vying for your customers’ attention for anything average to stand a chance. Instead, the goal from the first brainstorming session to deployment should always be to create a user experience so satisfying that customers and employees can’t wait to jump back in. 

Final Thoughts 

Chances are, your UX team already knew 2023 would be a difficult year to meet customer needs and create more intuitive employee-facing platforms. 57% of employees told Gartner that their company had not given them the tools to build these next-level customer experiences going into the new year.  

Luckily, as we’ve outlined in our 23 UX design tips for 2023, there are plenty of ways to get this year off on the right foot. Your UX team can create more compelling digital products for customers and employees by leveraging user surveys, building personas, and allowing users to test prototypes when available. If you need help along the way, Programmers offers end-to-end digital product development services that guide your teams from the first brainstorming session all the way to deployment. 

Your team can also modernize the user experience of legacy applications to create more efficient workflows and boost brand reputation. Learn how our Fast-Track Application Modernization service can help you see continuous value where you need it most every 90 days.

Let us know how we can help you.

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