10 steps to engaging user experience

06. Pretend you're working for Fisher Price

Our CEO David Martin has this saying - and it's really resonated for me. "All interaction should feel like Fisher Price." In other words, when you make things bulky and oversized (like most children's toys) and design digital experiences for 'fat fingers', it will automatically be easier to use. So how do we translate this to designing engaging and interactive user experiences?

Rather than using the standard input fields, radio buttons or checkboxes, try using big buttons, jumbo sliders and giant input fields. You'll see user engagement increase and bounce rates drop. Isn't that what all UX designers strive for?

Labeling is also extremely important. Whenever you ask users to provide information, try to use cheeky, simple, and to-the-point terminology so that it will feel less like a hassle. The result will be that users will feel more emotionally compelled to complete the process. And that could mean a boost in signups, web traffic, online sales and ROI.

When a 9.0 earthquake struck Japan, earthquake relief efforts and support poured in from around the world. Working with Google, we created a platform for the global community to share their Messages for Japan. Taking a cue from Fisher Price, the site featured big buttons to group messages into categories of 'Love' and 'Hope', as well as giant input fields asking users to 'Write Your Message' and 'Make a Donation'.

07. Take cues from tablets

Because you're already limited by the amount of real estate on tablets, the need to simplify interactions is even greater. Ask yourself if your design would work on a tablet. If the answer is yes, you already have the two basic building blocks in place for a strong user experience: clear hierarchy and intuitive way finding.

These are the same questions we asked when we teamed up with CBSNews.com to create an elegant and visually rich online news experience for viewers of America's #1 news program, 60 Minutes.

08. Design your UX

Adding placeholders for copy (lorem ipsum) next to some grey boxes underneath a row of navigation links does not constitute design. Visual hierarchy, content grouping, spacing, positioning and size are all things that should be solved in wireframes before a visual designer even sets eyes on it. If in your wireframes you're working within the actual site or application width, and 12px text in your template is actually 12px in design, you're on track.

09. Collaborate with all departments

User experience design alone is not enough to make great work and it will surely not provide all the answers. Listen, collaborate and become the liaison between the client, the user and the rest of your internal team. Only then can you create the best possible experience for the user while still meeting all business objectives.

Remember, you're not alone. UX designers, visual designers and interactive developers all have a hand in making a project a success - it truly is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary effort. When it's a shared passion and everybody pitches in with their level of expertise and voices their opinions, magic happens.

10. Don't grade your own homework

The chance of you hitting the bulls eye with your first shot is very slim so be prepared to design iteratively as you gather more information about the performance of your site or application. One of the things that I am adamant about is that you should only do quantitative analysis on your own work. Tracking the performance and understanding where people are dropping off is extremely important and should be done in-house. But a third party should always conduct the qualitative user data analysis so you can truly have an objective testing environment. Doing this in-house is much like grading your own homework and won't give you the depth of truth and insight that you're looking for. If you want real objective answers, let someone else do the user testing and take those learnings into your next iteration.

Words: Irene Pereyra