It is all about understanding users and then deciding how to address their needs best

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Humblebrag alert: we recently launched LEXolution. DMS Pro Mobile DESK which allows you easy access to your documents on the go. We thought it might be a nice touch to share some of the principles we used during the design process to celebrate this. Read more below:

As the digitization of communications and services keeps upping its pace, we are all faced with the notion of UX (User Experience) daily. Moreover, it is irrelevant if you are a service vendor or user—we are all affected by UX in some shape or form. In addition to value and functionality, truly great vendors distinguish themselves through excellent user experience.

In short, chances are that you, too, encounter the concept of UX every single day. The typography and formatting of this article and the page that you are now reading impact how you feel while reading this text. Have the publishers made it easy for you? If so, they’ve achieved a good experience for their readers.

However, if you are still new to the notion of UX:

What is UX and why does it matter?

Depending on the context, UX can have different (albeit quite related) meanings.

On the one side, UX is all about how your readers, users, service consumers, etc. feel while using your apps or services. This feeling results from the “build quality,” structuring, and packaging of vendors’ content for their consumers.

Taken from another angle, UX also refers to a set of practices used throughout the app-building process, aimed to cater to and enhance what users feel and experience while consuming content, in whatever shape or form.

It is clear how one notion of UX is linked with the other. Content vendors and service providers alike have to take into consideration how their products will make users’ feel to stand out from the crowd. And, in doing so, they strive to apply best practices that reinforce positive experiences.

The goal is to thrill users and keep them coming back for more.

Who should pay attention to UX?

If you’ve made it this far, you may wonder, “what’s in it for me?” Are you, in particular, supposed to pay attention to user experience? Well, I guess it comes down to what you do within your niche and how you interact with your stakeholders.

To give an example: If you are one of your law firm’s principals, you may feel that your services have nothing to do with user experience. After all, you have “clients,” not “users.” You (likely) aren’t doing any software application development, and does that make the core principles of UX irrelevant to you?

Even in this case, I feel there’s a strong case in favor of minding the UX. Let’s consider:

  • Okay, you aren’t a software vendor, but your law firm likely has a website;
  • The purpose of your website is to serve some content to your prospects and clients;
  • That being said, do you feel a lousy UX on your website, blog, or other touchpoints is more or less likely to get you a new client?

The above is even more critical if you’ve started to productize your legal services. If this is the case, you are likely devising some applications and portals for your clients to use.

The essential principles of UX

With all this being said, it’s clear why UX is nothing to be brushed off. If it matters to you how your clients or users feel about your brand, there are some core principles that you (or your team) should have in mind.

Here are some of the most critical starting points:

It all starts with the users

You can’t, after all, spell “user experience” without “users.” While this much is clear, sometimes it might not be so easy to zoom out from the project and put yourself in your users’ shoes.

Sometimes highly skilled designers like to impress their peers and revert to using very creative yet experimental methods. If users, however, are on the more conservative side, they could easily be confused by such avant-garde design. If users are confused, they are less likely to reach their goals with your app or website (or, at least, to do so within a reasonable time frame). Despite all the great efforts, this would lead to poor UX.

So what does it mean to start with users in mind? Have a well-defined user persona in mind even before you start devising your web page or application. Think about who will consume the content, what it is for, and their likely goal.

Further, think about the circumstances in which users would consume your content. Will they do it at their desks, or are they more likely to access your apps and pages while on the go?

(There are great books on how to craft and iterate your user persona, and you can find them on Amazon for Kindle readers – I would highly recommend to consult them if you are new to the subject)

Relevance, relevance, relevance

This principle naturally stems from the first one. If you’ve started with your users in mind, you are likely to understand why they consume your content in the first place, what goal they are achieving with it, and why they return for more.

Naturally, visitors come to your website with a purpose. With this in mind, you are better positioned to help them reach their goal faster and in a more structured manner.

As mentioned, it could be tempting to include all the bells and whistles in your web pages and apps. However, if you only stick with your users’ primary goal, you may remove all other elements and objects that don’t contribute to it.

Use simple language in your texts

Regardless of how well educated your audience is, simpler is always better, and simplicity in writing is even more relevant for lawyers for a number of reasons.

For starters, most of the lawyers’ communications are in writing. Lawyer and law firm websites are usually rich in written content (especially the news and blog sections). Therefore, it would likely pay off to spend some time putting all this content in an easily digestible form.

Secondly, lawyers are, by and large, still frequently using legal jargon in their daily work. At times, bits of that jargon could slip into documents and pages which don’t require complex language to deliver the message.

Your clients already know you’re a subject expert, so no need to reinforce that message by using complex wording on all occasions. Less is often more, and this is true for UX as well.

Typography is king

It isn’t only what you write and how you phrase it, but also how you lay it out for reading. Therefore, typography plays a considerable role, and it represents much more than merely a choice of font.

As publishers know, everything that has to do with putting words on paper or screen is typography. Spacing, letter size, fonts, and color collectively influence how easily users can consume written content and how they will feel while doing so.

Robert Bringhurst, the author of “The Elements of Typographic Style,” defined typography as “the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form.” That quote drives the point home.

It isn’t up to you if you deal with UX

It doesn’t matter how we feel about UX–whether we recognize its importance or not. Even if we choose not to address our users’ perception, they will have their experience nonetheless.

User experience is not one of those games where “the only way to win is not to play them.” Quite the opposite is true: To stay on top of our users’ perception, we have to take an active role. It all starts with understanding our users and their goals and then deciding how to best address those needs. 

ivan.rasic@stp-online.de

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