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Yes, there are UX/UI design industry trends to keep up with, technological and programmatic advancements to incorporate and best practices for client relationship development to keep in mind.
But the intangible principles that inform your agency culture and the way you work with your partners can and should be in place to guide you through the fairly ambiguous realm of user experience design. What may be thought of as obvious isn’t always, and so designers would do well to have at least a few fundamentals in place that can be applied to most experience design projects.
Here are five steps you can implement to create innovative user experience design. To be clear, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what constitutes innovative user experience design, nor is it meant to serve as a “how-to” for execution.
1. Define innovation
This is a simple idea that requires a lot of work, so it’s important to articulate it in a way that is unique to the ethos of your team from a start. Each project you launch illuminates what you recognize as innovative, and what your clients are responding to most.
This approach is experiential in nature. Keep track of your innovative ideas and let them drive your own creativity in a way that is exciting and inspiring for the brands you serve.
2. The interdisciplinary approach
User experience, user interface, brand strategy and visual identity design always work together, whether or not all they are explicitly part of the client’s scope of work. If your client is heavily focused on visual identity or SEO, it’s your job to express what each of these means and how they depend on each other for the best possible results.
The goal is to unite all design principles, both tangible and intangible, and a siloing of these disciplines will be apparent in the final project. Keep your team members connected throughout the life cycle of the work and be mindful of how each component fits together.
3. Knowing the brand
Before wireframing and development, dedicate time to the discovery phase. Do the research, contextualize the brand, find implications and create rationale. Know your client, what they want and the space they exist within. When you propose your direction to the brand, it should be confident that you’ve learned the ins and outs of what it is and that you understand the challenges and opportunities that exist specific to its identity goals.
Brands embarking on a user experience overhaul or elevation want to know they’re being heard before a project kicks off, and sharing analysis for them to react to will assure them that everyone is on the same page and moving forward from a fundamental understanding of identity, needs and ambition. This allows you to define and measure what success looks like at the onset, and review it against results during the post-mortem analysis of your work.
4. Always be diverse and inclusive
This is the baseline and should go without saying. Diverse and inclusive design principles open the opportunity for so many creative directions. If digital design and development aren’t accessible, the experience won’t be as compelling as it has the potential to be.
This should begin with understanding the brand’s target audience certainly, but within those are a diverse community of people who should feel welcomed, seen and engaged with at the onset and throughout their digital journeys. Gendered language, non-diverse visuals in photography and graphics, inability to reach or communicate with anyone experiencing physical, geographical or technological limitations must be considered and corrected.
5. Let the story drive
This can be an exercise as simple as beginning with answering the “who, what, why” for your client and expanding from there. Creative and concise written expression with a strong voice that reflects the brand encourages users to travel through as many journeys as are helpful and compelling for them to absorb.
If you want users to experience every area that the client cares about, you have to (story)tell them how to get there. Each touchpoint and place for descriptive verbiage should inspire navigation to the next point. If this area is lacking, the brand’s audience will miss the benefit of gaining a full grasp of identity and value, so find creative ways to broaden and extend the experience so that the user is ready to satisfy the call to action and engage directly with the brand.