Seeking a Simplified User Journey? Stop Adding Solutions.

For these three seasoned design leaders, the best user journey is a straightforward one.

Written by Tyler Holmes
Published on Mar. 24, 2022
Seeking a Simplified User Journey? Stop Adding Solutions.
Brand Studio Logo

Simplicity is harder to achieve than one might think.

Picture this: If you discover a pothole in the path of your daily commute, it might make sense to quickly detour down a side street until you’re back on track. But suddenly, an additional pothole appears. Do you make another small detour, and then another, gradually adding additional time and energy to the issue? Or do you attempt to have the obstructions filled and return to the straightforward path you initially began?

Welcome to the designer’s predicament of simplifying the user journey.

“Sometimes, designers may actually end up introducing more complexity in the pursuit of simplicity,” said Patrick Wong, senior manager of product design at Coinbase. “Always look for ways to reduce the number of steps in a flow until there’s just the right amount of information.”

An abundance of factors can interrupt the user experience: Poor UX and UI design, complicated checkout processes and buried website destinations in a disjointed series of links have all previously caused roadblocks and complications. That’s why it’s crucial for designers to work from the customer’s point of view, consider their end goals and experiment with each touch point throughout the user journey.

To learn how design teams have cut out unnecessary blunders and returned customers to a life of ease when using their products, Built In San Francisco touched base with three seasoned designers. We dug deeper to find out common pitfalls teams experience, how they overcome them and the best processes for streamlining and simplifying their journeys from start to finish.

 

An employee at Coinbase presenting to the team.
COINBASE

 

Patrick Wong
Senior Manager, Product Design • Coinbase

 

When do you know it’s time to simplify your product’s user journey?

Looking at quantitative and qualitative metrics is a great way to uncover pain points and opportunities to simplify your product’s user journey. Qualitative research such as user testing and looking at changes in quantitative business metrics can help highlight areas for improvement and simplification in your product. For example, if your customers are having difficulty onboarding to your product and that can be measured via user testing or looking at business metrics such as a drop in signup conversion rates, that is usually a good sign that there is room to simplify and improve your product’s user experience.

 

What process do you use to identify opportunities for simplification?

Recently our UX research team led a series of cognitive walkthroughs of several key flows in our apps to help identify opportunities to improve and simplify our products. Somewhat like a design critique, the team did a breakdown of the core user journeys across a number of our products, which helped the team identify areas with room for improvement. Running regular design critiques and reviews are one way we continuously iterate and improve on our products at Coinbase.

Looking at quantitative and qualitative metrics is a great way to uncover pain points and opportunities to simplify your product’s user journey.”

 

What are some common traps designers can fall into that result in an overly complicated user journey?

Attaining simplicity in product design often requires more work than what meets the eye, and is difficult to get right. Sometimes, designers may actually end up introducing more complexity in the pursuit of simplicity. Introducing new or complicated concepts to users requires carefully balancing information and context shared with users. Relying too heavily on text or copy, or attempting to over-explain context to users can result in added complexity.

Always look for ways to communicate concepts visually, reduce the number of elements or steps in a flow until there’s just the right amount of information. Then, review design work through several cycles of iteration and thoughtful design critique to land on simple solutions with high craftsmanship.

 

 

Edward Chu
Head of Product Design • kea

 

When do you know it’s time to simplify your product’s user journey?

At kea, every second counts. A second longer on a specific task could add up, not only affecting our cost but also our user experiences. For us, there isn’t a specific time to simplify an interaction, as it’s our never-ending goal to continuously improve our product and provide better experiences.

However, the best solution is to find the right balance between viability, feasibility and desirability. Does it make sense for our business to invest in this solution, and is it sustainable? Is this solution technically feasible, and can we develop this solution in time? Is this solution desired by our users?

 

What process do you use to identify opportunities for simplification?

As a voice tech company, we listen — a lot. We love feedback from everyone: Our customers, users and every internal kea employee are encouraged to voice out their questions and suggestions. We get a lot of great Q&A in our weekly demos which helps us identify different areas to improve. Regular check-ins with our users and ops team allow us to refine our design in micro areas, like cutting one second off in a flow.

Having a journey map and visuals for brainstorming really make a difference. I recently had a brainstorming session with our machine learning (ML) engineer and conversation designer. We started by going through each step of the journey and respective mock-ups, breaking down each piece of information, event and interaction to pick each others’ brains and ideate how we can improve the existing flows. The outcome was great as it came in a full circle. The ML engineer had a very good idea to improve our navigation interaction, while I offered improvements on voice experience and the conversation designer gave great feedback for machine training as well.

Collaboration is key to creative solutions, and that is just one example of many great ideas that we had generated together by bouncing ideas.

The best solution is to find the right balance between viability, feasibility and desirability.”

 

What are some common traps designers can fall into that result in an overly complicated user journey?

Designers are often obsessed with ideating and improving their designs, and sometimes we may get our heads working too narrow on a particular part of the problem and forget about the big picture. There are times when I witness that designers have made great improvements for a specific flow but it differs from the existing interactions, which results in a bad experience overall.

Figure out the why before the how. It is important for us to learn the why before we can ideate on how to solve it; otherwise, we may be trying to solve the wrong problem. Reminding ourselves to look and think holistically will help us avoid adding unnecessary extras into our solutions.

 

 

The Afero Design Team
Designers • Afero

 

When do you know it’s time to simplify your product’s user journey?

The user journey should have a natural flow. It should be a fluid experience for the user so that they can move from one step to the next, completing tasks that are important to them. The user should be able to find what they’re looking for when they need to find it.

We want to encourage curiosity. If a feature design causes users to pause and question in a way that is disruptive to them, we need to see what we can do to remove these obstacles.

 

What process do you use to identify opportunities for simplification?

Afero employees have been creating consumer products for the past 25 years. We channel that wealth of experience into designing and revising our products. We constantly scrutinize our own work to see where we can make it better. 

We actively collect direct feedback from users. We test alternative flows and interfaces throughout the development process. We gather feedback from product and industry experts. We look at product analytics. And we read all reviews, both the good and bad.

If a feature design causes users to pause in a way that is disruptive, we need to see what we can do to remove these obstacles.”

 

What are some common traps designers can fall into that result in an overly complicated user journey?

It’s really important to know what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. If you can’t articulate that, then your solution has a big chance of being overly complex or missing the target entirely.

Don’t let a challenge force you to add unnecessary steps for your users — that’s a big trap. Instead, you should work with your product teams to find and solve the real problem. Don’t make the user suffer because you’re unwilling to innovate.

 

 

Hiring Now
GRAIL
Healthtech • Software • Biotech