User Experience Design In A Nutshell

The term “user experience” was coined by researcher Dr. Donald Norman who said that “no product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” User experience design is a process that design teams use to create products that are useful and relevant to consumers.

Understanding user experience design

The iPhone is one example of a great user experience because the pleasure associated with using an iPhone extends beyond merely tapping the screen.

Apple made sure that the process of acquiring, owning, and even troubleshooting issues on their products is also an experience.

This cohesive set of factors contributes to the feeling that a person has when interacting with a product or service.

User experience design is thus the study of how each factor shapes consumer perceptions. 

User experience is important for accessibility.

This is particularly salient given the myriad ways that consumers access content and the increasing complexity of websites.

While websites have never been more feature-rich, their success is ultimately determined by how fast the pages load or whether the content adds value.

There is no single definition that constitutes a good user experience. Instead, think of it as any experience that meets consumer needs in the context of their interaction with a product or service.

Factors that influence user experience design

To increase the odds of meaningful or valuable user experience, businesses should design experiences that are:

  1. Useful – is the content original? Does it fulfill a need?
  2. Usable –is the product easy to use? How painless is the return or delivery process?
  3. Desirable – does the image, identity, or brand of a business interact with consumers in such a way that emotions are evoked? That is, does the user experience make the product or service more desirable?
  4. Findable – can the consumer find what they need promptly? Is the company website navigable and up-to-date? Does it remove certain steps that would cause the consumer to click away?
  5. Accessible – is the product or service readily available to those with disabilities? Is the instruction manual written in several languages?
  6. Credible – does the product or service live up to expectations? For example, does it deliver on promises such as a money-back guarantee or extended warranty?

User experience design should also incorporate the Why, What, and How of product use:

  • Why – or the users’ motivations for using the product. Motivation may relate to the task being performed or the outcome of the task itself. In some cases, interaction occurs because certain values or status levels are associated with using it.
  • What – encompassing product or service functionality.
  • How – how will the consumer use the product? This relates to the design of product functions or features that are both aesthetically pleasing and accessible.

User experience design examples

There are countless examples of effective user experience design. Below are a few from the past two years. 


Headspace is an online mediation company founded by Andy Puddicombe and Richard Pierson in 2010. Puddicombe got the idea for the company after seeing the value of mindfulness meditation during a ten-year stint as a monk. The Headspace app is free to use for those desiring basic lessons and functionality. However, there are two subscription plans for those who want to delve deeper into mindfulness as a meditation practice.  Headspace also makes money through various and sometimes high-profile partnerships with corporate clients. Furthermore, the company is hoping to monetize its Headspace Health product. If approved, it would be one of the first such products to offer mindfulness as a therapeutic digital medicine.

As a leader in the online mediation market, it is almost incumbent that the experience of using the Headspace app be as smooth, intuitive, and mentally calming as possible.

Like competitor Calm and online language platform Duolingo, the company has used UX design and gamification to increase customer retention. 

Duolingo is an EdTech platform leveraging gamification to enable millions of users to learn languages. Duolingo leverages a hybrid between ad-supported and freemium models. Indeed, the free app makes money through advertising. Free users are also channeled into premium subscriptions with an ad-free experience and more features.

Unlike its competitors and indeed most other businesses, user notifications are also disabled by default.

Instead, Headspace explains the benefits of enabling them and lets the user decide if they want to receive notifications and in what quantity.


Email marketing service Mailchimp employs superior UX design in its user sign-up process.

No one likes a message that says their password is not strong enough, nor do they enjoy the mundane task of having to create a suitably complex password.

Mailchimp’s password guidance feature incorporates a fun and friendly message that encourages users to think of a better password.

A list of required letters, numbers, and special characters is supplemented with a congratulatory checkbox popup that confirms the new password is a success.


Spotify is a two-sided marketplace where artists and music fans engage. Spotify has a free ad-supported service and a paid membership. Founded in 2008 with the belief that music should be universally accessible, it generated €9.66 billion in 2021. Of these revenues, 87.5% or €8.46 billion came from premium memberships, while over 12.5% or €1.2 billion came from ad-supported members.

Many Spotify users look forward to the end of the year when the music platform sends them wrapped stories in their feeds.

Music lovers are presented with personalized, shareable, data-backed playlists according to their listening habits over the previous twelve months.

While personalization is important, presenting data stories in a format users are familiar with and delivering a music experience worth sharing with friends are also key.

Spotify’s use of color gradients to convey emotion and add to the fun factor complement these characteristics.

The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.


Glovo is a Spanish on-demand courier service that purchases and delivers products ordered through a mobile app. Founded in 2015 by Oscar Pierre and Sacha Michaud as a way to “uberize” local services. Glovo makes money via delivery fees, mini-supermarkets (fulfillment centers that Glovo operates in partnership with grocery store chains), and dark kitchens (enabling restaurants to increase their capacity).

Glovo is a quick-commerce start-up that was founded in Barcelona in 2015.

The Glovo app was designed for the hungry user who wants their food delivered as quickly as possible.

This necessitated a simple navigation system and buttons that paired visuals with clean copy.

As one searches for a restaurant, they are presented with progressively fewer options as a specific set of needs are whittled down.

Eventually, users are presented with a list of restaurants that are either cheap, well received by diners, or offer fast service.


Airbnb is a platform business model making money by charging guests a service fee between 5% and 15% of the reservation, while the commission from hosts is generally 3%. For instance, on a $100 booking per night set by a host, Airbnb might make as much as $15, split between host and guest fees. 

The Airbnb website features a simple but prevalent search bar that encourages visitors to plan a random vacation they may not even have the time or money for.

For those that do have the means to take a break, the site offers a transparent breakdown of the total price of a stay including any cleaning and service fees. 

Perhaps the standout UX pattern on the accommodation website, however, is the ability to view listings alongside a map with location-based prices.

The same may also be said for the deft use of contrast and shadows to structure the site into two layers: an upper layer containing the explanatory copy and call-to-action (CTA) button and a background layer that comprises the rest of the page. 

Users can instantly differentiate between the two and intuitively understand the level with which they can interact.

This reduces cognitive load on the user – widely considered to be one of the most critical components of successful user experience design.

In 2021, Airbnb generated enabled $46.9 Billion in Gross Booking Value, and it generated $6 Billion in service fee revenues. On 2021, there were $300.6 Million Nights and Experiences Booked, ad an average service fee of 12.78%, at an Average Value per Booking, $155.94.

Key takeaways

  • User experience design involves the designing of products or services that give consumers meaningful and relevant experiences.
  • User experience design is based on consumer perceptions which are in turn based on product usefulness, accessibility, reliability, and credibility to name a few.
  • In a world with technologically advanced products and highly interactive websites, user experience design has never been more important. Design teams should not lose sight of certain evergreen concepts such as ergonomics, site speed, and valuable content.

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