Keep Your Users Happy by Supporting These 13 User Behaviors

Posted by afranchimon • Jul 30, 2020 • 5 Minute Read

You might notice on programs and software wizards that the “Next” and “Confirm” buttons are usually located on the right-side area of the user interface. There’s a reason for that.

A good interface design starts with understanding your user. The better you understand them, the better your interface design will be; and the easier it will be for your user to reach his goal through your application. Since the purpose of all applications is different, the design will also differ.

While users are all different, there are some predictable behaviors that people share. Support the following user behaviors through your application, and you’re a little more likely to succeed.

1. Safe exploration

A user should feel like they can explore the app without any sudden, disastrous consequences. Imagine accidentally deleting an account from an accounting package and being unable to reverse the action. This is what makes Undo support (CTRL/CMD-Z) such a universal feature.
Allow your users to use your application more confidently, by allowing them to undo minor mistakes or return to previously visited pages.

2. Instant gratification

Users want to accomplish their goal almost as soon as they are logged into your application. Microsoft understands this need very well and so Visual Studio is full of instant application templates. You can also style PowerPoint presentations or Word documents completely with the click of a single button.

For the same reason, instant coffee-makers that use a small capsule and a button are extremely popular despite their high prices. Get your user’s work done in a single click or less, and he will never look for another application.

3. Changes in midstream

Users often change their minds about what they want to do – sometimes in the middle of an action.

They may be in the middle of reading an email when they get a text they need to answer right away. When they go back to their email app, they expect it to pick up where they left off, on the same line of the same email that they were previously reading.

Build small features into your application that allow your user to change their mind without any inconvenience, and return to your app without any loss of data or interruption in the experience.

4. Habituation

Any experienced computer user is used to the universal CTRL-C, CTRL-V (or CMD-C, CMD-V) shortcut. Developers know this and support these key combinations in every OS or browser. They simply won’t get away with excluding them.

Users are used to certain experiences and patterns that they have picked up from outside your product, but they will expect you to follow suit.

Include support for classic shortcuts, and place your log-out icon at the top-right of the page. If you contradict what users are used to, they may opt to leave your application instead of learning a new habit.

5. Satisficing

The term “satisficing” is a combination of satisfying and sufficing. It was coined back in 1956 by a social scientist named Herbert Simon. People don’t like to think more than they have to. They are willing to accept good enough instead of best if learning all the alternatives takes too much time.

Your calls-to-action should be the most obvious option for your user – they shouldn’t need to think twice about it.

Use clever colors to guide your user, and keep labels short and quick to read. Give quick, clear directions in the interface for the user to accomplish their goals: Type here. Click there. Submit, and you’re done.

6. Deferred choices

Back in the mid-nineties, registering for a website was a nightmare. Most websites required you to fill out your address information, with no optional fields. Nowadays, it’s a matter of both privacy and user experience to only ask for the bare minimum information you need.

As users explore the features that require additional input, they will understand why they have to enter the data. They will be much more willing to provide it later when the need truly arises.

7. Microbreaks

Now that nearly everyone is equipped with a mobile phone, microbreaks are becoming more important than ever. Users check their favorite app while waiting for the bus and put their phone away as soon as they board.

Support this behavior through your application by making it easy to open, quick to navigate, and responsive to any commands. Don’t ask the user to log in over and over again.

8. Spatial memory

The best example of spatial memory is the “home screen” of your phone or your desktop. This is used to organize icons for quick access to important documents or applications that you use often. Users tend to remember where they stored things, not what they are called.

Like with habituation, embrace this user behavior on your software. Create a similar holding space in your application where users can access things quickly. Avoid populating menus dynamically. Instead, make sure that the most important items are at the top or at the bottom of the menu – the spaces that users will remember more easily.

9. Prospective memory

Some users set their laptop to hibernate when they leave work. When it comes out of hibernation, they expect their files and programs to be exactly where they left it. This is a good example of prospective memory.

Users remind themselves of things they need to do by placing it on a certain space on the desktop. They flag emails as important to make sure to answer it next time or leave crucial windows open so they will see it again later. The key need is not necessary to remind the user but to allow the user enough flexibility to remind themselves of important things.

10. Streamlined repetition

Repeating the same boring task multiple times is draining, and most users will be unwilling to do it. Support macros where possible, or build a functionality that allows users to repeat the same steps quickly and easily.

11. Keyboard support

Users have high demands from your system. When filling up forms, many users switch to the next field by pressing the TAB button. Your users will expect your program to support simple, intuitive keyboard shortcuts like these.

12. Social

We get fed so much information in a day that our brains are hot-wired to take shortcuts rather than evaluating all decisions. Marketers know how to use these tricks wisely to influence us to buy the product they want us to buy.

One of these shortcuts is listening to other people’s advice. People are social. They believe the more opinions the better – since a million people can’t all be wrong.

If your application can accommodate a social feature in any form, it’s a good idea to do it. Allow your application to be liked, shared, tweeted about, or posted with no effort at all.

Like user behaviors, some things are tried, tested, and repeatable. Our team has written a set of building blocks for integrations that are required in basically any application. These blocks help us bring your idea to life faster.

Note: This post was originally published by Alain F. at You_Source.