There’s always been an element of guesswork in product design – but a new era of customisation is helping designers to predict exactly what users want from their products.
Users increasingly have the power to make a product fit their own personal preferences: they can change the grid of a website, choose the way products are filtered or ordered, enlarge or minimise font, adjust colour contrasts or translate copy.
Incorporating this functionality into the architecture of a user interface empowers end users to create experiences that feel relevant and personal, and that support whatever activity or task they’re working on.
They can switch things up as their needs and personal preferences evolve. With more people wanting to create their own experiences, putting the power in the system users’ hands will soon be a design imperative.
Spend time getting the basics right
A key first step in enabling customisation is to make sure a UI has a solid foundation that can be easily modified. By simplifying layout, copy, colours, sizing, spacing, typography, grid, and iconography, you will create a more agile foundation that users can easily adjust when they make selections and set their preferences. Simplicity is key to welcoming more people into the design process.
Take an expansive view of your end users
Consider the range of individual and situational contexts that may affect end users. A variety of factors come into play, including a user’s region, language, age, access to technology, (dis)abilities, profession, and immediate environment. Designers should keep all of these in mind when providing customisation across a UI so users can make individual selections that are relevant to them.
Enable customisation at every stage of product development
Customisation should flow all the way through from product designer to end user. Bespoke plugins and widgets allow designers to customise their own workflows so that they can better serve the unique requirements of the users they’re building for. Customisation at every stage is essential for people to design on their own terms and create an impactful result for the end user.
Listen to your user base
When end users identify components that they’d like to customise, designers should listen and use this feedback to shape the next iteration of a UI, or the next generation of a product suite. This collaborative customisation means a UI will truly be shaped by the community for the community. By listening to feedback, designers can ship new products faster and feel more confident in their decisions.
User-centred design systems are on their way to becoming a best practice standard across websites and apps – and we may soon find consumers exclusively gravitating towards the brands that can deliver. Design should be accessible to everyone, and customisation has the power to elevate the experience of every user. It’s time to put the power into system users’ hands.