Finally…in developing digital products, there’s a range of often-forgotten elements that contribute to the total user experience and can negatively impact a user’s first time (or last time) encounter unless taken seriously from the very beginning. Make sure not to forget these vital pieces, so they’re not left at the last second or to some poor overworked engineer to jam on it at 2am before all-too-critical code freeze!

 

The initial “out of the box” experience
What’s the first time flow? What about the “next time” and thereafter? Consider licensing, activation, registration, and even un-install or deactivation as well (the final, end of app experience). How do they all relate? Make sure the login or sign-up process is simple and painless, preferably delightful, with a strong positive brand impression being made.

App preferences & settings
This should be simplified, largely smart-defaulted as much as possible. Never treat your prefs area as a toolshed, throwing a bunch of junk that doesn’t fit elsewhere. It should be well-curated just like a task menu or table list.

User accounts pages
Make sure users have a place to go to modify their accounts, update billing, change passwords, etc. and of course manage their privacy settings in an extremely intuitive, understandable manner that doesn’t require a law degree or IT schematic diagrams!

Error & warning messages
Don’t leave this to the very end or treat as an after-thought. It’s necessary to factor these into the overall design and product development process. Remember to make messages human readable, and meaningful with clear actions, preferably phrased in the affirmative (i.e., avoid double negatives, which confuse folks).

Section 508 compliancy
For physically challenged (sight, hearing, mobility) users. This is critical for government contracts in particular. Various agencies offer specialized consulting for 508 compliancy.

Internationalization
Maybe not a big issue for start-ups as much, but perhaps down the road as you grow and broaden your market reach, it’s good to spend some time considering your plan for supporting different languages and global markets. A good rule of thumb is to factor 30% more spacing for labels in forms.