Use these digital user experience guidelines to keep our
user experiences consistent.
Everything we do needs to support our mission – to make consumers as powerful as the organisations they deal with. In Digital, we do that by giving our users the experience they expect from us. So we build powerful products and services, and we make them effortless and simple to use. On top of that, we’re always striving to give our users more than they expect. That means making things that aren’t just easy to use – they’re elegant and well-executed too.
We need to make sure we’re working towards this all the time – across our experience principles, our interface design, our interaction paradigms, through our tone of voice, and in our technical framework and reliability.
If we’re delivering this consistently, we’re building a stronger Which? brand, especially when our work’s supported by fresh ways of demonstrating the same attitudes and brand promises over different channels, devices and environments.
We make sure that we understand our customers by involving real users throughout the design process, from shaping the intial idea, through to prototyping, delivering and refining.
We take an iterative approach so that we can test concepts early and feed what we learn into design and development:
We go beyond the demographic and attitudinal profiles of our customers. We seek to understand consumers behaviour and design an experience that supports their needs. We gather both quantitative and qualitative data from a range of sources including surveys, face to face interviews, ethnographic studies, and website analytics to form a rounded view of the customer.
Our experience principles are central to how we develop our digital products. They give us a focus, making sure we design things for our customers, not for ourselves. On top of that, they guide every decision we make when we’re developing a digital product. Our experience principles are based on research. They’re clear, unambiguous and should be universally understood.
We make it easy for you to find your way around by presenting things in a logical, clear and intuitive way. Once we’ve answered your original question, we’ll use clear signposting to point you to other content you might find useful.
We provide well-crafted and easy-to-use tools to help you get the answers you need. This means you can get to your destination quickly, so you can get the most out of the time and effort you put in. Whatever we do not only works well, but it feels good to use and looks polished and refined.
We give you the confidence to make the right decision. We do this by collecting and curating a diverse range of opinions in one place, so that you can easily access them. These opinions come from Which? experts, Which? members, verified sources, and people like you.
We give you tools that put you in control, giving you options to tailor your experience and choose what you want to see and how much. We won’t overload you or give you too little. We respect your privacy, we’re transparent and we offer real value.
We make you feel savvy, empowering you to make better decisions based on accurate, independent, timely guidance and insight.
The experience principles do not work on their own. We apply these principles in combination with our visual identity guidelines for Digital to ensure we build consistently strong interactions and recognisable patterns that people can use intuitively. We want our customers to feel confident that no matter what service they are using, they always know they are within Which?
The digital brand should be consistent across the widest range of platforms and devices. The way we implement that consistency should be as elegant as it is technically sound. That means good layout, strong design principles, best practice user interface behaviours, and robust technical frameworks.
From custom stylesheets to adaptive design frameworks, our web-based products should consider everything from cross-browser issues to multiple operating systems. For implementing web-based products, we have created a digital framework on Github digital repository. This includes downloadable templates, base custom stylesheets and other standardised assets. It gives our web-based development consistency, and streamline the way we work. For access to the framework please ask the Digital team.
Apps are either native apps designed within the device’s operating systems - for instance, iOS and Android - or they can be ‘packaged’ web apps which use less of the native OS, and are instead delivered via web-based protocols - like the Google suite of web apps. For both these platforms, we can create some consistent standards that will give us base structure and consistent framework.
When we develop our web-based products, we use an adaptive grid. It’s predominantly fixed-width, not fully fluid, and it lets us keep the properties that are useful in developing for a multi-device, multi-platform approach. By using fixed breakpoints, the grid also gives us tighter control over design at different resolutions. This not only makes us consistent, it significantly streamlines the testing and development process because we’re only optimising for a fixed number of sizes.
Starting from the smallest screen size and working upwards is the most logical and productive way to design user experiences. By considering mobile first, we can progressively enhance the experience for other devices, focussing our content as we go. This has a beneficial effect for tablet, desktop and other screen formats too. It forces us to focus on information and user needs first, before enhancing the UX as our work progresses to larger screens. This often means we take a linear ‘one column’ approach. It gives us a basic hierarchy, and helps us prioritise our content.
Developing mobile first is efficient. But we also need to think about browser technology and screen real estate for desktop and tablet. Using these efficiently is hugely important for Which? audiences. On top of that, we’re moving towards a tablet-optimal approach which targets the devices most of our audiences are likely to be using in the (very) near future. So although mobile first is a good starting point for developing our products, we should rarely see it as the endpoint.
Sometimes, we don’t deliver for smaller-screen initially, because it’s not right for the product or task. For example, this includes the Which? Wills ‘Self Service’ area and the Which? Money ‘Tax Calculator’.
Accessibility is the measure of how well a product or service can be used by people with varying abilities. This could include people with visual impairment, colour deficiency, hearing loss, or limited dexterity. Up to 20% of the UK population have accessibility needs (and not only because they are aged or disabled) so it’s important we get our accessibility right.
Accessibility is an important consideration when designing and developing digital products. For websites, better accessibility generally means a better experience for all our users. It helps us follow best practice - things like coding frameworks, search engine optimisation and even the way we write. On top of that, it reaches all corners of development - from the technology we use, to how we’re sizing and colouring text so it’s easy to read, through to whether we’re using key-based navigation or audio navigation.
When you’re working to improve a product’s accessibility, please bear in mind the following points: