Providing an engaging user experience is crucial in delivering a top-notch product. Designers have traditionally shouldered the responsibility of ensuring user experience, but as a front-end programmer, familiarising yourself with key criteria can help you develop better products and deliver an exceptional customer experience. This article delves into some fundamental principles that should underpin your endeavours to enhance user experience.
Don’t keep your users hanging.Always account for all possible situations when your app is interacting with an API to avoid leaving your users hanging.
It is vital to design applications that consider the relevant states of loading, error and complete data loading. In addition, more complicated interactions with the API may require additional states to be considered. It may seem like common knowledge, but there are still applications that can cause confusion during or after an activity.
Seemingly minor issues, like a failed API request without an error message or lengthy loading periods without a skeleton screen, can significantly impact a user’s perception of your app.
Divide up your codeUsing code splitting allows for multiple bundles to be delivered as needed, rather than one large bundle that may contain code the user never interacts with. This can result in a faster app startup time. To implement this, Webpack or other bundlers can be used. For more information on code splitting, refer to the relevant section of the documentation available at Reactjs.org.
Utilise CachingOptimizing user experience can be achieved by implementing caching. Once initial data is obtained for each API endpoint, it can be saved and used to reduce potential delays for the user. One approach is to build this capability from scratch, but there are also libraries available that automate data retrieval, caching and invalidation, such as React query, useSWR, Apollo client, and RTk query. To compare these libraries, visit the React query webpage.
Engaging User InterfaceAn optimistic user interface favours executing changes locally before communicating with the server. In case the server-side update fails for any reason, the front-end modification will be undone, and the user will be alerted. This can enhance the user experience of your application by creating the perception that user actions, like editing or liking, occur instantly. While this can be done manually, it is worth mentioning that relevant caching libraries can also accomplish this.
PrefetchingData can be obtained ahead of time through prefetching, which can be advantageous when developing a table with server-side pagination. This implies that data for the subsequent table page can be acquired prior to user navigation to it. Utilising tools like React Query, RTK Query and the Apollo Client can simplify the construction of this process.
Staying VigilantHaving a fallback user interface (UI) to display in case of an error is valuable, but it is equally crucial to monitor user interactions with your app, even if no issues have been reported. This approach allows errors to be rectified and any emerging concerns to be dealt with proactively. Through monitoring, you can acquire a better comprehension of how your app is functioning for end users. Tools like Sentry and Datadog can be helpful in monitoring your app’s performance.
Animated GIFsIncorporating subtle animations can significantly enhance the customer experience of your product. If you need assistance with animations, consider using Framer motion, an easy-to-use library that may prove helpful.
Accessibility and Global ReachInternationalization involves modifying an app to make it usable for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, languages and geographical locations. Accessibility ensures that the app is accessible to as many people as possible, including those who depend on assistive technology due to disabilities. The level of internationalization required varies depending on the target audience for the app.
End-to-End Evaluation of Critical ProcessesWhen writing tests, it is essential to consider the time and resources invested relative to their value in the engineering process. While there may be instances where skipping tests is acceptable, implementing end-to-end tests for the most critical features of your application can help you identify any changes to the code that may be affecting functionality before they are released to users. This can prevent any issues that could have a significant impact on the final outcome.
Effective Code OptimizationOptimizing as necessary can enhance user satisfaction. Slow updates after each keystroke or loading large amounts of content at once, for instance, can result in a poor user experience. By monitoring the app’s performance and making required code adjustments, the user experience can be significantly improved. When optimizing the app using the useCallback hook, the useMemo hook, and React.memo, potential performance issues can be identified using React dev tools.
Analyze Your App’s Production Build and Adjust as NeededPerforming a Lighthouse audit of your app’s production build bundle can reveal areas for additional optimization and enhancement.
Providing an exceptional user experience (UX) cannot be guaranteed by front-end design alone. Although this post concentrates on React, most of the suggestions can be applied to other libraries and frameworks, ultimately improving UX.
Let’s strive to create exceptional products!
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