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browser extension design

As people conduct more and more of their activities online, companies compete to get and keep users’ attention. For extension developers, great user experience is critical to success. But what does it take to design a great UX in an extension? In this post, we bring you the best practices and tips to improve your UX Design. 

Why Is It UX Important?

User experience refers to how a user feels when interacting with the product. The person’s attitude about using a product or service. It includes the user perception of the usability and efficiency of the product, as well as the cognitive effort needed to complete a task.   In a market with thousands of new apps coming all the time, competition is fierce. UX usually trumps over flashy designs. How many times did you download an app only to find out it is too complicated or clumsy to use?  While the most stunning design can attract more users, it is often the app with the best customer experience the most successful. That’s the importance of a great UX; it keeps your users engaged and spreads the word about how great it is to use your extension.  To put it in the words of Jared Spool, the founding principal of User Interface Engineering, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” 

What Makes a Great UX?

Great user experience takes several factors into account, such as the usability, the intuitiveness, the coherence, the time and effort it takes the user to complete a task. Let’s explore some of them:

Intuitive use

The time you take between opening an app or an extension and start using it shows how effective is the user experience design. If the install-use process goes in a few steps, with not a lot of instructions, the UX is effective. In addition, the designer should consider conventions and design patterns. For instance, using buttons to confirm an action, a triangle to show “play” are conventions that ease the experience for the user. Don’t reinvent the wheel.   

Usability

When you test the user experience of a product, what you’re actually checking is the usability of the product. How seamless and easily a user can complete the intended task on an app or an extension while enjoying doing it.  You should also try to prevent user errors as much as possible. For example, add a sample email like name@domain.com in the email address field. You can also add examples of correct input. This can help prevent user frustration.     What makes a product easily usable?

  • It is easy to manipulate
  • It has simple steps, minimal clicks to complete the task
  • The navigation is clear, users always know where they are 
  • Everyone can use the product regardless of skill or experience

Compliance with User Experience Design Conventions When looking at extensions and apps to install, you may have noticed there are similar characteristics in the button placements, icons, and such. Design conventions aim to avoid user frustration by keeping common “rules of thumb”  for user experience.    The browser you design for When designing an extension, take into account how different browsers can support your extension. Be sure to check the developer guidelines.  Keep in mind not to override browser functionality. For example, using keyboard shortcuts that belong to the browser or canceling right-click options. You should also consider that some browsers have more rigid guidelines than others. Here’s a brief list of developer guidelines for major browsers: 

 

6 Tips to Design a Successful Extension

You want users to have an exceptional experience with your extension, right? The better experience, the more people will download it and the reviews will make it a hit. Below you can find six tips to ensure your extension is enticing, useful, and retains users. 

1. Pay attention to the use cases

What is the need your extension is filling? Focus on the main use case, addressing the pain point according to the target audience. The extension should give users an additional feature or capability that solves a problem, saving time, money, or effort.  

2. Keep it within context

Think about the frequency people will use your extension. If users only use the extension sporadically, you can focus more on making your extension attractive for new users. If your extension needs to run at all times, then it is more important to blend the extension seamlessly to the browsing experience.  Keep in mind to limit the screen space your extension takes. Some extensions work right on the taskbar, others open a pop-up window. Take care that the pop-up doesn’t take half a screen. 

3. Be consistent with your brand

The add-on is a part of your brand. Therefore, align the branding for the extension with your company branding app. It should share the voice, colors, in a consistent journey. Ideally, the extension should help you achieve your company’s business goals.  

4. Don’t forget performance

Loading speed is not a bonus, but a necessity nowadays. Your extension can be functional and attractive, but if it stalls or slows down the browsing experience, people will quickly uninstall it. Make it as light as possible. 

5. Be Creative

If you carried out several UX projects, you can know what works and what doesn’t. Review past successful projects to get insights and ideas, extracting the information you can use again. Also, look at your competitors. How similar extensions are solving the problem? However, always test things with your extension and your users.    Check the browser’s features, maybe you can integrate some to your extension. An example of this is how Uber pairs with Google Maps. 

6. Conduct a UX Audit

Once your extension is live, it is time to review how it works. Conducting periodic UX audits and reviews can help you refine the success of the user experience on your extension. You can check how users actually interact with the extension, what features they find useful and what not. 

Monetize your Extensions with CodeFuel

 After launching your extension, think about monetization.  Here at CodeFuel, we help you monetize your extensions. When you use CodeFuel, users download your extension from the browser web store. Then, a search box appears in a new tab with results that are powered by one of our search partners. When a user searches, the box leads to a customized search results page or to a search engine SERP.  Hopefully, this post gave you some tips and best practices to improve your extension UX. A great user experience is one of the key elements to a successful extension. 

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