User Experience (UX) Design, is a term first introduced by Don Norman, an American researcher, and author. He has a fascination for design and hatred for doors (because they are always poorly designed).
- Let’s start with a paragraph on What is UX Design?
In a nutshell, UX Design is about making a user’s interaction with a product as meaningful and smooth as possible. When a user lands on your website or application, their journey should be simple and fun. Starting from the homepage to the check-out page. So that the user end-up purchasing your product or becoming a customer. UX design is a combination of all the interactions a user does with your product. A product can be an application, a service, or a website.
- Why do we need UX?
Because good UX makes a user’s interaction with your product awesome. When the interaction is awesome, there will be more conversions and better adoptions. Therefore it brings in more clients and so on, you know the rest.
The UX Design Process?
It is an iterative process. In other words, you go through the journey of creating a product stage by stage. And evaluating your output at every stage to make it better.
UX design process usually consists of 4 main stages: Research > Ideation > Execution and Implementation > Evaluation.
There are times when you iterate your decisions and repeat some of the steps to improve your output. Similarly, there are times when you’ll start from scratch. But that is continuous learning.
Each stage has various techniques. However, I’ll discuss some of them here. These techniques vary with respect to the business or product. You may use some techniques/methods for one type of market/product while some will work better for another.
Let us start with Research.
Start with research, always. As research is the most essential part and the starting point of the UX design process. Moreover, the fundamental purpose of the research is to understand the Requirements, Objectives, Competition, and Stakeholders. And their needs. It also allows you insights on what methods you should use based on resources and insights. And what to do in the creation process.
Various steps are included in the research, from interviews to brainstorming. Gathering every aspect of information, and taking it all into consideration. And all that before you start the journey towards designing a product.
- Identifying and Defining the Problem:
To take the first step towards a solution, you have to identify and define the problem. Likewise, you have to consider the issue your product is going to rectify. It is the starting point of UX design and the user-centered design process and should be properly considered. It should be phrased as a question. And it will always keep your team on the right track.
- Requirement Analysis:
Requirement gathering is the mandatory and most obvious phase to start your work. You gather the requirements by brainstorming ideas, interviewing stakeholders, and interviewing potential users. Then compile that information to pinpoint the requirements for the product.
- User Analysis:
In this phase, you will analyze your targeted market and consider your users and stakeholders for the project. It will make you focus your scope for the project and will provide you with a definitive userbase to target.
- Competition Analysis:
Competition analysis means that you concentrate on your gathered information and consider it against the possible competition. So that you know the products you will be up against in the market. This will help you to understand the place where your product stands. And then allow you to narrow down your milestones. And this allows you to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.
It is the phase after research in which you analyze your gathered data and create a plan accordingly. In this phase, you ideate your process and generate resources. You use these resources throughout the design process. And they guide you in the execution. You will define your users and their journey through your website or application and the overall architecture of your product.
- User Persona:
User personas are a representation of users that will be using your product. It is purely fictional. Although user research and analysis are backing it. A user persona defines an ideal user. It consists of their goals, problems, needs and pain points, etc. User personas are an ideal way to find specific customers to conduct testing and evaluate the product.
- Information Architecture:
IA can be defined as the organization and structuring of information on a website or an application. Therefore, it is easy for the user to navigate through it. It is basically like a skeleton and blueprint of the design structure. We use IA to properly plan and arrange the navigation and journey throughout the product for optimal user experience. In IA, you define a hierarchy, sequence, labeling, and navigation.
- Application Flow:
Flow defines the paths a user can take throughout the application or website. It defines the flow and relation between one screen and another. You can design flow individually for specific modules (i.e Registration Process) or the whole product. And it plays an important role to help designers guide through the planned structure like a beacon in the dark.
- User Journey Maps:
They are the representation of a user’s journey and interaction through your application or website. These are the actions users take to achieve objectives or perform specific tasks. It is a representation of a map of actions a user takes when interacting with your product. User Journey Maps allows you to pinpoint user problems and their pain points. Above all, it provides you with a simple space to tackle those problems. Consequently, you can generate solutions to these problems, one at a time.
Execution and Implementation:
After you have finalized the ideation process and derived a plan, you start executing it. This phase involves concrete outputs of the ideas you have generated in previous phases. Therefore, you utilize the information you have amassed and create actual screens or pages. And use these outputs to implement the solutions for testing.
One of the most important steps in the execution of a UX project. With a bunch of execution ideas in mind, sketching provides a fast and efficient way to get them out and compare. It allows designers to consider different approaches to their solution. This helps in getting to various directions in a short period, compared to digital design. Sketching is an important part of the UX process, but is not adapted widely and is usually overlooked.
- Digital Wireframes:
Digital wireframes are the skeleton of the design of a product. They act as the foundation of the concrete design of a website or an application. Wireframes are usually greyscaled designs of the screens containing no visual aesthetics. Wireframes focus on the structure of the content on the screen and its hierarchy. And can be easily created than the actual UI design and are significantly inexpensive. Thus it is relatively easy to iterate the product structure in this step. And it is always recommended.
- Interactive Prototypes:
Prototypes as the name suggests, are the initial model of a product. Interactive prototypes are wireframes attached together, using tools like InVision. They give a simulation of how a finalized product will function. Prototypes are a great and cost-effective way to depict the structure you are proposing. And they can be used to test your solutions before actual development. As actual development for testing requires significant resources, prototypes perform that function efficiently and inexpensively.
This stage of the UX design process involves the testing and evaluation of your solutions. It is done to identify its usability and viability. You also try to understand the behavior of your solutions so you can improve on them. To evaluate a product, you measure it on various criteria. These criteria involve Content Hierarchy and how your product responds to Discovery and Feedback. You observe your product closely and gather insights. There are various methods of evaluation and they vary concerning the product.
- Usability Testing:
It is a testing method that allows us to identify the ease of use of your product. We consider it being user-friendly while it is tested by real users. Usability Testing includes questions like “Is the product easy to use and learn?”, “Can the product solve the problem?”, “Is the required information accessible to the user?”, “Can a user easily find what he is looking for?” etc. We ask the testers to complete some tasks while designers observe them. Then use the Insights on testing to analyze the performance of the product.
- A/B Testing:
Also known as split testing, designers create two versions of a module on a website or an application. Then test both versions simultaneously on different sets of users to identify which works better. Whichever gives better results is then used on the product. These variations are not always new solutions. But can rather be as small as the change in the alignment of content. It allows teams to make certain design decisions and then test them to gather information on certain user behaviors.
- Tree Testing:
This is another testing technique that allows designers to evaluate the website or application navigation and structure. Users are asked to find specific items or options from the navigation. This type of testing is great for complex systems to make the accessibility better.
UX design process is an iterative process, as mentioned in the start. So you will find yourself jumping from one stage to a few stages back. You might find some insights into the testing phase which leads you to iterate your wireframes. This will happen until your objectives are achieved and the users are satisfied with the outcome. These iterations are a necessity and always lead to the optimal user experience for your product. Better the User Experience, more the User Engagements.
The process is adaptable depending on the product or business you are designing for. Other techniques can be used as there are various methodologies and techniques available in UX design. But the objective is to find a process that works for you. And get to the best UX you can create for the users, and that is all that matters.