Following the UX design process doesn’t just give users an intuitive and pleasurable experience it poses an opportunity for designers to iterate and improve their designs.
Everything we design nowadays, from mobile applications to web applications, we make it for people. And understanding the human mind is a crucial element during the UX design process. Failing to do that, we make products that are difficult to use, clunky and hard to understand. But somehow we still neglect the human mind. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have so many bad products on the market. Wouldn’t we?
Most of us think that we already know the human mind or behavior and it’s easy to adapt to their needs. Do a little bit of research, a quick lab test, and we know everything. But we don’t.
In reality, we know only the conscious mind. And that is everything we see the person is doing. But there is much happening in the subconscious that determines a person’s actions.
To analyze that will take us a lot of time and resources. So to make stuff easier to understand, Don Norman, director of The Design Lab at the University of California, suggested the Seven Stages of Action. These stages should make our job easier at understanding human actions and intents when interacting with products.
What is UX Design?
To learn or understand, we need to break down the phrase “UX”, or “user experience”.
In straight forward words, user experience is how user/client feels when they browse or use specific product or services. It includes practical interaction, emotion, behavior, and a person's perceptions.
There are many elements in user experience like Research, Visual Design, Information architecture, Interaction design, Usability, Accessibility, Design, and test.
When we use all these elements in any of the products or services, it refers to the digital design experience.
Why is user experience design important?
User experience design is crucial because it is user-centric; it tries to fulfill the User's need. UX design process aims to provide the right solution to User's problems. Also, UX allows defining a customer flow and journey, which helps the business to make the right decision and changes to be made in product or services.
UX is critical for any complex websites, applications, and products because the end-user should be able to navigate the product quickly.
Neglecting UX may result in poor user experience, and people will not stay on the website or won't coming back to the site. If the user experience is good, we can convert this user into a business lead.
UX design process plays a very vital role in increasing the sales and growth of the business. UX is not limited to only website; UX is essential for websites, mobile applications, software, or any digital products.
UX design improves the user experience and helps to increase the number of satisfied users.
UX Design Process
We have defined seven stages in the UX design process. It's straightforward, and we can use/modify according to needs and requirements. It includes research, wireframes, prototype, design, development, and testing. Let's have a detailed discussion about each stage, and it's importance.
Stage 1: Understand
Before we start with any project, we need to understand the basics. We should have complete information about the user and business. For the success of any product requires this understanding. Homework is essential, and this will help us throughout the project.
1. Your User
2. Your Business
To know Users, we should find out their pain areas. If we can find the pain points of the User, then only we will be able to provide a solution to solve the problem. Find out the User's problem.
- What issue are you trying to solve for the User?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Why are you the one with the answers?
According to the issues and pain areas, you can work on the design and strategy.
You also need to know the business objective and goals. The solution you are going to provide should fulfil the need for User and business.
- What are your company's values and mission?
- How does this project contribute to that goal?
- Is this the right time for your company to be pursuing this project?
As per Peter Morville, the user experience design should be Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible and Credible.
Stage 2: Research
After you recognize that this project is in line together with your core mission, and you recognize what queries you're attempting to unravel, you would like to conduct analysis.
Once you know that the project is in line with the business objective and goal and you identify user problems, you would like to conduct analysis. Your research is going to be the lifeline of your project.
Your entire project depends on the research; it's going to be the foundation.
There are a few methods of user research:
Before UX research, Card sorting was a technique used in psychological research. It's a simple concept.
- Write down words/phrases on cards
- Do the categorization with the help of User
- Also, do the labeling and sorting.
The card sorting technique is very popular. It's effortless, cheap and no extra efforts required.
The Expert Review
This process involves a single expert, who is walking through the user interface and looking for issues related to design, accessibility, and usability. It's quick, easy and cheap. It takes only one single professional to conduct an expert review.
Eye Movement Tracking
This technique can be beneficial to know where your users are looking when they're using your system. It will help you to understand the critical content in your product and give priority to specific content. Clients love eye movement tracking. It's giving an assurance with statistics to the client to invest more in research.
This is when you sit with the actual User and taking the interview. Asking them the issues and the problems they are facing. It can be beneficial because you can see live behavior and their verbal and nonverbal reactions. Interviews can be taken personally or remotely (video calls).
Make a list of questions. Send them to your target audiences. Be very careful while selecting the questions because it's going to be a direct impact on the results. Post this exercise; you will be having useful data about your users' towards a specific topic. It's quick, easy and cheap.
In this technique, you need to observe your target user while using the actual product or service. This example will make this clear. Users buying a mobile on the eCommerce website. How will he search for the mobile and till he purchases the mobile? It's a great opportunity, you can see the actual User using the product or service.
Stage 3: Analyze
This stage involves a detailed analysis of the gathered information in the previous two stages. Here are two ways you can analyze your research.
User personas are fictional characters. This user persona is based on the research done via different methods. It represents the different user types that might use your service, product, or site similarly.
Here's a good example of one:
It helps designers to understand several things about their customers, including their Goals, Background, Age, Gender, Behaviors, Spending habits, Pain points, Needs, etc.
User Journey Maps
A user journey map is a diagram that visually illustrates a user's relationships with a product. It shows a complete journey as a timeline of all touchpoints between a user and a product.
Here's a good example of one:
Benefits of User Journey Maps
- Understanding customer emotions
- Identifying gaps in service or communications
- Reduced costs
- Increased sales
- Greater customer and employee satisfaction
Stage 4: Sketch
Now its time to define UI with the help of analysis done in the previous stage. The design team drives this activity. It includes sketches, user flow, and wireframes. UX designer needs to presents the concept and user flow to the client once he finalizes it after many iterations.
Testing and evaluation of wireframes are part of this stage. Design team builds initial mockups and share with stakeholders to get their input.
- Generate ideas
- Work on basic sketches
- Brainstorming sessions with stakeholders
- Re-draw sketches and evaluate them with stakeholders
- Wireframes, Mockups
- User flows
Stage 5: Design
Once we finalized the layout and user flow of the design, the next step is to create the design. Apply theme and style to your mockups and wireframes, convert them into the final design.
Preparing and sharing of design specifications (principles, guidelines, colors, typography, iconography) to the Development team is also part of this stage. It includes Sitemap, User flow, Mockups, Images, Icons, Colors.
Stage 6: Launch
After designing and redesigning and redesigning and redesigning, it's time to implement. Share everything to the development team to create a high fidelity version of the user interface. You must be waiting for this moment when you can see the final product after a long journey.
Once it is delivered, there are several ways you can go about making sure that the product is perfect (or close to it). You can do User testing, Beta launch or internal testing to check the overall results.
Giving feedback to the development team is very crucial at this stage. It should be clearly communicated so that you can get this rectified immediately.
Stage 7: Evaluate
Once the product is launched, it's time to evaluate.
Some questions you might ask yourself:
- Did our process go right?
- User respond to our products
- Did we able to solve the User's problem?
- Where is the scope of improvement in the product?
- Learning from this process for future products?
We can provide an amazing user experience by following an iterative design process. All major stakeholders, design team, development team, business manager, product manager, and technical expert contribute to the process. This helps to retain the existing User and acquire new users.
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