User Experience

The Process of UX Design (and Its Importance)

Photo courtesy of UX Store 

The UX design process can be an enjoyable process for not only the designer, but the user as well. In this article we will guide you through the process step by step to ensure a pleasant experience for both you and the user. The UX field is a multifaceted experience for the designer and it really is an exciting area of work to be in. There are many benefits to doing the process right and with the user in mind. Before we get into the steps, we need to define what UX design is and why it is important. 

What is UX design and why is it important? 

UX stands for user experience and how the user feels when they use a product or service. Their feedback is important and crucial for you, the designer. UX design is the ability to design something digitally that is easily digestible and understood by the user. 

Having a good UX design will lead your user to a positive experience with your company,  helping you  keep and add to your clientele. 

The step by step process of UX design: 

The UX design process will usually involve six important steps, which will ensure that your user will have a good experience with your design. 

Every experience is different and it really depends on your business and how you are running it. This will determine the personal tailored steps that make your business unique. Take these steps as a loose outline and fit it to your own business and users.

Step one: Understanding your users’ experience 

This is arguably the most important step and will help the next phases run  smoothly. The main interest of UX design is the user itself. Your design is there to solve a problem for the user and create an enjoyable experience with the product. User research and understanding your user is crucial. This will be the starting point to your project and will become the main root that you will constantly return to. 

There are a few ways to conduct good research of your users in order to help you design a better user experience. Big teams and individual designers use this step to really understand the framework of their design. The most important detail here is to empathize with your user. If you are able to put yourself in the shoes of your user, it will become easier to design an interface or platform for them. Another important detail is understanding why or how the user is experiencing a certain problem. Recording all of these results will make the next few steps easier. 

Not only will this benefit the user but it will also benefit your business and how you proceed from there. A good design will always support the designer and the user. 

Step two: Conducting the research 

Once you understand the core issue that needs to be addressed, there are a few methods that can be used to conduct the research. This will create important evidence to really create that solid foundation of your UX design. 

1:1 Interviews 
  • Meet and observe one on one with your user 
  • Analyze and clarify their issues 
  • Come up with a solution that will benefit your user 
Designer research
  • Look into the latest UX trends
  • Talk to other designers about their experiences
  • Study your competitors’ approaches to their interface
Sketching out ideas becomes an essential part of the design process. Photo courtesy of Daria Nepriakhina.

Step three: Sketching out analyzed ideas 

Once you have compiled all the research and completely understand your user's point of view, you can begin to sketch out ideas for improving your designs. One of the most important and most popular among UX designers are user personas. This can outline many important factors that your users are looking for. There are a few important pieces of information that is usually included in user personas: 

  • Persona name
  • Photo of user
  • Demographics of user
  • Goals, wants, needs
  • Frustrations and roadblocks 
  • Spending habits (if applicable)
  • Personality 

User maps have also proven to really work for many designers and users alike. The user map will serve as a visual representation of your user's experiences. User maps foster a user-centric mentality and creates a strong bond between the designer and the user. Many user maps can illustrate certain aspects of the user experience with your company or interface. For example, there are: 

  • Service blueprint
  • User flow
  • Empathy map
  • Experience map

Once you have this information and your user persona, you can begin to work on physically sketching out your design plan. Having a dedicated notebook full of sketches for your ideas will help you in the future and analyzing how the sketching process helped your end goal can be useful as well. This can give you a framework before you actually start designing digitally and it’ll make the actual design process go faster. 

Step four: Design

The next step after your sketching and user mapping is actually building your design. This is where your sketches will come in handy, and having a loose framework can make the process go by faster. Mockups, images and colors, and site maps are common during the design process but exploring different options that fit your users needs is important to take into consideration. 

Wireframing is one of the most crucial steps in designing your mockups. This is the skeleton of your digital design and it creates the framework that makes it easier once you begin to finalize your design. The wireframe is usually a monochromatic drawing that becomes the blueprint. The reason why designers use wireframing is that it offers structure and therefore makes the designer's job a little easier. 

An example of wireframing digitally. Photo courtesy of Visual Design.

Step five: Implementation and prototypes

Finally, after processing the understanding of your users, experiences and conversations with your users, mockups, and wireframes, it’s time to design your interface. You will generally start off with a prototype that will resemble your end vision as closely as possible. This will allow you to explore and play around with different ideas before actually publishing and launching the product of design. With the prototype, you are also able to demonstrate to your team your ideas and offer them a “mock-up” of the real thing. There are a few places online where you are able to create your digital prototypes like Adobe XD and InVision.

Step six:  Launching and user testing

The last step will finally allow you to launch your product and have your users  experience it with you. This becomes one of the most rewarding parts of UX designing because you are clearly able to see and retrace the steps that brought you here. Once you have launched your design, your users will begin to provide you with sufficient feedback that can help tailor the design better. 

The last round of analysis will depend on the user experience. Here are a few questions and criteria to go through once you have collected your data after your initial launch. 

  • Was the design useful for users?
  • What were the main takeaways from this design?
  • Does this design have the users interest in mind?
  • Will it be flexible for change if needed?
  • Did this design solve any problems mentioned in the user personas? 

Overall, the steps mentioned above will help you reflect on the project and how it was a benefit to  you and your users. 

Conclusions and final thoughts:

The UX design process may seem like a lot but when it is broken down into these six steps, it’ll become easier each time you launch a new design. What steps worked for you and were you able to add any other additional steps? After all, this is an article that is tailored to your thoughts and ideas on the process of UX design! 

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