What is UX Design and Why is it Important?
To get a full understanding of what UX design process is, it’s crucial to start with a definition of user experience:
To get a full understanding of what the UX design process is, it’s crucial to start with a definition of user experience. It refers to the feelings and emotions that interacting with a product or service evokes in the user. The term was first introduced by Donald Norman, who said:
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”
Going back to UX design, it is the process of designing physical and digital products with the target user in mind. This term is about the design project of solving their problems by creating meaningful user experiences.
Now that we have the definitions sorted, you might wonder why the UX design process is important. Let’s get right to it.
Why UX design matters
Having a UX design process in place brings significant benefits, including:
- Improved user retention – it’s common knowledge that happy customers tend to be more loyal. Building products with your typical user in mind will help you create a more rewarding customer experience, with fewer bugs and roadblocks. This in turn will improve your customer satisfaction resulting in a higher retention rate. And let’s not forget that a 5% increase in user retentiontranslates into 25% profit growth.
- Better brand image – in an age of product abundance and similarity, building a good brand image can be what makes you stand out. Good UX design is invisible because it makes interacting with your product a pleasurable experience, meaning no errors and no confusion. Users who are pleased with your product will talk about it, recommend it to your friends, or share their excitement by writing a positive review. Now, guess what happens when users are dissatisfied with your product – they also talk about it, just more frequently.
- Higher conversion rate – having a well-designed website or an app will help users or visitors easily navigate around it and quickly find the information they look for, which should have a positive impact on your conversion rate. Having a UX design process in place while building your website will help you decide which info to put where - according to the NN Group, there is an 84% difference in how users interact with content above vs below the fold
The Elements of the User Experience Process
Hopefully, by now, we all agree that having an effective UX design process is necessary to build products that customers enjoy interacting with. The primary purpose of a UX design process is creating a great user experience. In order to do that, it’s worth identifying the key UX design tools.
Research is the backbone of every effective UX design process. It’s necessary to understand user goals, behavior, mindset, and preferences.
Shows the look and feel of the front end of any user interface. A design team uses visual elements such as colors, images, and symbols to produce a realistic representation of the product for your audience.
Another important element of the user experience, about organizing and labeling information to make it easily discoverable and helpful to the users. According to Abby Covert, the author of How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody, “Information architecture is the way that we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable”.
Usability refers to the degree a product can be used by a specific target group to realize their goals effectively and efficiently with a desired level of user satisfaction. A properly designed app or a website enables users to easily interact with it from the word go - an aspect that can be verified by usability testing.
This design concept revolves around ease of use, reach, and understandability. It’s often viewed in the context of disabilities, i.e. how easy the product is to use by people with some kind of handicap.
As explained by Wikipedia, “Human-computer interaction is concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them”.
6 Steps to Creating an Effective User Experience Design Process
There are a number of steps that every effective UX design process should incorporate, including:
Step 1: Understand the user and the brand
Trying to build a product without understanding your potential users first is like walking in the dark without a flashlight - pretty clueless. Designing the user experience is all about solving user problems, and you need to know what their pain points are in order to do that. You should find answers to the following three questions:
- What are the issues you are aiming to resolve?
- What problems do your users have?
- What makes you think you can resolve those problems?
Only after you gain a deeper understanding of your target audience’s struggles can you move on to the design phase.
Step 2: Research
This is the foundation of every successful UX design process – it helps you verify your hypotheses and saves you from making expensive mistakes in your design principles. You can select from a variety of research methods including:
- 1:1 interviews – talk to someone from your target audience and ask them direct questions about the problems they face.
- Focus groups – discussions between 3-5 people from your target audience who talk about their emotions, impressions, and attitudes towards your product.
- User surveys – let you quickly gather a lot of data. You can conduct user interviews, ask specific survey questions about what they seek in a product, or gather feedback on a particular feature or functionality.
Step 3: Analyze your findings
Gather and analyze the findings you collected during the previous stages for coming up with a buyer persona and customer journey map:
User personas – these are profiles of your ideal customers, including age, gender, profession, goals, behaviors, and spending habits, etc. All of your product design decisions should revolve around your buyer personas.
User journey maps – demonstrate step by step how users will interact with your product.
Step 4: Building your design
This stage will include creating mockups, site maps, user flows, images, and colors, etc. It’s the right time to start building wireframes, which are a basic visual representation of what your product will do. Bear in mind that this is a continuous process, not a one-off – you’ll have to constantly modify your design based on user feedback.
Step 5: Launch
When you feel like your design is as good as it can be (at least at this stage), it’s launch time – you’ll pass on all the materials to the development team to build a high-fidelity version of your product. After it’s built, you can carry out beta testing, internal testing, and user testing to ensure your product’s market-readiness:
- Conduct some user testing – observe how your target customers interact with your product to spot any roadblocks.
- Beta launch – release the product to a limited number of users so they can take it for a test drive.
- Internal testing – ask your own product team to “play” with your product and to give you feedback.
Step 6: Analyze and re-analyze
After the product launch, you’ll need to take a close look at the results. However, instead of looking at research, you’ll be able to analyze the final product. It’s worth thinking about:
- your struggle areas
- what you did right
- if your product managed to solve your target audience’s problems
- what features or functionalities require improvement, etc.
Getting answers to the above questions will not only allow you to enhance your UX design process, but it will also give you insights on how to improve your product to better meet user expectations.
You can’t build a product that your target audience will love without an effective UX design process. Having one in place will not only help you achieve product-market fit quicker and boost your conversion, but it will also have a positive impact on your brand image and help you achieve your business goals faster.
The main purpose of a UX design process is to create an amazing user experience. For this reason, it’s worth remembering what the UX elements are: research, visual design, information architecture, usability, accessibility, and human-computer interaction. Before you start building a high-fidelity prototype product, remember to conduct thorough user research, analyze your findings with user journey maps, and never stop the iterative process of improving your product even after the initial launch. Good luck.