What Is UX Design and Why It’s Important
To get a full understanding of what UX design process is, it’s crucial to start with a definition of user experience:
It refers to the feelings and emotions which interacting with a product or service evokes in the user. The term was first introduced by Donald Norman, who said that:
“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; it’s about solving their problems by creating meaningful user experiences.
Now that we have the definitions sorted out, you might wonder – why the UX design process is important. Let’s get right to it!
Why UX design matter
Having a UX design process in place brings significant benefits, some of them include:
- Improved user retention – it’s common knowledge that happy customers tend to be more loyal. Building products with your users 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 retention, translates into 25% profit growth.
- Better brand image – in the age of product abundance and similarity, building a good brand image is what makes you stand out. Good UX design is invisible because it makes interacting with your product effortless – no errors, 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. This 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 put above and below the fold. 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 elements.
Research is the backbone of every effective UX design process. It’s necessary to understand user behavior, mindset, goals, and preferences.
Shows the look and feel of the front end of any interface. It uses visual elements such as colors, images, and symbols to communicate a message to the audience.
Another important element of the user experience is information architecture. It’s 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 satisfaction. A properly designed app or a website enables users to easily interact with it from the first use.
Accessibility is also considered one of the user experience elements. The concept revolves around ease of use, reach, and understandability. It’s often viewed in the context of disability i.e. how easy the product is to use by people with disabilities.
The last UX element we’re going to talk about is human-computer interaction. 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 which every effective UX design process should incorporate, these include:
Step 1: Understand the user and the brand
Trying to build a product without understanding your users first is like walking in a jungle without a compass – pretty clueless. Designing the user experience is all about solving user problems, and in order to do that, you need to know what their pain points are. You should find answers to three questions
- What is the issue or issues you aim to resolve?
- What problems do your users have?
- What makes you think you can resolve those problems?
Only after you get a deep understanding of your target audience struggles you can start creating a design strategy.
Step 2: Research: 1:1 interviews, focus groups, surveys
Research is the foundation of every successful UX design process – it helps you verify your hypotheses and saves you from making expensive design mistakes. You can select from a variety of research methods including:
- 1:1 interviews – you can talk to someone from your target audience and ask them direct questions about the problems they face.
- Focus groups – it’s a group discussion of 3-5 people from your target audience; they talk about their emotions, impressions, and attitudes towards your product.
- Surveys – surveys let you gather a lot of data, fast. You can ask specific questions about what users seek in a product or gather feedback on a particular feature or functionality.
Step 3: Analyze your findings: user personas & user journey mapping
Gather and analyze the findings you collected during the previous stages. For this purpose you can use two methods:
Buyer personas – these are profiles of your ideal customers and can include the following information: age, gender, profession, goals, behaviors, spending habits, etc. All your design decisions should revolve around your buyer personas.
User journey mapping – demonstrates step by step how users will interact with your product.
Step 4: Building your design
It’s time to build your design, which will include creating mockups, site maps, user flows, images, colors, etc. It is the right stage to start building wireframes – a basic representation of what your product will do. Bear in mind that it’s a continuous process, not a one-off – you’ll have to constantly modify your design based on user feedback.
Step 5: Launch: beta testing, internal testing, user testing
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 it. After it’s built, there are a few things you can do to ensure its market-readiness:
- Conduct some user testing – observe how your target audience interacts 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 team to “play” with your product and to give you feedback
Step 6: Analyze and re-analyze
After the product launch, you’ll have to take a closer 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
- Did your product manage 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 having a UX design process in place. Not only will it help you achieve product-market fit quicker and boost your conversion, but it will also have a positive impact on your brand image.
The main purpose of a UX design process is to create a great 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 your product prototype, remember to conduct thorough user research, analyze your findings, and never stop improving your product, even after the launch. Good luck!