User Experience Design, as the name suggests, is all about the user’s experience of interacting with a product or a service.
To design a great UI, one must be aware of the concepts of UX design too. It helps the designer adopt an empathetic approach.
When combined with their expertise in tools and technology, proper designs generate profitable results.
UX Design revolves around a plethora of psychological concepts, whose conclusions are pretty subjective. It varies according to the industry, demographics, business requirements, and many other factors.
The UX design process divides into four key phases; user research, design, testing, and implementation, iteratively. We may be in our testing phase, but we are liable to revisit the first phase of user research.
Because new issues pop up, and our perspectives may change from time to time in our UI design journey. Now, let us look at the steps in the UX design process:
User research is the backbone of the UX design process. The notion that we do not know our users, helps us create better UX designs!
It allows us to adopt a growth mindset and gather direct and indirect inputs from our target audience. In this phase, we interact with several groups of users from different backgrounds and with different experiences, who are a part of your target audience.
For example, a social media application may include users from various countries, age groups, disabilities, etc. We try to understand user behavior by conducting interviews, online surveys, and user testing. We may ask questions to the user or allow them to interact with the UI.
We get direct answers at times, yet it does not suffice.
The real catch lies in the interactions and emotions of the user. We UX researchers must decode this. Based on our observations, we create user personas to refine our results. It helps us to filter assumptions, gain new insights. Now, we can devise a plan that aligns with our capabilities and business requirements.
Wireframing and Prototyping
In this step, we develop a tangible to test on the live and potential users, based on the inputs from the previous steps.
Here we focus on information hierarchy, and most importantly, usability. The wireframes are skeletal versions of the end designs.
It illustrates the website or app page with factors like space allocation, content prioritization, functional availability, behavior intention, and accommodation.
To put it in simple words, they are the pencil sketches of the final UI. A digitized version of the wireframe is the prototype. We can create prototypes with tools like Figma, InVision, AdobeXD, Balsamiq, etc. We can create more than one prototype to explore which idea works the best for ourselves and our dear users!
We use card sorting techniques to prioritize our features in the wireframe. For example, on Instagram, when we open the app, we get the short stories at the topmost part of the page, later we get to see the posts. The chat options, reels, suggested posts, etc. occupy different spaces in the application.
Now, it’s the showdown time for our prototype! The deliverable in the previous step is given to the users for interaction and feedback. Here we get to identify the problems and issues encountered by the user.
This step may require us to trace back to any of the previous steps. It may seem to be an extra workload, but anything to increase user satisfaction and our company’s reputation is worth the hustle!
Usability testing is conducted through various methods. It is carried out by questionnaires, simple observations, surveys, interviews, heatmaps, etc. The tester or moderator asks the participants to perform tasks, using the prototypes of the UI.
The interactions are heat mapped; clicks and navigations on the prototype are traced using tools. The person’s reactions are observed for each move. Sometimes, the participant is asked to talk out loud upon each interaction with the moderators, to gain better insights.
The tester/moderator should ensure that they do not influence the participant in any way, as it tampers the results. The tasks are planned realistically. The tasks may be direct or indirect.
For example, adding a product to the cart from their Wishlist, or getting rid of an error message in the app. The tasks are curated in a way that the task wordings do not distract the participant or lead to misinterpretation. The users can be active people who use the exact product or even people using similar products.
Usability testing can be qualitative or quantitative. While qualitative testing focuses more on behavioral insights and analytics, quantitated testing shifts the focus on pre-defined targets and metrics.
A few metrics are the number of clicks to complete a task, task time, and success. While qualitative testing results aid in our UX design process, quantitative testing helps to collect benchmarks.
Remote testing is when the moderator and participant are in different physical locations. We use video conferencing and screen sharing software like zoom, skype, GoToMeeting, etc. We can also conduct A/B testing to choose between any two iterations.
Implementation of the User Experience Design
Once the prototype is finalized, the UX designer hands it out to the UI designer, who works on the aesthetics and functional aspects of the UI.
The role of a UX designer at this phase depends upon the type of the organization. In the case of a startup, the UX designer works along with the UI designer and can view the final version.
If the organization is larger, the User Experience Design team is kept in the loop but isn’t involved in the hands-on part of the design. However, the UX designer constantly works on feedbacks, news, trend analysis, task refining, etc., and documents their findings for future projects.