User Experience Design Process

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What is User Experience Design?

User Experience is the value that you provide to your user when he is using your product.

User Experience Design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.” — Wikipedia

Developing a user experience to the level of customer satisfaction is not a single person or team’s responsibility, instead it is a company’s vision.

Why User Experience Matters?

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs.

Great user experience design not only highlights and promotes your product, it has become a key part of building and growing customer confidence.

A great product or compelling content without an appealing user experience may affect the ability of an organization to achieve its business goals.

Best Approach to User Experience Design

Good user experience design is always part of product development process.

You interact with your users to build the unique combination of structure, content and user experience that will accomplish required goals in efficient ways.

“The primary factor of your success lies in the fact that you keep your user in center of your design process.”

This approach allows you to create designs that are clean, simple, intuitive, flexible and engaging, and provide a WOW experience to your users and thus differentiate you from your competitors.

User Experience Design Process

User experience design process is an iterative method that helps you continuously improve and polish your designs.

In the process, you go through different stages repeatedly while evaluating your designs on each stage.

Each stage involves relevant stakeholders in your organization that take part in the process to make your products highly efficient and usable.

The design process involves following six stages.

 
Stages of UX Design Process

Below is the detail that highlights stakeholders involved, activities being done and outcomes produced during each stage of the process.

1. Understand

Design solves a problem. In order to provide a solution, you first need to understand the problem.

“Before beginning the design work, let your Design team understand the requirements clearly.”

To analyze requirements, follow industry standard user research methods including contextual and individual interviews, while observing the users in real environment.

Conduct brainstorming sessions with clients and show them your existing products (if any) to get their feedback.

Business Manager is the role in an organization that works directly with clients and gets requirements from them. Design team can work closely with Business Manager to understand users and their needs.

This knowledge about user and his environment helps you to provide a clear direction to your design.

“To be a great designer, you need to look a little deeper into how people think and act.” — Paul Boag

Stakeholders

  • Design Team
  • Business Manager
  • Product Manager

Activities

  • Meet, talk, observe and understand users in their environment
  • Analyze requirements to understand and clarify them
  • Define user personas and use-cases

Outcomes

  • User Personas
  • User Stories
  • Use Cases, User Flows
 
Create User Personas
 
Define Use-cases and User Flow

2. Research

Research is the basic key step to design user experience.

“It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds” — Paula Scher

Design team does their research work to explore how the outer world is working on such features.

Sherif Amin, Product Designer called it as UX Competitive Analysis. He listed three purposes of this analysis:

“(i) Understand market competition

(ii) Learn about your domain

(iii) Get inspirations and ideas from your competitors”

Keep an eye on the latest UI trends, design principles and your existing user experience guidelines.

While doing research, start thinking about possible layouts and options to provide the desired experience.

Stakeholders

  • Design Team

Activities

  • Study of competitors’ approaches
  • Research on similar features in the world
  • Analysis of latest UI/UX trends, design principles and rules
  • Keep an eye on your own UX guidelines

Outcomes

  • A bunch of ideas and material on which you can build your actual design work
 
Collect Ideas Related to Required Feature

3. Sketch

This stage involves UI definition of required feature. Design team drives this activity which is based on the last two stages of the process.

Draw paper sketches, white board flows and wireframes to share your ideas with stakeholders.

This stage itself is an iterative process.

“Designing is not something that you just create and start using it. Draw and draft and redraw and redraft, thus creating an unmatched experience.”

Testing and evaluation of wireframes is part of this stage. Design team builds initial mockups and share with stakeholders to get their input.

Throughout the process, it is important to keep your goal in mind — make a usable design to achieve end user satisfaction.

Stakeholders

  • Design Team
  • Product Managers
  • Technical Experts

Activities

  • Generate ideas and work on basic sketches
  • Brainstorming sessions with stakeholders to get their feedback from technical perspective
  • Re-draw sketches and re-test them with stakeholders

Outcomes

  • Sketches
  • Wireframes, Mockups
  • User flows
 
Create Wireframes

4. Design

Now you have finalized layout and flow of the required interface with you, the next step is to work on final graphics.

Turn the initial mockups and wireframes to great-looking images with theme and styles applied to them.

Preparing and sharing of design specifications (principles, guidelines, colors, typography, iconography) to Development team is also part of this stage.

Stakeholders

  • Design Team
  • Product Managers
  • Business Manager
  • Technical Experts

Activities

  • Design UI images
  • Define final theme, specs, and guidelines required for implementation
  • Design icons to display on screens
  • Sessions with stakeholders to get their feedback from business and technical perspective

Outcomes

  • Design images
  • Detailed design specs like colors, theme, styles, guidelines
  • Icons
 
Design Images Followed by Theme and Style — Windows 8 Box app

5. Implement

Since technical people participate in early stages of the process, they can start implementation while Design phase is in progress.

Development team builds back end functionality first and connects it with UI when they get design artifacts.

It is better that Design team involves in this step to help development phase. While implementing, it is possible to raise the need of minor changes in design.

Stakeholders

  • Development team
  • Design Team

Activities

  • Implement back-end functionality and front interface

Outcomes

  • Developed UI with complete functionality and experience following the designed theme and style
 
Code and Implement Functionality

6. Evaluate

When product features are implemented, the end product is evaluated based on few factors:

  • Whether the system is usable?
  • Is it easy to use for end user?
  • Is it flexible and easy to change?
  • Does it provide the desired solution to user’s problems?
  • Does the product have the credibility that makes someone want to use it because of the experience it provides?

“Design team validates the product in terms of user flow and experience and identify areas where improvements are needed.”

Stakeholders

  • Design Team
  • Product Manager

Activities

  • Go through the flow and feel the experience
  • Perform a comparison of implementation and defined interface

Outcomes

  • User feedback
  • UI audit reports
  • Areas marked where improvement is required
 
Perform User Testing

After this last stage, the process will iterate itself and depending on the required changes, you may go to stage 2, 3 or 4.

The process goes on until the desired experience and customer satisfaction is achieved.

Conclusion

An amazing user experience can only be provided by following an iterative Design process.

All major stakeholders in your company contribute in the process by performing their tasks and duties. This is the only way you can retain your existing users and attract the new ones in this competitive world.

 

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