Step by Step Guide of UX Design Process.
As the field of User Experience is getting diversified and expanding over the past few decades, UX Designers are following a plethora of design methodologies. The methodology that a UX Designer follows depend on the problem they’re solving. The process or UX Design Process that they follow, however remains the same- understand and define the problem, experiment, test, and learn from the results.
The success of a product starts with a solid user experience, and in order to create that experience designers follows a UX Design Process to deliver more efficient solutions.
If not for the UX Design process, designer could be completely moving in the dark. UX Design process makes it possible for designers to craft amazing experiences for users.
It is infact very important that you understand that the steps that are followed in UX design process depends on the project, company, and target market. However, we would learn about the complete steps of a UX Design Process.
What is UX Design Process?
User experience (UX) refers to the interaction a user has with a product or service and the experience they have with it. It is in fact a person’s feelings, attitude and emotions they feel while using any product or service.
User experience (UX) design is an Empathy driven process of designing a product or service that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with.
Clear! You can learn about UX , history of UX and responsibilities of UX Designer here.
UX Design process is a process of solving User Problem. It is an iterative method which helps a UX Designer to continuously improve and polish designs based on User Feedback.
It is important that you know that a UX Design process feeds on User Feedback at every step. Without User Feedback you would be shooting in the dark. UX Design Process makes it possible for designers to craft amazing experiences for users. Also, UX process followed by one Designer can be different from another .
While the majority may maintain the same steps however, It usually depends on the resources the organization has and also sometimes depend on the project.
6 Steps of UX Design Process
Step 1 : Understand
UX design is the process of solving a problem for user so that they can achieve their goals easily. In order to do this, the first step is to understand the problem you would solve and the objectives of the organization as well.
There can be multiple ways to do this
- If you working for an agency then ask your clients
- Working for an organization then ask the stakeholders
- Ask for previous research conducted which can include market research, User research, competitor analysis, etc.)
- Speak to the Product Managers as well
- Analyze requirements to understand and clarify them
Getting understanding about two elements is crucial
Understanding these Key elements would help you create a Design Strategy that would align the goals and objectives of User and business . And forms a base for your next step where you would conduct user research to dig deep into the User Problem.
Outcome :-By the end of Step 1, you would get a good understanding of the Design Strategy and objectives of the Organization. This would guide you on how to carry on User Research.
Step 2 : Research
User Experience (UX) research — serves many purposes throughout the design process. It not just helps us to get a clear picture of about users, but also answers key questions like what users think and why they do what they do.
And in order to do so you need to ‘walk their shoes’. You need to learn about the Target Audience Hence, it is extremely essential that user experience research and Design teams conduct user research regularly.
Additionally, It also helps us identify and prove or disprove our assumptions. In Bigger organization, research is conducted by a UX Researcher. However in smaller organizations/startups , a UX Designer has to wear multiple hats to perform multiple jobs.
Primarily, there are two UX Research methods
Exploratory form of the research where the researcher collects verbal, behavioral or observational data which is interpreted to get insights. Most common methods are
1. Focus Groups
Focus Group brings together 6–9 Participant users. The Goal of the Test is to discover what users want from the Product.
Furthermore, conducting Focus Groups allows you to learn about their attitude, opinion and reactions to concepts that you are testing with Users.
2. Contextual Interview
A contextual interview involves one-on-one interaction between user and researcher. And the interaction involves the researcher to watch and observe the user work in their environment; and then discuss those activities with them.
3. User Interview
User interview is one of the most common User research methods. In fact, it provides you the rich information and insights of what your target users think about your new product, site or service.
A User Interview is typically conducted by 2 UX researchers, one to conduct the interview and other to record the interview and take notes.
4. Ethnography Study
Ethnography is a kind of social research. It is type of qualitative research which provides a detailed and in depth description of everyday life and practice taking a wider picture of culture.
Structured way of collecting and analyzing data in numeric form. Analysis, interpretation and presentation of numerical data is done by using Statistical techniques .
Surveys consists of a set of questions to gather wide information on a wide range of topics.It is one of the most common types of quantitative research methods. Survey is an easy way of collecting quantitative data from a large number of users within lesser amount of time.
The questionnaire, or survey is completed by the person being surveyed which may be
- an online questionnaire
- a face-to-face interview
- or a telephone interview.
Outcome :-By the end of Step 2, you would get lot of User insights. This information needs to be then analysed in order to make a sense out of it and learn about key User issues.
Step 3 : Analyze
After you have conducted your Research, you would a plethora of insights which can be quantitative or qualitative. In the next step you have to analyse the information gathered and make connections around it so that you draw some conclusions.
Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution. Moreover, Only after you have detailed information of the wants, needs, and pain-points, you can synthesize the information into an actionable problem statement.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”– Albert Einstein
There are multiple UX Techniques that you can use to Analyze the information
User Persona is a fictional yet realistic representation of Target user of the product. Creating User Personas helps you to identify what the user requirements by understanding their needs, experiences, behaviors and goals.
Affinity Mapping is about finding the user needs from the observations gathered. The goal is to synthesize information gathered into common themes and patterns to discover interesting findings which will help in defining user focused Problem and creating design solution.
An Empathy Map is another method to synthesize the observations to uncover unexpected insights around user needs. Moreover, it can be drawn on a board, paper or table and has four quadrants representing the four key user traits.
By Analysing and Synthesizing the information, you would be able yo Defining your Point-of-view statement which would Define the Right Problem or simply define the Challenge to address.
Based on the information we go ahead and depict paths a user would take to solve the identified problem. Creating these paths help us understand what user will be going through when using product or service. Infact, Only by identifying and depicting such path then you build the best product for them.
Some of the ways you can do it are
Creating User flow is creating Visual representation of specific routes that a user might take while navigating a website or app in order to achieve a goal. The route starts at an entry point and then covers all the steps the user must take to reach a certain outcome.
User Journey map talks about the complete path a User takes while interacting with your company which starts from the awareness stage when they realize they have a need, through all the points of interaction with your brand, and the moment they are satisfied (or not).
Outcome :-By the end of Step 3, you would get a clear understanding of User Issues that would help you to define your Problem Statement. All of this would help you to brainstorm and come up with solutions to solve the User Problem
Step 4 : Sketch Designs
Now, it’s time to actually define how the content on each page should be organized. Furthermore, you have to define how these pages would work together in a way that for user finds that they find the design it intuitive and easy to navigate.
Easiest way to do this is by creating Paper Sketches. Infact creating paper sketches and Prototyping on paper is a quick and cost-effective way to test ideas in the early stages of Product development.
It is very common for designers to move ahead and create Actual UI screens, however it is the best practice to stick the lo-fi first. See, you must spend time on exploring the designs and not creating the designs. And Paper Prototypes lets you do just that.
Creating a Digital App or showing multiple steps to use a physical product- Draw different sketches of the user interface on different piece of paper and simulate interactivity by linking and moving series of paper on table. This is quick and easy, best in the early stages of Product Development.
Make sure you review the design with team members and then move ahead to design it.
Tools Used — Pen and Paper
Outcome :-By the end of Step 4, you would have a Paper representation of your solutions, validated by your Team members and stakeholders. The solution would be then designed in the next step.
Step 5 : Wireframes and Prototype
A wireframe is a static representation or blueprint of the initial product concept however, prototype is a working model of an app or a webpage. Wireframes and prototypes can be low/medium as well as high fidelity.
Wireframing is the stage where you take a concept or design and shape it into something tangible so that you can thoroughly review your work with users and stakeholders and ensure it makes sense.
Creating Wireframes gives Designers the flexibility to play around and do lot of Experimentation . Prototyping helps to review and refine it with the help of User Feedback to turn it into a Polished version that can be Developed to an End Product.
This is often when UI designer comes into the picture to design the high fidelity mockups of the product. It is important to mention here that though UX and UI design needs different skill sets, however Sometimes UX and UI are done by the same person.
Tools Used- There are a lot of tools in the market. some are free and for some you have to pay. Check out this article where you would find 8 important UI tools that you can use to create Designs.
Outcome :-By the end of Step 5, you would get Mockups of your solution to tested with Target Users .
Step 6 : Test Design and Iterate
The next step is to go out and test the Design with end users to gather feedback on it. This feedback will form the basis for further iterations and refinement. You must learn about how they feel and think about it. Learn how they interact with the prototype. Pay attention on the User interactions.
So Test the Design, Get a constructive feedback and iterate it. Get as much critical feedback you can as it will help you to move faster in the Design Process. Additionally, it saves time, effort and money by catching bugs errors usability issues, that you might not have anticipated.
You’ll get to learn if your solution has been validated or if it has to be improved. It might be possible that end user will invalidate the solution and you will have to redefine the problem by empathizing with user. And repeat the entire process again.
Usability testing evaluates the degree to which the system can be used by specified users with
effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use- ISO 9241 Ergonomics of human-system interaction
It is a great method which allows you to improve the Usability of the Product. Usability refers to the ease with which a user can use a product in order to achieve his/her goal and how useful the Product is. A product which is high on usability makes it easy for user to accomplish his/her goals.
2. Concept testing
When you have a big idea, it becomes important to check and evaluate whether or not it would be accepted by people when launched in the market . Concept testing is done to evaluate consumer acceptance for a new product idea.
Concept testing helps to validate as well as refine a product concept by getting feedback directly from target market.
3. First Click Testing
First-click testing is the best way to improve your App/website designs. It allows you to analyze where the User clicks on the screen when the website or app is shown to them.
4. Tree Testing
Tree testing is a usability technique for evaluating the ease with which information can be found in a website. However, unlike Usability testing, Tree Testing is done on the simple version of site structure.
5. Beta Testing
In Beta testing, you test a near-complete product/software/application with end users (called Beta Testers) . Before Launching the product in the market, enough tests need to be carried out to test the functionalities and reporting bugs.
Outcome :-By the end of Step 6, you would get a lot of User Inputs weather the solution solved user problem and uncover Usability Issues. All of this information would be then used to iterate the solution further.
To Sum UP
UX Design process is both. It is iterative in nature and can be entirely unique to your business and product. What it means is that the stages are going to look a lot different for you as compared to somebody else. However, the goal remains the same which is to solve User problems in the most effective and efficient manner.
What is extremely important is to comprehend the psychology of a user and using best UX practices as described in the article. From Team members to stakeholders to Product managers to developers, everybody contributes in the UX Design process by performing their tasks and duties. Hence, as a UX Designer one of the most important skill that you must have is collaboration.
Furthermore, Strong communication and presentation skills; and to be able to articulate and discuss your design decisions with team is important as well.
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References and Further Reading