In your line of work as a UX designer, I’m sure the question “What process do you follow when designing apps and websites?” has come up numerous times. This is a common query because the UX design process is fundamental to the discipline.
There is less likelihood of making a product with good UX without a solid UX design process. On the other hand, it is possible to create fantastic user experiences through a well-defined and executed UX process.
In this article, we will outline the steps involved in UX design, the typical sequence of UX phases, and the techniques employed at each stage.
What does the UX process look like?
The appropriate response to this query is “it depends.” How you go about your work will be affected by the nature of the product you’re developing. A corporate website’s design process will look very different from that of a dating app.
When it comes to user experience (UX), “design thinking” is a term that is generally understood by designers. There are five steps to this procedure: observe, conceptualise, outline, and evaluate. In fact, it is from this idea that the vast majority of design procedures are derived.
To apply design thinking to the product development process, we would use a user experience process that consists of the following five steps:
- Product definition
1. Product definition
Before the product team even begins to build anything, one of the most crucial stages of UX design is completed. You need to know why a product exists before you can create it. The groundwork for the final product is laid during the product definition stage. In this stage, UX designers and other stakeholders discuss the product’s big picture (its concept).
In this stage, you may encounter:
- Key informant interviews are interviews with important stakeholders in an organisation in order to glean information about the organization’s objectives.
- The process of creating a value proposition map involves considering the product’s central features and selling points, as well as the product’s intended audience and their needs. Through the use of value propositions, the team and stakeholders are able to come to a common understanding of the product’s intended function and how it will meet the needs of both customers and the company.
- Designing a rough prototype of the final product; this can be as simple as sketching the product’s basic architecture on paper.
A project’s official beginning is usually marked by a kickoff meeting, which occurs at the end of this stage. All the important people involved in the project will convene for a kickoff meeting to establish realistic goals for the product team and the stakeholders. It discusses the big picture of the product’s goals, the composition of the team that will create the product, the methods of communication that will be used, and the demands of the various parties involved (such as KPIs and how to measure the success of the product).
2. Product research
After the concept has been outlined, the product team will move on to the research phase. Both user research and market research are typically conducted during this stage. A good investment, in the eyes of experienced product designers, research is what informs design decisions and, if done early on, can save a lot of time and money later on.
The time it takes to complete product research varies greatly from one project to the next, depending on a wide range of factors such as the nature and complexity of the product being developed, the schedule, and the accessibility of relevant resources. The following are examples of what this stage may entail:
- Personal, in-depth discussions (IDI). The first step in creating a satisfying product for customers is learning about them. The needs, wants, fears, motivations, and behaviour of the intended audience can be better understood through in-depth interviews.
- Examining the competition. UX designers can learn more about the norms of their field and the market opportunities for their product by conducting research.
From “what” users want/think/need to “why” they want/think/need it, that’s the journey the analysis phase aims to take you on. In this step, designers make sure the team’s key hypotheses hold water.
During this stage of UX design, you’ll most likely encounter:
- Generating representations of target audience members. To better understand who will be using your product, you should create “personas” to represent them. You can use these “personas” as stand-ins for your intended customers when developing your product.
- Making up tales of your users. The designer’s ability to comprehend the product or service’s interactions from the user’s perspective is enhanced by the use of user stories. It is typically defined in the form “As a [user], I aim to [motivation] in order to [objective].”
- Storyboarding. Designers can bridge the gap between user personas and user stories with the aid of storyboarding. It’s a narrative about how a customer uses your product, as the name suggests.
Product designers enter the design phase once they have a firm grasp on their target market’s wants, needs, and expectations. Several tasks, such as designing the information architecture (IA) and the user interface (UI), are being worked on by product teams at this stage. Iterative and highly collaborative, the design phase ensures that all team members have a voice in the final product (meaning that it cycles back upon itself to validate ideas).
Conventionally, the design phase entails
- Sketching. A quick sketch can help us see our thoughts in concrete form. You can do this with a pen and paper, a whiteboard, or a software programme. It’s a great tool to use during brainstorming sessions because it allows the group to see and discuss multiple potential design options at once.
- making a wireframe. A wireframe is a tool used by designers to envision the fundamental layout of a future page, down to the most fundamental elements and how they will interact with one another. Wireframes support the rest of the product and are used as a starting point for mockups and prototypes by designers.
- Making preliminary versions. Wireframes focus on layout and visual hierarchy (how things look), but prototypes focus on how things work (the look and feel). Prototypes range from low-fidelity (clickable wireframes) to high-fidelity representations of a product (coded prototypes).
- Making a design brief for a product. All of the visual design assets that developers will need to convert prototypes into working products are included in the design specifications.
- Building a framework for design. Design systems consisting of components, patterns, and styles are often developed by designers to aid in communication between themselves and developers on large-scale projects.
5. Validation (Testing)
The validation phase of the design process is crucial because it reveals to teams whether or not their design is effective for their users. Since testing with high-fidelity designs yields more insightful feedback from end-users, the validation phase typically kicks off after the high-fidelity design is complete. The team gets buy-in from key stakeholders and actual customers during a round of user testing.
The following are examples of possible steps in the UX validation process:
- Practice what you preach. As soon as the design team has reached a point where the product is usable, internal testing should begin. Each member of the team should put the product through its paces by performing common tasks in order to identify any major usability issues.
- Exercises in testing. It’s crucial to conduct user testing with real people who are a good representation of your intended audience. Moderated and unmoderated usability testing, focus groups, beta testing, and A/B testing are just some of the many approaches you can take.
- Surveys. It is possible to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from actual users by conducting surveys. UX designers can solicit feedback on specific features by including open-ended questions such as “What part of the product do you dislike?”
- Analytics. Clicks, navigation time, search queries, and other quantitative data collected by an analytics tool can provide valuable insight into how users engage with your product.
How to improve the UX design process
Now that you understand the interdependencies between these stages, let’s look at some recommendations for refining the UX design procedure:
Embrace the iterative nature of the design process
User experience design (UX) is an iterative procedure, not a one-time event. There is often a great deal of back and forth between the various stages of the UX process, and they often overlap significantly. Consider the case of research and design: as the UX designer gains a deeper understanding of the problem and the users, he or she may wish to reconsider certain design choices that were made earlier. Realizing that you can never create a flawless design is the first step toward meeting the needs of your target audience.
Focus on creating effective communication
UX designers need excellent communication skills. Good design isn’t just about making something that looks good; it also needs to be communicated effectively. Maintaining everyone’s knowledge of and agreement with the product design decisions necessitates holding regular design review sessions and meetings with stakeholders.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to the UX design procedure. But the end goal of any design process should be the same: to make a fantastic product for your customers. Take what will help your project the most and leave the rest behind; as your product develops, so should your UX process.