A well-defined UX process makes it possible to create a better user experience. It starts with understanding the users’ psychology — what people want — and applying best UX practices to create an exceptional experience. This guide will walk you through the UX design process step by step. But first, let’s understand what exactly is UX design.
UX is the quality of experience that a user goes through while interacting with a product — be it a website, a custom web application, or a system. A number of aspects contribute to this which may translate into either good or bad experiences.
UX design is what ensures that your users get the best possible experience by understanding and keeping their needs at the forefront. It considers every element that can shape the experience — be it onboarding for first-time users, exceptionally easy findability, reducing the number of steps in the customer journey, or extremely simple sign-ups and checkouts. UX design creates an altogether pleasant and efficient experience for the user.
Consider this example.
(A size chart measurement on the product page to help customers buy the perfect fit.)
Many online buyers are skeptical whether the clothes will fit them well. So to help them buy the perfect size, the e-commerce stores add an option to measure and understand the size chart. Thus helping customers buy the right fitted clothes online, reducing the friction during the buying journey on the app, and adding value to the overall experience.
But UX is not just about user experience.
It also helps the business achieve its goals.
After all, any product created to carry out business must meet its needs. An example of this can be an effective signup or checkout process that not only makes things easier for users but also improves the acquisition and sales for the business.
Mailchimp’s signup screen is a good example. Many times menus can be distracting and the users would click on other options instead of signing up. So Mailchimp removed the menu and other distractions on the signup screen — letting users focus on what really matters.
(Mailchimp’s sign up screen — example of the business side of UX)
Focus on the user and all else will follow.
— Rule #1, Google’s “Ten Things” Philosophy
That rule from Google’s “Ten Things” Philosophy alone tells enough about the importance of UX.
UX design helps you create a product that’s user-focused, making it more useful and delightful for them. And this is what increases the user’s engagement and conversion. Here’re some of the reasons why UX design is important for your product.
UX is not just a “nice to have” but a “must-have” for your product. It separates great and successful from average-performing ones.
Just think about the brands like Google, Apple, Amazon, or the immensely successful products — Slack, Uber, Dropbox, Netflix — all of them provide a superior experience. Such companies have invested in designing a better UX, contributing a huge to their growth and success.
With that said, let’s dive into the UX design process.
Research is the first and most important stage of the UX design process. It feeds you with the knowledge to make the right decisions, create the right designs, and pretty much everything in the later stages. So it is something that your entire process is based on.
When you do UX research, you are taking out any guesswork and assumptions about what the users want. You’re building an accurate understanding of how users feel, what motivates them, and what are their desires and interests.
This way, you can really empathize and understand the users and build the product that fulfills the needs.
Also, keep in mind that business research is equally essential as user research. You need to gather enough information and understanding from the business perspective. Here, let’s check the research methods used during this stage.
Interviews are one of the best ways to connect with your users personally and gather vital data.
You sit down with the user from the same target demographic and have an in-depth discussion to discover their needs, requirements, things they struggle with, pain points, things they would like to have in the product, etc.
The goal during the interview is to get as much information as possible. So it is essential to listen well during the interview. Ensure that the interview is conversational, helping them to open their deep beliefs. Though the personal 1-1 interview helps you understand the verbal and nonverbal reactions, you can always conduct interviews over the phone or video. Here are some of the tools to use for remote interview
Surveys are effective research tools to understand user’s preferences and attitudes about specific topics.
You create a precise questionnaire and send it to your target audience to understand their preference. This is a great tool to get information on a large scale. You can add a variety of questions, both closed-ended and open-ended — such as yes/no answers, ratings, and opinions & thoughts that gives you a good mixture of qualitative and quantitative data.
While creating the surveys, ensure that the questions are simple, clear, short, and in a flow — making it easy for the users to understand and answer. These tools can be handy to survey the audience:
Analytics provides vital metrics about the products and services about what’s performing well and what needs to be improved. These analytics can be useful for both web-based products like websites and web apps as well as mobile apps.
Some of the important metrics to consider are click-through rates, page views, exit rates, average session time, and bounce rate. These are some of the vital data when it comes to redesigning or optimizing your current product or app.
(An example of website analysis with Google analytics)
Competitor analysis involves identifying the competitors in the market and evaluating their products. This gives you an idea about what’s good about their product and what are the weaknesses, and how does your target audience feel about it. All vital information can be used to create a better product. In fact, a competitive analysis can be a great way to start your UX design research.
Conducting workshops are a great way to understand the business perspective of the product. These workshops usually involve the business stakeholders, conducting discussions, and exercises to understand their vision. This ensures that the designs you create also fulfill the business requirements.
Usability testing is something you do when you have functional prototypes. But you can even perform it during the research stage with your competitor’s products. This will give you crucial insights into how people use it and what they are really looking for beforehand.
Personas are research-based fictional characters that represent your target users. This represents how your target user looks like including their demographics, interests, behaviors, pain points, and goals. Creating personas helps designers understand the users in a better way. Further, personas are also easier to comprehend than lengthy research reports.
(An example of persona. Source: Venngage)
The design stage in the UX process is when your product starts taking a tangible shape. All the information collected during the research is translated into designs — information architecture, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.
(Example of Spotify’s information architecture)
Information architecture is the structure of the product. It links different parts and pages of the website or the app together as per the categories and hierarchy. This makes it easy to find things and create a meaningful user journey. You can consider information architecture as a structure and navigation system that’s functional and appropriately meets the user’s perception.
To create it, start with understanding the task model and user’s journey.
The user’s task model is the series of steps that users go through and the decisions they make to complete the specific tasks. It even includes the tasks that users may perform outside your product. For example, checking reviews or scrounging through the discount coupons on third-party websites.
User journey includes the tasks that the users perform on the product to reach from point A to point B. An example of this is searching the product, adding it to the cart, and proceeding through the checkout.
These will help you understand what the user goes through to perform a task or reach the decision. Once you understand that, you can break down the tasks and create an information architecture. You can divide the information architecture into 3 parts:
The next step in the UX design process is to create wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. This is where you can start seeing your designs come to life.
Wireframes: Wireframes are the blueprint of each page or screen. It represents the design of the page, the layout, visual hierarchy of the elements like the images, button, content, etc. These can be low fidelity or high fidelity.
(Example of a wireframe)
While creating wireframes, you just need to focus on the functionality without bothering to make it look pretty. You need to create a representation of something that meets the users and business needs and enables getting feedback.
Mockups: With mockups, you go even further in realizing your design. These are the actual graphic and design representation of the pages based on the wireframes.
Prototypes: Prototypes are the final version of the design, a close representation of the final product with navigation, visual elements, and functional interaction. This helps you get the feel of the actual product without any coding. Thus, you can explore, tweak and check the functionality before sending it to the developers.
(Example of a prototype)
Some tools used during this stage:
Once you have the fully realized version of your design — the prototypes, it’s time to put it to the test.
You can perform usability testing by putting the design in front of the users to go through it. Start by providing specific tasks that you want them to perform on the platform.
For example, if it’s an e-commerce store ask them to search the product and complete the purchase. Observe how easily they could navigate — what made things easy and is there any friction during the process? Collect the information that you can use to optimize the designs.
It is great if you can perform the usability testing in person as it gives you a better opportunity to analyze and observe the user’s reaction and experience. But if that’s not possible, even remote testing can give you vital information.
One thing to remember is that testing early and testing frequently throughout the UX design process helps resolve the red flags early on. When you test along at each stage — while creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes before handing the design to the developers, your final product has already gone through multiple testing. This ensures that the final product is already user-approved and as desired.
Once your designs go through testing, you’ll have some red flags and design problems to resolve. This is the stage where you optimize it.
Remember, UX design is an iterative process that may need several back-and-forths of design, testing, and optimizing. And this is an important aspect of UX, you keep on learning and improving the designs to make them better.
UX has now reached the status of science. Following the definite principles, practices, and more importantly — a process can inevitably create a pleasant and fulfilling user experience. Use this process to create a great product for your users and in case you need some expert assistance to level up your UX, feel free to get in touch with us.