Every product must fulfill an underlying human need. User experience design is a process of decoding these needs and translating them into products that satiate this need. Everything from drinking a beverage out of a cola bottle to checking in your luggage at the airport is experience design. As a discipline, UX design anticipates the users needs and translates them into a product that the user will consume over and over again. Each step of the interaction is carefully curated and intuitively placed in the process chain to ensure ease and frequency of use.
UX design has been making waves for more the last two decades. However most people from the industry and laymen alike still wonder, “ But, what does a UX designer actually do”? This blog will unravel the mysteries behind the profession and provide a step-by-step insight into the process followed by a UX designer:
Most people browse websites or apps with a set agenda in mind. When it’s an e-commerce website, the end goal is to find and buy a product while in the case of a content-streaming app, it is to watch something we are interested in, subject to our individual tastes and preferences. A UX designer performs the tedious task of investigating finer nuances of user behavior and deducing actionable insights that can be used to create more intuitive products. UX research can be categorised further in the following sections:
Understanding the user is the single most important piece of the puzzle. The UX designer must take the time to understand the user pain-points, past patterns of use and expectations from an ideal product. This can be done through conducting countless in-person interviews, questionnaires and A/B testing schedules to identify opportunities and gaps in the market.
A product cannot exist in isolation. A UX designer must have a holistic understanding of the industry and the competitive marketplace to gauge how their product will perform within the ecosystem.
A UX designer must also understand the vision and objective of the client-side before they start building products. They must keep in mind the business objectives, community objectives, planned company trajectory, and the overall portfolio to align the product offering to its environment.
A UX designer must know what it’s product will be up against in the marketplace. They should analyze the competitor offering in detail to try to understand what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong and how they differentiate themselves in the eyes of the user.
The UX designer must deploy better technology solutions wherever viable to create a better product. Understanding various platforms that the user explores can prove to be insightful.
Persona and Information Architecture
Different users behave differently. User personas are the sketches of the people who are likely to use the digital product. They are created to understand a user psyche, tastes, preference, needs and their movement on the web or app. People who use an app over a period of time generate a lot of data that is indicative of their tastes, preferences, and manner of use. In order to differentiate one predominant user pattern from another, UX designers create user personas that help customize content and user journey for each type of user accordingly.
IA (Information Architecture) is a tree-like structure that lays out each component of the website/ app in the order. The visual order in a website or app structures the natural flow of information on the page. How a user views content on a page is just as important as what he/she sees; the content order has to make logical sense. The IA defines the layout, bundles the content and delivers the resulting product to the end user in a usable way. In any website or app, IA ensures that the UX makes sense.
Simplifying User journey
The purpose of good design is to preempt what the user needs and provide ways to give them that in the shortest time frame possible. A User journey is basically a movement of the user from one page or screen to another while trying to achieve their goal. For example, Instagram has bucketed user’s touchpoints in 7 categories; the feed, search, posting content, notifications, your profile, user stories, and finally, messages. When mapping a user journey you understand what are the most important touchpoints of the users that are most frequently used, and hence, are provided right up-front.
Today UX designers can harness the power of data and machine learning to create experiences that are truly unique to the users. Repeat users can save time when they access the app day after day since the design adapts to save their preferences and make recommendations accordingly. This, in turn, enhances the user experience with time creating more repeat customers.
Prototyping and User Testing
A product prototype performs the critical task of bringing the product idea to life without spending too much money on actual development. The UX designer must prioritize the features that are crucial in the MVP, which should subsequently be subjected to user testing. Prototyping happens in two stages:
- Low fidelity prototypes
Low fidelity prototypes are typically paper-based mockups that bring ideas to life but don’t facilitate user interaction.
- High fidelity prototypes
High fidelity prototypes are digital demos that provide near-perfect visibility of the actual product and are high on user interaction.
Apps and websites that store personal data are increasing the parameters for access on their platform. Single layered password protection is not secure and seems rather cumbersome for repeat users to continuously track. Instead, biometric methods of proving one’s identity, such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans are becoming increasingly popular methods to guard digital products that carry sensitive personal information.
A UX designer performs a dynamic role in today’s technology-driven product environment. From innovating new ideas and translating them into the usable design to deep diving into interesting user problems and tweaking existing solutions, the UX designer is a thought leader in shaping our immediate surroundings and economy at large. Being observant, intuitive and adaptable to change have always been and will continue to be the biggest assets to UX designers and the organization at large. But the product is not complete without UI design, here’s everything that a UI designer does.