When was the last time you had an experience like one of the following?
- An app that provides nice features, but ultimately fails to do what you need it to: “This restaurant app is fantastic, but why can’t I place an order?”
- Not being able to find what you are looking for on a website: “Please just show me where I can buy this!”
These are signs of a poorly designed product
Because of your frustrating experience, you’re likely to move on to the next similar offering. In our age of convenience and options, simply offering a website or app isn’t enough to guarantee customer acquisition and retention. If you aren’t providing an outstanding user experience, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Websites and apps that gain and retain users provide outstanding user experiences (UX) by being useful, delightful, and usable. Oftentimes, you may not even realize what exactly you like about these products or services, they simply do what you expect, seamlessly. These pleasant experiences are the result of meticulous research, brilliant strategy, and precise execution.
So, how do we go about bringing an experience that will delight our customers and users instead of pushing them away? It’s simple. We become better designers.
User Experience Design (UXD) is a transformative way of thinking about design
Whitney Hess, author of Pleasure & Pain, accurately and concisely gives this definition of UXD, “User Experience is a commitment to developing products and services with purpose, compassion, and integrity. It is the never-ending process of seeing the world from the customers’ perspective and working to improve the quality of their lives. It is the never-ending process of maintaining the health of the business and finding new ways to help it grow sustainably. It is the perfect balance between making money and making meaning.”
Many times, designers and developers get caught up in the form or intricacies of the project, altogether neglecting the fact that real, live people have to use the product eventually. There are deadlines, budgets, and high cubical walls that all become barriers for doing proper research, establishing empathy, and testing with the target audience. This is a problem because without a strong emphasis on understanding and meeting the users’ needs, the end product or service has a much higher chance of resulting in failure or mediocrity.
In addition to a shift in mindset, UXD is a professional field of practice that incorporates multiple techniques intended to meet the following goals:
- Expose and validate business requirements and user needs (Discovery)
- Prioritize gathered data, generate ideas, and build consensus (Strategy)
- Rapidly conceptualize, test, and design solutions (Design)
- Validate assumptions and conclusions throughout all project phases (Validation)
Discovery is the preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing what needs to be solved, and gathering evidence and direction on what to do next. Stakeholder interviews, user interviews, and contextual interviews are all critical to this process. Understanding the goals, behaviors, and design elements that should drive the project are the main goals of the discovery phase.
Prior to developing a product or service, it’s beneficial to take a survey of all other similar offerings. The information derived is valuable for providing information like what features users will be expecting, features that you could do better, and features to avoid. Strategy in UX is about understanding where an existing product or process can be improved and communicating this effectively to internal teams and external users through responsive design.
Good design is determined by usability. This process is all about working the information gathered in the discovery and strategy phases into the design effectively. This translates into tangibles like user flows (how users move through the system), wireframes (how the digital interface will look and function), and high-fidelity prototypes (working model of the design to be tested with users).
Once your product is finalized, it’s time for another round of analysis. Some questions you might ask yourself include:
- Where did our process go right? And why?
- Where did we struggle? And why?
- How are our users responding to the product?
- Did it solve their issues and pain points?
- Where can we improve the product?
- What lessons can we take away from this process for future products?
If performed properly, UXD informs design decisions by providing accurate information instead of assumption-based data, eliminating unnecessary spending and efforts on features that aren’t desirable to the user, ensuring project goals are met by first establishing metrics for success and tracking to them, and providing a means for validating overall success with testing and continual iteration.
The Bit-Wizards software engineering team follows a thorough UXD process. If you're working on a new project or are unhappy with something you recently completed, give us a call today! You can count on our experts to carry out your project right the first time.