Want a complete guide to the UX design process? We will provide exactly that in this article.
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We first briefly explain what UX design is. Subsequently, we describe the UX design process steps.
A brief introduction to UX design
Let’s understand what UX design is by answering the following questions:
What is “User Experience” (UX)?
ISO defines the term “user experience” as a “person’s perceptions from responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service”. Note how the definition encompasses the user’s experience with products as well as services.
You can see how the definition doesn’t confine UX to digital products. UX pertains to any product.
Note 1: In this guide, we focus on UX design for digital products like websites and apps.
What is UX design?
The term “user experience design” refers to the set of activities that make a user’s experience with a product optimal. Good UX design aims to attract users to a product. Subsequently, it intends to make the user journey fruitful.
Note 2: The UX design process is also called the “UX process”. A UX process is an iterative process. You might need to revisit earlier design phases, therefore, it’s not a linear process.
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When did UX design start?
Observers contend that the discipline of UX design started centuries back, however, the term “UX design” wasn’t in use then. They believe that Leonardo da Vinci, the legendary artist was the first user experience designer.
Many experts and organizations contributed to the growth of this practice. E.g., Toyota had explored the area of human interface with technology. Experts there thought through the human interface with technology deeply, and they delivered great results.
Don Norman, an electrical engineer, and cognitive scientist coined the term “user experience”. UX designers consider his work in this field seminal.
Is UX design the same as UI design?
You might wonder whether UX design is the same as the “User Interface” (UI) design. These two aren’t the same.
When you offer a product, you intend to solve a problem faced by your target audience. Typical users need much more than just your product.
They need sufficient information about the product. Apart from ease of buying your product, they need to ensure customer satisfaction. User journeys encompass all of these.
UX refers to the experience when users interact with all of these arms/services of your company. You want UX designers to optimize this experience.
On the other hand, UI design deals with only the look and feel of your website or app. UX design encompasses UI design and much more. Similarly, UX design isn’t the same as graphic design either.
What are the objectives of UX designers?
UX designers have the following objectives:
- They want to understand the pain points and objectives of end-users.
- UX designers want to create design solutions that meet the needs of users. They intend to design products that fulfill the needs of customers within the constraints of business and technology.
- UX designers want to design usable products.
- They want to design products that offer a delightful experience to customers.
Read the CareerFoundry guide to UX design for more information.
What are the important UX design skills?
The key UX design skills are as follows:
- Creating prototypes;
- Creating wireframes;
- Designing a user flow;
- Developing mockups;
- Good understanding of design concepts;
- Developing a UX design process diagram and visual designs;
- Solid understanding of information architecture;
- Proficiency with design software products like Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, etc.;
- Conducting user research;
- Good understanding of design thinking;
- Conducting usability testing;
- Familiarity with popular software development methodologies like Agile;
- Sufficient understanding of software development processes, methods, and tools.
A UX designer should have the following competencies:
- Passion for excellence;
- Commitment to the project objectives;
- Empathy, which will enable the UX designer to think from the user’s perspective;
- The ability to see the bigger picture;
- Collaboration and teamwork;
- Communication skills including presentation skills.
An overview of the UX design process
Smart UX design teams follow a structured user experience design process. The UI/UX design process steps are as follows:
1. Product definition: The 1st step in the UX design process
Experienced UX professionals need to first focus on the product definition phase, where the UX design process starts. The entire team doesn’t create any functional product at this stage.
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1a. Objectives of the product definition phase
During this phase, the UX team understands why the product is needed. The team understands the context of the product.
This phase answers the following questions:
- What is the product?
- Who will use this product?
- Why will the customers use it?
1b. Key activities in the product definition phase
Since the product definition phase is one of the key phases in the UX design process, the UX team undertakes several important activities. These are as follows:
- Interviewing the stakeholders: UX designers interview the relevant stakeholders. These interviews cover different focus groups. UX designers obtain clarity about the business goals of the organization.
- Mapping the value propositions: This activity helps UX designers to understand the nature of the proposed product. They get on the same page with the business stakeholders about the purpose of the product. A UX designer gets more clarity about the target audience during this stage.
- Creating a conceptual mockup: UX designers create sketches depicting the product architecture, and they can create early mockups.
Refer to the Adobe UX design process guide for more information.
1c. Outcomes of the product definition phase
The UX team conducts a project kick-off meeting at the end of this phase. They use the insights gathered during this phase to conduct this meeting effectively. The kick-off meeting achieves the following:
- It brings different stakeholders to the same page about the purpose of the product.
- The kick-off meeting sets up expectations for the relevant stakeholders and the product team.
- The meeting decides the team structure and communication channels.
- Stakeholders identify the KPIs to monitor the success of the product.
2. Product research: The 2nd step in the UX design process
UX designers now move to the product research phase. Successful companies invest time and money in this phase.
2a. Objectives of the product research phase
Gathering insights directly from users and the market is the key objective. These insights are important since they help UX teams to make the right decisions. A UX design team can only work based on assumptions in the absence of inputs from users.
2b. Key activities in the product research phase
The complexities of the product and project determine the activities in this phase. They might include the following:
- UX research: You observe how a user interacts with a product. By observing the physical interaction, you understand the user’s behavior.
- Market research: You could use market research platforms for this. This might include competitive research.
- Surveys: You might send out survey forms to focus groups or your target audience. Modern survey platforms provide robust analytics.
- User interviews: You might conduct in-depth interviews with individual users. This can help you to understand the objectives of users.
- Creating user personas: UX designers might create user personas to understand the user’s needs. These fictitious characters are realistic representations of users.
2c. Outcomes of the product research phase
UX designers collate the insights gathered during the above-mentioned activities. They formally document the research findings in a structured manner, which helps to create the design specifications. Refer to the Maze guide to UX design for more information.
3. Analysis: The 3rd step in a user experience design project
UX designers collect some insights during the product research phase, however, they gather further insights during the analysis phase. They might also need to refine the insights gathered earlier.
3a. Objectives of the analysis phase
UX designers learn about the needs of the users during the product research phase. They learn about the reasons for these needs during the analysis phase.
If they had understood some of these reasons in the product research phase, then they refine their understanding. UX designers can confirm their assumptions during the analysis phase.
3b. Key activities in the analysis phase
Depending on the complexities of a project, UX designers might need to create user personas during the analysis phase. They can work with the existing user personas in the other projects.
Additionally, UX designers perform the following activities during the analysis phase:
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- Creating user stories: A user story is the smallest piece of work in an Agile project, and it’s written from the perspective of the end-user. Refer to our guide to user stories for more information.
- Creating storyboards: UX designers use storyboards to create visual representations of how users interact with a product. Storyboarding is a technique to show the key elements in how user personas interact with a product.
3c. Outcomes of the analysis phase
UX designers gather validated insights in the analysis phase. At the end of this phase, they validated the assumptions made earlier.
4. Design: The 4th step in the user experience design process
With clarity over the needs of users, UX designers proceed to the design phase.
4a. Objectives of the design phase
UX designers intend to create a functional version of the product design during this phase.
4b. Key activities in the design phase
A UX team undertakes the following activities during this phase:
- Creating the information architecture: UX designers create an information architecture, i.e., the structure of the website or app.
- Developing sketches: The UX team creates sketches to depict the user journey maps. UX designers can create them by drawing on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. They can use software for this too. Team members can present ideas at this stage.
- Building wireframes: The UX team can visualize the key elements of a page by creating wireframes, furthermore, they can visualize the page interfaces.
- Creating prototypes: The UX team might work with the software development team to create prototypes of the product.
- Creating design specifications: UX designers create design specifications that contain visual design assets. Design specifications help the UX team to build the final product from the prototype.
4c. Outcomes of the design phase
The UX team creates the first iteration of the design in this phase.
5. Validation or testing: The 5th step while designing the user experience
Validation is the final stage in the UX design process.
5a. Objectives of the validation phase
The UX team has implemented the design ideas that it had. It needs to validate these ideas, which is the objective of this phase.
5b. Key activities in the validation phase
UX designers undertake the following activities during this phase:
- In-house testing: Team members in the organization test the product and provide feedback.
- User testing: The UX team gets valuable user feedback by having the end-users test the product. UX designers can create the final design based on this feedback.
- Surveys: The UX team can collect user feedback by running surveys.
- Analytics: Website or app-usage analytics helps to validate the design ideas.
5c. Outcomes of the validation phase
The UX team revisits the design based on user testing, usability testing, etc. This phase helps the team to build the final product.
We provided a complete guide to the entire process of UX design. Do you need help with your software development project? Contact DevTeam.Space, and a dedicated account manager will explain how we can help.
A person’s experience while using a digital product determines whether the user will come back to it. Smart UX designers work towards giving a compelling user experience to the target audience. This helps companies retain users of their websites or mobile apps. They get a competitive edge.
A robust UX design is a key to meeting your business goals. You can retain your target users if you have a great UX design. UX designer’s job makes a big impact on software development efforts, therefore, you should certainly have sufficiently experienced designers in your team.
DevTeam.Space has highly competent UX designers, software developers, testers, DevOps engineers, architects, and project managers. We can provide skilled, experienced, and motivated UX designers. Furthermore, we can provide a complete software development team.