What Is The UX (User Experience) Design Process?
In today’s saturated marketplaces, user experience is a critical differentiator. The UX design process helps businesses create products and services that meet changing consumer expectations, all while minimising friction.
In this article, we’ll examine UX and detail the user experience design steps that, when followed rigorously, can repay your company in dividends.
What is UX design?
You’ve heard the term before. Maybe you’ve even dabbled in the product design UX process or app UX design process. But what actually is UX design? And why is it so critical to a product’s success?
Here’s a succinct definition:
User experience (UX) is a person’s response to the use or anticipated use of a product or service.
The goal of UX design, therefore, is to make that response as positive as it can possibly be. It’s about the customer journey – excellent UX attracts a user to a website or digital product, guides them from the homepage to the product or feature they want, and makes it easy to checkout or achieve the desired goal.
It doesn’t matter if you are creating a social networking app or offering lawn mowing services; every business provides some kind of UX. By working through the UX design process, a business can achieve their vision, attract the right kinds of users, and ultimately raise their bottom line.
Why is UX design important?
The fundamental goal of your business is to inspire action – action to hit download, action to checkout, action to share on social media. Excellent UX design promotes this goal by:
- Improving the product experience for the user
- Enabling good user experience to increase adoption of that product
Good UX attracts users. Poor UX turns them away. It’s that simple.
Product design UX process step-by-step
Now, let’s break down the UX design process step-by-step.
Step 1: User research
Every UX designer starts the UI/UX design process with user research. This preliminary step is fundamental as it teaches us about our target audience, their behaviours, motivations, aspirations, pain points, and needs.
User research also enlightens us as to how users currently navigate our system. Where do problems occur? Which areas already provide a positive user experience? How do users feel when interacting with our product?
Regardless of the size and scale of your operation, user research is not a step that can be skipped.
Think about it this way: Have you ever written an important email, read it over and over again, pressed send, and then checked back a few hours later only to spot a glaring typo?
As the developer of your product, you are, by default, the expert. But sometimes you can get too close to the design. Errors, missteps, and unfounded assumptions are just like typos – they can be impossible to identify when we are too familiar with a product. What you think is intuitive to your users might, in fact, be confusing and frustrating. And that’s why it’s essential to conduct research on real-life users.
How to conduct user research
User experience design research will involve a combination of listening to users and observing users. Both provide valuable insight that can help shape your user experience interface design.
Some common examples of research methods include:
- Persona creation
- User testing
Step 2: Information architecture, wireframing, and prototyping
Step two is all about creating something tangible to test on potential users. This is achieved through three distinct processes: information architecture, wireframing, and prototyping.
Have you ever visited a website and felt lost and overwhelmed, unsure of where to click to get the information you are searching for? Most of us have, and this results in a bad user experience. To avoid this, UX design teams undergo a process called information architecture (IA).
The purpose of IA is to structure, name, and organise content in a way that makes sense. An integral part of user experience design, IA ensures users have a clear path toward their goal. It helps designers conceptualise how each piece of the system fits together, allowing them to create a logical structure that makes sense to the end-user.
Wireframing is an illustration or diagram of an app, software, system, or website that details the following critical features:
- The distribution of images and content
- The allocation of space
- Content hierarchy
- Available functions
- Behaviours and actions that are possible, encouraged, and intended
Prototyping is the creation of a draft version of your site, app, or product. Ideally, it should be as close to the finished product as possible. For example, if you are working through the app UX design process, the prototyping phase will likely involve a visual representation of the user interface that can be tested before coding begins.
Prototyping allows teams to experiment and check the functionality and usability of their design.
Step 3: User testing
Now, it’s time to put your product in the hands of real-world users and see how it fares.
Testing is a critical part of any UX designer’s job and a fundamental element of the UX design process. The testing stage allows us to improve on our design by testing whether or not our ideas stand up to user scrutiny in the real world. From there, we can make any necessary changes and alleviate any friction before we begin the implementation phase.
Just remember, proper testing must involve people that fall into your target demographic. Showing your friends and family just won’t cut it.
Once rigorous testing and optimisation are complete, it’s time for design and build phase.
Step 4: Design & Build
Once all your assumptions and tests have been proven and refined with your target users you can begin the final design and construction stage of the project. This is left till last because it’s far more resource intensive to design and build and iterate on a final product, hence it’s smarter to user test on a draft prototype.
Once design and build is complete your product is ready to hit the market.
Starting a new project?
The Bapple team provides strategic UX design services that champion insight-led web designs and conversion rate optimisation. If you are kick-starting a new project and need a dedicated group of experienced designers on board, get in touch today or check out our past projects. We are your high-performance UX design agency here in Sydney.
Other articles by Bapple— 6 Reasons Why Content Is So Important For Great Web Design
— Why UX design is crucial for CRO?
— Practical tips for reducing your bounce rate and improving CRO.
— Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Business Websites