Getting started as a designer can be a hard business. Convoluted descriptions and ideas around what UX requirements and practices can derail the essential process.
Why does UX Matter?
We’ve all been to websites that remind us of the ’90s. Unless you’re too young, in which case, imagine a website with very little interactivity or poor interactivity. The layout is centered, the navigation is playing hide and seek somewhere, and the most important information is part of a scrolling or hypnotically blinking line of text similar to what you see at the bottom of CNN or ESPN.
User experience helps find, understand, address, and learn from product and design challenges. Other ways UX helps teams and end-users:
- Understand demographics, their interests, problems, and goals
- Align user needs with business needs
- Improves ease of use and eliminates barriers or bottlenecks in the user experience
- Assists in design problem solving, wireframes, and prototype development
- Interaction translation (between design/development) and ideation
Who needs UX?
The easy/short answer is everyone, but they may not know it; or know how to integrate it. User experience advocates for the end-user, stakeholders, designers, and needs of the project(s). Often in ways that can initially seem painful if everyone isn’t onboard or is unfamiliar with UX.
- UX can help streamline the production process by making requirements easier to understand between team members (style guides, pattern libraries, user interface specifications, interaction design storyboards) — UX deliverables improve the development and software testing process by getting everyone on the same page early on and defining approved designs
- Improve end-user usability by helping the team and stakeholders better identify and understand needs vs. goals.
- Stakeholders can be happy about improving KPIs and seeing results in analytical/quantifiable reports overtime as UX experiments improve and adjust with business goals
Which methods are needed and when?
Methods are dependent on the project and may change over time. Sounds like a cop out, but it’s true — so let’s just look at a few high level methods and why you might use them on your next project.
- Analytics — are used when you have clearly defined goals that can be tracked quantitatively or qualitatively (numbers vs. feelings). To track quantitatively your goal should be able to be phrased as a number (e.g. I want 10 new followers, 20 newsletter sign ups, a percentage increase in sales, more conversions). To track qualitatively you should be able to track opinions or non-numbers-data (e.g. female vs. male demographics, attitudes, behavioral flows, surveys, opinions, scenario-based results)
- User-centered design (analysis, design, evaluation, implementation)
- Personas — to better understand and help the team identify with a representation of end users.
- Case Studies — behavioral flow examples that may integrate personas to get a better feel and understanding for the end-user.
- Sitemaps — list of all pages on a site to help visualize all pages, the hierarchy or for SEO purposes.
- Wireframe — low fidelity representation of design concepts or functionality placement. Used for rapid prototyping and revisions to get stakeholder signup early before design time.