UX design, a commonly used term these days. But where does it come from, and what does it mean? The term UX or ‘User Experience’ is invented, or rather first named by Don Norman in the 1990s. For those who don’t know Don Norman, he’s well known from the ‘Norman doors’. Some doors require printed instructions to operate, while others are so poorly designed that they lead people to do the exact opposite of what they need to do to open them. Their shapes or details may suggest that pushing should work, when in fact pulling is required (or the other way around).(99PI, 2016) For your brain it’s the same as reading this ‘blue’, do you feel it? That’s because a handle instinctively invites a user to pull and a plate is there to be pushed. If you want to learn more about Norman and his work, you need to read the book “The Design of Everyday Things”, it’s a nice read.
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and it’s products.” – D. Norman
In digital design, people think that UX is just about designing interfaces for consumers. But in fact, it’s a lot more. A successful UX designer needs to be great at different disciplines at the same time. First, a lot has to do with business, consulting and marketing. Commonly known as business strategy and market research. You’ll need expertise in those fields when you’re defining a need or problem for a certain business or corporation. When you defined your problem, you’ll need to dive deeper into user- and design research.
You know when you’re done, if you can confidently answer questions like, “What are the user’s needs and project objectives? What do real (read; not you nor the client) people want? How can we serve them?” If you gathered all the required information, you’ll redefine the problem into a project scope. A very useful technique from the book Sprint of Google is asking “How might we” questions. It transforms the strategy into requirements, and it allows you to start thinking of what content and which features will the site/app need to entail.
The next steps in the design process contain workshops where ideation, prioritizing and conceptualization are key. In this phase, you’ll need expertise in design – and business strategy.
At the beginning, it’s normal that you don’t have a damn clue what the solution is going to be, so don’t panic and retain your clients’ trust. When all the walls are covered with post-its, it’s time to prioritize all the different ideas. Start voting and rearrange it into different concepts, or just one MVP. It will all become clear once you start designing a storyboard, for me personally, this is the most fun part of the process.
Now the bigger picture of the solution is clear, you’ll need to think about the benefits of your product. What will be the main reason consumers will use your product? A very useful tip is to start with the onboarding page. For the onboarding you need to come up with very good steps to show the added value. If you don’t have an idea how other designers do it, go to the website useronboard.com for inspiration.
The solution becomes more tangible. You’ll build the first blocks of your product but they’re embedded in an information architecture. This is the way we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable. Only trained people will notice this in an app, but is essential for the product. A good technique to get an overview of all different parts is an user flow. This comes in handy when you’re trying to represent a specific person traveling trough an information space. Another useful technique to represent how content is hierarchically organized, is taxonomy. It’s the information backbone of the product. (A. Keeble, 2018)
“The mind’s eye does not naturally distinguish between individual elements and compromise an interactive system.” – J.J. Garett, Elements of User experience.
In my job as a UX designer, I learn the most from usability, it’s the moment when you look at your product through the eyes of a stranger. It is not because everything makes sense to you, it will be the same for someone else. Always start with low fidelity prototypes and test it out with users. For me, a low fidelity prototype is just a collection of sketched wireframes, where the user isn’t distracted by colors and other details. I will gather all feedback and prioritize my next steps before I start designing the high-fidelity prototypes. The best amount of test users is 6 to 8 people. That’s the amount where you will start to notice trends. The more you experiment with users, the better your product market fit will be, and that’s what defines a digital product. You’re looking for failures in your product, but it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it. With a list of possible improvements, you will redesign your product to make it more user-friendly.
As a designer you’ll need to keep up with everything, so try to improve yourself continuously. Read books/articles, take courses, listen to the people and also observe them in their daily routine. If you know in which discipline you want to make an improvement, write it down and revise it frequently. Below, I’ll give you a framework which is very useful to drive your improvement. The funny thing is that the more you know from a certain discipline, the less you score yourself in the framework. Thanks for reading my article, I hoped it was helpful for you and feel free to ask me questions, I prefer a dialogue.