Working in the creative space online you get to wear many hats. You can be a web designer, a user experience (UX) designer, work on user interfaces (UI), or be a content strategist. Then there are graphics, branding, and more areas where you can find a niche for yourself.
User experience design has been around since the first GUI was built by Xerox. As the need for user-friendly websites and mobile browsing grew, so did the requirement for a specialized UX approach.
UX design is a creative process undertaken during product development that involves market research, strategy, and design. The main goals are to create interactions or interfaces that satisfy users and are efficient and easy to use.
In this post, we discuss the methods and concepts that convert users into customers. Most online users don’t realize that a team or a very skilled individual considered their needs, emotions, and habits during development. Allowing them to complete the tasks and their journey while interacting with your product in a non-fussy and accessible way.
Better Research = Better UX
There’s enough information available today to make market research a better-informed step. Apart from helping you build one cohesive thought process, here are a few more reasons it is a necessary one.
Informed Decisions: First things first, all UX designers must consider that they are probably not the ideal customer for the product they are working on. You can use data and evidence from products in the space to remove assumptions or personal preferences. The information you gather can assist you in matching design decisions with social context to deliver meaning for real users.
Qualitative Aspects: The decisions UX designers make also depend on the intended target audience, their perceptions, and the pain points they experience. Emotions are an important element of UX design too, which can be assessed through surveys, interviews, and eventually user testing.
Focus on Impact: Analyzing current challenges and opportunities focuses your ideas on result-oriented efforts. Even the tiniest details help your users make the choice you desire from them. The impact of happy users is that it makes a good product – great!
Competitive Analysis: Each sector has its fair share of competition, which (thankfully) makes it easier to understand your target customer. With various key metrics, engagement, and analysis you can identify your product’s distinctive selling points and areas where you can dare to be different.
Bottom line: It allows your product to deliver on unmet user needs with its ‘unique value proposition.’
Prototyping & Testing
Once you have your research and defined a UX methodology to follow, you can create some prototypes.
The goal in this phase is to gather as much feedback as possible on the core functionalities and interactions. You can select low-fi for quick iterations, or high-fi for user experience testing. At this stage, use any combination of:
- Paper sketches
- Digital wireframes
- Interactive prototypes
- Functional prototypes
- Virtual reality prototype (if product oriented)
Use moderated sessions to test your prototype user flows, task completion, and overall ease of use.
A step-by-step process would look like this:
- Gather test results
- Identify recurring issues
- Usability problems
- Prioritize critical issues
- Implement changes
- Repeat the testing process
Eventually, you should find your results aligning with your predefined goals and metrics. Your results, and your user personas, provide you with a UX design theory that is user-centered and effective.
One more thing, this phase is iterative, and developing a sound UX strategy will take into account gathering feedback and testing across different user groups. Moving from a more ‘exploratory’ to a ‘confirmatory’ testing process.
Recent Case Study
A recent project involved developing a fitness membership site for a client. I’ve highlighted the process to show you what it looked like.
I had done a site for a similar client a few years back, so I could lean on the experience designing for this target audience. However, the work and user flow are very different today.
- The purpose of the site is to educate and promote low-impact fitness workouts.
- Promote the membership product to visitors.
- Target customers are in their 30s and up, and want a no-equipment and low-impact workout regimen.
- Create articles to attract long-tail keyword-specific searches.
- Look inviting.
After surveying the top competitors in the space we decided on a ‘Hero’ image carousel with a content flow starting with a message, and benefits, moving to a video, membership plans, testimonials, and general information.
After a few iterations, the site is now ready for marketing and a few customers have already signed up.
Iteration and Development
Your final phase involves iterating your prototypes with user feedback and collaboration. Lightweight testing, as part of your development cycle, is the easiest way to gather real-time feedback and perform usability checks.
Remember, the user experience changes with each iteration. So create a framework to measure:
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Task success rates, and
- Conversion metrics
Interviews and user interface (UI) testing sessions can provide a quantitative approach to identifying any pain points.
Once you get to this point, you know how your users are reacting and interacting. Additionally, you will also learn how they think. User psychology plays a huge role in experience and should be a part of your development. Create user personas and establish market goals in this cycle to deliver a final ready-to-promote product.
Ultimately, your UX design process would have built a bridge between design and development with style guides, design specifications, and assets.
Now, you just need a go-to-market (GTM) strategy. But that’s a post for another day.