Photo of two hands designing and planning. What is UX design and how to start?

What is UX Design?

Paweł Barket

UX Lead Designer | Design Team Leader

Customer satisfaction plays a significant role in your business. It is a key point of differentiation that helps you attract new clients in competitive business environments. Similarly, the effectiveness of an online platform or software is dependent on UX - user experience.

 

Products and services that provide a great user experience are designed not just for its consumption or use, but also for the entire process of purchasing, owning and even troubleshooting. Thus, UX design does not concentrate solely on producing functional products. So what is the secret of designing products with good UX? 

 

What is UX Design - Overview

 

User Experience (UX) design is the method of creating a smooth and meaningful product experience that is relevant and easy-to-use for the target audience. It covers all types of user engagement with a product, service, or organization that make up customer expectations.

 

UX design main goal is to solve the usability problems and create an enjoyable online experience through a combination of beautiful graphics, simple accessibility, and thoughtful user flow.  It's an incredibly diverse discipline that integrates elements of psychology, industry and market analysis, design, and technology trends. Moreover, UX not only refers to digital products: it's an interaction with any product or service you are using which evokes a certain form of experience.

 

The term was coined more than 20 years ago by Don Norman, when he was Apple's Advanced Technology Group vice president. He was interested in all aspects of the entire experience, including industrial and visual design, interface and physical interaction. This is how Don Norman came up with a key phrase ‘user experience’ to encompass all of the various elements that decide how a person feels when interacting with your product.

 

Why is UX important for your business?

 

While developing a website or a mobile app that is aimed at your audience, user experience has a significant value. If you have a boring or hard-to-use product that wasn’t tested by potential customers before, they'll leave disappointed and potentially angry as they can’t achieve their goals (for example, buy a ticket or order a taxi).

 

As Forbes says, An IBM survey of 23,000 executives found that C-Suite executives rely more on their own knowledge and instincts rather than listening to their clients.Psychologists call this the False Consensus Effect. It means that people overestimate to what degree their own beliefs and interests are representative of their clients. This prejudice has led to countless company failures and will continue until the executives begin putting the interests of their customers first.

 

UX, on the contrary, focuses on the connection between us as customers and everyday goods and services, such as websites or applications.You need to make sure that your app or web page shows all of the elements and provides the degree of engagement that will always keep your users coming back for more. Better UX will streamline the purchasing path, shortening customer time from lead to final sale.

 

This, in effect, improves the consistency of your leads - customers who are deeply interested in your product are more likely to use/order it again and recommend to others. You have more chances to receive more conversions from satisfied customers.

 

What does UX design include?

 

Conducting research

 

From our experience, the research phase is the most important in UX design. This may include evaluating what the new product has to offer, interviewing potential customers to identify pain-points and required features, and conducting competitor research and analyzing market data.

Analyzing the target audience and their needs

 

The next step for the UX team is to identify key user groups and create so-called 'user personas'. A persona is a fictitious identity that reflects one of the target groups that may potentially use the future product. This method allows understanding people who will actually use the product including their goals, behaviors, spending habits, pain points, and needs.

 

Designers analyze user problems and check how they can be solved with a new product. Based on this, the UX team creates a functionality list for a product that should be tailored for target group needs and match the business goals at the same time. This combination is crucial.

 

Determining the information architecture 

 

The aim of Information Architecture (IA) is to arrange, mark, and organize a website/app content so that users can find exactly what they need to accomplish the task they want and achieve the goal. A сlear IA means users can quickly locate what they are searching for and navigate intuitively from one page to another without any doubts.

 

Designing user flows and wireframes

 

User flows are flowcharts that represent the entire path taken by a person while using a product, from the point of entry right through to the final interaction. Designing a good customer experience requires a carefully prepared Customer Journey Map. Bear in mind that people are more likely to follow a certain flow based on their previous experience with similar products or services.

 

This is why it's important to conduct market and product research before designing a journey map or user flow. Then, it's time to build a wireframe or a low fidelity representation of the product. Wireframes should look simple and specific, without real design elements, because they are focused on highlighting the interactions and composing the content. They represent every screen or step that customers may take.

 

Creating design prototypes

 

In collaboration with the UX team (if those roles are separated), UI designers start to work on  key visuals and design itself. In other words, it’s the time to focus on color schemes, fonts, other visual elements and to experiment with different layouts. We highly advise using dedicated prototyping tools when building a design prototype. Some common tools for prototyping include Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma.

 

Final testing

 

One of the most common ways on how the UX team can test the product including its design and workflow is to conduct in-person tests and analyze user actions. Collecting and analyzing verbal and non-verbal feedback can definitely help with creating a better user experience. 

 

Who will benefit from UX design?

 

Nowadays building a digital presence (no matter is it a web page or cross-platform mobile app) is essential for any business. To promote their web and mobile apps, businesses rely on attractive interfaces, engaging content, and long-term marketing strategies. Executives should take into consideration UX improvements because of the high level of digital competition and not only. UX design advantages include:

 

Reduced development time and costs

 

Successful UX design is the result of extensive user analysis, Information Architecture design, wireframing, prototyping, testing before coding and final implementation. Just imagine: developers spend 50 percent of their time by solving problems and fixing bugs they could be prevented. In order to avoid this from happening, UX designers are spending hours redesigning and polishing an app to meet end-user needs.

 

Prototypes (as we mentioned, it's one of UX design steps) are used to check app usability and viability (what technology is required to power the UX design). Good prototyping will keep costs down by allowing you to predict more accurately the time and expenses needed for implementation and avoid adding unnecessary features.

 

Improved ROI

 

Return on Investment (ROI) is a financial metric used to measure investment performance. By investments we mean the funds, time, and other resources used for designing and developing a digital project. UX gives benefits due to customer satisfaction, enhanced product performance, or decreased errors.

 

All of this leads to an indirect increase in earnings. Investing in UX may sound like an excessive upfront expense with no immediate return, but in a long-run perspective, it will definitely save you money, time and give your company better ranking in the market. Research from Forrester shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings up to 100 in return.

 

Fast customer acquisition

 

UX design is necessary to achieve consistency as it creates a predictable and comfortable product. It consist of well-known elements such as standard menus and buttons for quick navigation, so your users don't have to take any extra time to learn how to use the app or contact the support team.

 

Increased customer loyalty and retention

 

Customer Journey Maps enables UX team to track the interactions between users and content, determine customer satisfaction level, collect usability scores and collect other important data. All of these metrics, in total, provide the information you may need to optimize the design layout and logic, attract new visitors and, as a consequence, win their loyalty.

 

Lower support costs 

 

When an application is badly constructed, you will have to find, hire and train more support agents which will result in higher costs. The elegant and easy-to-use software, on the contrary, doesn't cause additional questions and decreases the probability that the customer will have to contact the support team.

 

What are the responsibilities of UX designers?

 

No matter if you're designing a brand new product, implementing a new feature, or making improvements to an existing product or service, the UX designer needs to understand what's best for the consumer and the user experience in general. 

 

UX designers must strike a balance between being creative and analytical in order to communicate properly. The creative part included adaptability, communication skills, teamwork, and design thinking. Analytical capabilities combine comprehension of the interface design concepts, market data, knowledge of software tools (Illustrator, Sketch, Adobe XD, and so on), and the ability to convert client goals and priorities into digital experiences.

 

The UX designer role means different things for different companies. Smaller companies, especially startups, tend to look for one UX designer to cover all bases. It can be compared to a generalist who covers all their UX needs (research, user flows, prototypes, tests, and even visual design). Larger organizations with more resources may divide their UX team into more specific roles, with a few people dedicated to certain phases of the UX process. They can distinguish between Information Architects, UX Researchers, Strategists, and others. Bigger businesses can also have a greater variance in the terms of seniority levels (junior, mid, senior, team lead).

 

Despite these variations, there are certain skills and requirements that are common for the majority of designers according to UX flow described before:

 

  • Conduct user research and analyze requirements. Initially, UX designer should make an analysis of business objectives, user needs, brand direction, and product features provided by competitors. This task involves collecting relevant data, interviewing potential users and analyzing data as well as qualitative feedback. All of these actions creates the basis for great design as it allows Managers and UX Designers to avoid assumptions and, on the contrary, make information-driven decisions.

     
  • Define the information architecture and illustrate design ideas.  UX designers visualize the product path in accordance with the data they have gathered about intended customers and their needs. It is crucial to analyze all the steps along the way in which the product can be used by customers.

 

  • Create wireframes and prototypes. After IA is created, it's time to draw a user flow chart and work on a wireframe, and then a product prototype. The software tools mentioned above are required here as they help UX Designers automate the work process and collaborate effectively with other team members and stakeholders.

     
  • Conduct layout adjustments based on user's feedback and tests. Running tests help UX designers figure out what kind of issues consumers have while interacting with a product. Observing customers' behavior and habits when they are using your app or software is one of the best ways to evaluate user experience. If your company has enough budget and time, we encourage you to carry out pre-launch UX Research. That form of research gives you input about usability feedback from customers who represent the target audience. Another efficient method is an A/B testing (testing two different implementations of UX simultaneously) for your website or app will practically prove which layout helps you and your customers accomplish goals better.

 

Final words

 

The idea of UX design is to build the best possible experience by simultaneously uniting various areas, such as graphic design, business research, marketing, content management, user testing, development, and others. Based on our 10-year experience in this area, we know for sure that UX helps businesses to understand exactly what their customer needs and how to deliver goods and services that are built with the user expectations in mind.

 

A professional UX team has comprehensive expertise in graphic design and usability testing, strong expertise of all other technical skills with a combination of soft skills as well.

 

Good UX is important because it goes beyond your product's usability and functionality, and serves as a key factor in a competitive market where consumers can choose from a wide range of products or services that are likely to be similar to yours.

 
Easter egg ;)