Designing a User Centric Product - A User Experience Perspective
User Experience Design is just another way of saying User Centered Design. User Experience Design with time has evolved into a concept where the limelight is always on the User. Only when one can empathise with the user, only when one can deliver a better User Experience of the product.
I shall attempt to explain what the User Centered Design Process/Methodology. No matter what the product is the UX process has some key steps to follow in order to ensure the thinking and processes are in the right direction of achieving the product’s smoother User Experience.
The UX process generally stays the same for any product, which can be modified anytime according to the need and situation of the product. So, this process depends on the kind of product and the kind of User you are developing/designing for.
UX - User Centric Product Design Journey - Key Steps:
Knowing and Understanding the Problem
Defining the Problem and the Target Audience (Your Product’s Users)
Drafting a User Journey
Lo Fidelity Prototypes
Concept Evaluation and Usability Testing
Hi Fidelity, Visual Designing
Developing the Product
A - B Testing
This is where you release the product and the process doesn’t just end there. In order to improve the product’s experience and keep the whole experience smooth for the user you must do the following, post the product’s release
A Follow up Market Research
Designing Next Update Features
Monitoring the data from web analytics
Collect Data from User Groups and Surveys etc.
Note that all of these processes involves the designer to be in a particular mindset where as, he has to constantly be empathising with the user and getting acquainted with the mind space the user is in. All of these processes depend on the kind of product and the kind of user as well. You don’t have to perform each and every process that is there, for every product and user, you just have to know which is useful and which is mandatory depending on the situation and the product.
“UX Design is a Process. UX design is a Mindset.”
If everyone must follow all the steps, UX can be very time consuming and sometimes requires a proper budget to do things. If your company and project have that kind of time and budget, you can always go with doing the whole process and it will get you good results.
Many companies have dedicated Research labs, UX labs and Software’s for User Interviews, Usability Testing, Eye mapping or Eye Movement Tracking, Click Tracking and so on
To ensure similar results and to not go completely off track, these are some key important steps that you can do and keep in mind when you are designing a product to ensure a good UX and also the product to be User Centric.
These also involve the general UX processes -
Understand the Problem:
As a UX Designer you must understand the problem you are trying to solve. It is important to know all the kinds of actors (Who are the stake holders, End Users, The Business etc.) that are involved in a Project. It is your responsibility to understand the problem, keeping in mind the availability of resources, the expected deliverables and the time constraints. Collaborate and Brainstorm:
You must be proactive and should be able to communicate everything to your Team/Stakeholders/ Developers. Collaborate with them and have meetings where you brainstorm ideas of what’s the best that can be done. Get different perspectives on solving the problem from everyone’s mindset and then list down what can be done and what cannot be done. It falls as a responsibility on you as a UIUX designer to take that decision. Create Personas of the Users:
This is where you must understand your user and only after this will you be able to map the ideas and solutions you have, to what kind of a product journey you want to design for your user.
A Persona is just an individual profile we create for different imaginary sets of user groups. We define their Skills, interests, frustrations, pain points, goals, needs and wants.
We just get an idea and validation to what we are going to design and to take a decision if it is the best approach or the best solution for the problem we are trying to solve.
Create a User Journey:
This is where you devise the user’s flow of tasks that he is going to perform in the device be it a Web Solution or an App based solution or any other kind of solution for that matter.
We define the Tasks and create a flow of different kinds of actions that are going to take place. By doing this we get a perspective of the product being built and is easy to check whether we are adding everything that needs to be added to the product and also to check if the product is meeting the end goal.
Design an Information Architecture:
This is where you define the flow of information in your design.
What kind of information is the user going to access on a page or screen and what kind of information is he going to get by performing a particular action is all defined and designed in Information Architecture?
Create Lo-Fidelity Wireframes:
These are just rough sketches of your product on paper.
Designing and drawing out your ideas with the user flow and the user in mind, on paper will give you an idea of how you want to design your product and will get a chance to get to review from all of your team and stakeholders before you actually finalize things and move to Visual design.
Digitize the low fidelity designs and create a prototype with tools like Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch (The current Industry Standard Tools) which are used for Prototyping and Visual Design.
Share those prototypes for reviews and insights with all the necessary personnel.
Make changes and then move to Visual Design.
When you make all your reviews, changes and updates all around the user, keeping the user and his personality at the back of your mind and follow these processes, it will automatically pave way to you in developing a more intuitive and robust User Experience of the product.
Apart from following each and every step, if the person is intuitive enough to understand which process to employ based on the product, UX Design can be really productive and will get you the desired results and it is fun at the end!
“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible.” -
Some Tips to get you through these Processes Easily and Successfully.
Know the difference between the needs and wants of the User -
You would want to solve what is needed to be solved and serve the purpose of the idea, rather than just attend to the user’s wants, which will not add any value to the product. Be wise enough to know the difference.
Familiarize yourself with the UI Principles and have some knowledge of the UX Principles and laws -
When you get acquainted with such laws and principles it would be easy for you to validate your thinking and get a sense of the right direction of approach
Read Books, Blogs and articles as much as you can -
Because UI/UX is so dynamic, you must stay updated and keep yourself Informed.
There are so many design trends and design systems people are coming up with, it is imperative that we at-least know them.
Every leading startup or company have their own design systems where there are a set of rules and resources which the designers are bound to, so that the quality of design is always unto the required standards.
Have an eye for Good Design -
Instead of looking at a blank canvas for half an hour, you can always look for inspirations online. The mind cannot get creative only because you are a designer, you must first look at other designs to start creating your own. Create a mood board of Inspirations. This will help you create something on your own.
Learn new Design and Prototyping Tools -
There are many design tools out there. You don’t need to know them all. Know the best ones out there and stay updated with the newest features and trends. These are some of the tools that are most used by the industry.
Test your designs Frequently -
User Testing or any kind of testing of your designs lets you know what was designed well and what must be improved further to get a better experience of the product
Take criticism positively and be ready to iterate the design, no matter how many times you must until you get the desired output -
As a Designer be it UI UX or a Graphic design always be ready to accept criticism positively and be as patient as you can. Design is a very important part of any software or Product Development Life Cycle and getting the design right is very vital. Iterate and Iterate till you satisfy the purpose and the user.
Design is about solving problems and constantly finding problems and creating solutions for them. Design can be learned. You don’t have to be born with it.