Overview of User Experience Design (UXD)
At the onset of the Internet explosion, many business and technology companies went to market with products that bypassed the very important process of “UXD.” The outcome was a group of digital products (mainly web sites) with unrealized business potential and frustrated users.
Today, most successful businesses employ some level of UXD when deploying their digital products. Still, there’s room for improvement. This blog will help clarify that process while also providing the benefits of taking the necessary up-front time for UXD.
What is UXD?
UXD is the process associated with enhancing a user’s experience within a digital product. For the purposes of this blog, a digital product includes a website or native app for varying devices including desktop, tablet, mobile phone, wearable device, car or TV.
Expanding on this definition, UXD strives to improve usability, accessibility, interaction, and enjoyment between a user and the device using traditional human-computer design along with cutting edge technology and the latest usability best practices. For businesses, UXD is the vital mechanism that connects their business plan with customer experience, conversion and retention through their digital product.
How UXD Works
Within UXD, there are three core phases of work: strategy, design, and implementation. Each core phase has a set of sub tasks and processes that work together to provide businesses with the best UXD. After gaining a preliminary understanding of your project, your UXD team will recommend an approach and list of specific sub tasks for your project.
The first UXD phase, strategy, will set the baseline for your entire user experience. Your typical process will start with stakeholder interviews and work sessions, which help your UXD team better understand your business. During these work sessions, your UXD team will also brainstorm high level ideas with you to gain a better understanding of your vision for the project. From these work sessions and additional research, your UXD team will consolidate their findings and provide recommendations in the following areas: goals and objectives, value proposition, key features and functions, brand attributes, device approach, personalization, testing and analytics.
Based upon approved recommendations, your final UX strategy will be assembled and include your solutions to the recommendations represented as user personas, a sitemap, key tasks flow, low-fidelity wireframes, high-level creative concepts and a project road map.
Once your UXD strategy is complete, the design phase of your project can begin. During this phase, your UXD team will work to define how your digital product works. The first step in this process is to develop detailed high fidelity wireframes that fill in details that are missing in their low-fi wireframes predecessors. These wireframes will also provide a better understanding of what real UI (user interface) elements look like while making it easier to communicate features and functionality with key stakeholders, designers and developers.
Integral to developing your high fidelity wireframes is the definition of the navigation framework and key task flows. Concurrent with the wireframing process, your team UXD creative director will work with you to transition the high-level creative concepts from the strategy phase to visual page designs. This is also the time to start putting your content plan together. And, depending on your project needs, prototyping certain features may be necessary to determine feasibility. The final outcome from this phase is your complete user interface design and the requirements definition necessary for development of your site.
Your digital product is now live and available for your users. However, you have not completed your UXD. In fact, the best way to ensure a great experience, is to provide a path for your business to learn from interactions and to optimize in real time. Methods to accomplish this include leveraging built-in analytics to learn from interactions that come from page views, site use patterns, and responses to A/B, user, and other forms of onsite testing. Key in this analysis is to look at your users’ conversion and retention rates as well as any direct input received from users.
Business Benefits of UXD
UXD may seem like a complex and lengthy process. However, if you work with the right UXD team and take an organized approach, the UXD process can be expeditious and you will realize these benefits your new user centered design (a design focused on validated user needs and best practices instead of business owners likes and dislikes). Some of these realized business benefits are:
- Lower cost of acquisition: A good UXD will ensure that users can find what they need, convert and return – on their own; without intervention. Less intervention equals lower cost of acquisition.
- Lower support cost: Users that can find what they want on your site, need less help which lowers your need for CSR intervention.
- Increased customer retention: Satisfied users return and buy more.
- Increased market share: Satisfied users share the news with their friends which brings in more customers and sales.
- Increased ROI: All of the above equal an awesome return on your UXD investment.