UX Design is more than what a user interface looks like and it’s aesthetic appearance.
It’s about how products function and the problems they solve. Design is at the core of every startup to enable it to deliver the solutions users need and continue innovating.
Attracting new customers is one thing. Turning those customers into long-term advocates is another. UX Design or User Experience Design is all about designing an iterating on a solution so customers get the absolute most out of your product. In terms of the problem your product solves, the value it delivers and the experience using it.
This page goes into depth on my process and UX Design methodology. If you’d like to skip this and just talk to me, head over to the contact page and shoot me an email or fill out my free estimate form.
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Use UX design to drive business results
56% RETURN ON INVESTMENTMcKinsey Design Index
32% INCREASE IN REVENUEMcKinsey Design Index
50% MORE LIKELY TO LAUNCHIDEO Creative Difference Study
UX Design uses a number of metrics to make sure your product is Functional, Feasible and Desirable. These metrics can then be used for decision making in the product development process.
Ask yourself what your users should feel when using your product. Should they feel satisfied? Ambivalent? Happy? … or should they be bursting at the seams to tell their colleagues, friends and family about the AMAZING experience they had using your product?
Good UX design makes or breaks products.
Your product could be the next UBER, Trello or Airbnb but if your product UX design is not up-to today’s expectations. Your product will quickly join the millions of unsuccessful startups collecting dust in the cloud.
Best in class product UX design will keep your customers engaged, reduce churn, promote advocacy and increase retention. It will give you a competitive edge and enhance your overall brand.
From strategy to implementation – I’ll collaborate with you to design experiences that could be the difference between your product’s success or failure.
User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s undervalued and underinvested in. If you don’t know user-centered design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.Evan Williams, Co-Founder, Twitter
UX Design Methodology and Process
There are many UX design frameworks that can be used and adapted depending on the nature of the problem that needs solving. As a high-level guide I follow the below theory.
This theory doesn’t apply to everything and often the nature of the project does not allow for many of the below items to be completed. Think of this as the ideal UX Design scenario that can be mixed and matched to suit your situation.
UX Design Phase 1 – Context
As a Freelance UX designer, my initial goal is to gain a deep understanding on the problem your product aims to solve and the market you are solving that problem for.
Keeping your business objectives in mind, the first step of our design process is to conduct research to gain as much context as possible.
I’ll gain a detailed knowledge how people currently solve that problem, the environments that surround them, the scenarios they need to solve the problem and maybe discover problems that you didn’t know existed yet.
I’ll talk to you, your team, your customers, your users, your target customers and gather as much unbiased information as possible to use during the solution phase.
(Who I talk to depends on the scope of project and what stage your product is at. Depending on the nature of the UX work, sometimes research interviews are not needed. Although I still recommend doing them.)
I’ll ask you about existing data and metrics. You’re budget, scope, team, risks, background, goals and whether you like pineapple on pizza…. well maybe not that last one 🙂 .
Context is arguably the most important phase of the engagement. Having the wrong context and making assumptions to what a solution may be is one of the biggest risks in UX design and product management.
UX Design Phase 2 – Experiment
After the Context and Research phase we now will have more questions than answers. Trust me… you will.
We’ll have a bunch of assumptions that will need testing. Well, maybe not all of them but we’ll focus on the assumptions that come with the biggest risk if we don’t validate or invalidate.
This is where we come up our testing hypotheses and design some experiments to prove our assumptions right or wrong.
The terms ‘Hypotheses’ and ‘Experiments’ sound very science’y but that’s exactly the right way to think of a UX experiment. Just like a scientist, a ux designer experiments with different variations until the hypothesis they formed in proved wrong or right.
If an experiment proves your hypothesis was wrong this is just as much of a win as proving a hypotheses right. You may have just save a lot of money by not pursuing your original solution.
In UX design don’t mix test tubes of liquids or study cells under a microscope of course. We take take an experimental approach to designing solutions.
These solutions include:
- Landing pages testing
- UI variants
- Google and Facebook ads
- MVP versions
Each of the above ux design research techniques warrant their own post which i’ll dave for another day.
To summarize all are used to gather data and incrementally refine your solution by testing different variations. This minimizes risk and can save huge amounts of money.
You could skip this step an jump strait to designing an assumed solution but are you willing to take the chance you’re wrong?
UX Design Phase 3 – Architecture
This is where I put all the organic unorganized information I’ve gathered during the context gaining and problem discovery phase into a structure.
I look at the overall system as a concept linking the common threads and grouping relatable information.
I’ll sketch diagrams, draw system maps, create user journeys and organise the disjointed information into a robust structure we can use as the foundation underpinning everything. Some people call this ‘information architecture’
An important result that comes out of this phase is a set of design principles that will be used throughout the product’s lifetime.
UX Design Phase 4 – Mechanics
This phase in the UX Design process is where we start to see a solution coming to life. This is where most UX designers jump to initially (I would call those guys UI designers).
The Mechanics phase is where we determine how the solution will work from a UX design perspective.
Primarily this phase involves sketching and developing wireframes and prototypes to determine the UI structure and information hierarchy so your customer or user can intuitively do what they need to do to solve the problem they’ve hired your product to do.
UX Design Phase 5 – Poetics
I have taken the term ‘Poetics’ from an amazing designer called Christina Wodtke. She explains it better than I could in her article A Unified Theory for Designing Just About Anything but i’ll summarise with my own spin on it here.
Poetics is the feeling your customer or user has when experiencing your product. A digital product’s user experience exists only when someone has experienced it.
You can think of poetics as the subconscious attraction you have to a product. This include the visual aesthetic appearance, animation and tone of the language.
Functionally your product will work with minimum effort given to Poetics. The experience your customer/user has will happen regardless as long as they can complete their task.
Poetics gives a layer of aesthetic delight to your product that enhances the customer/user experience.
This UX design practice is what people gravitate towards as it congers up the nice feelings we get when we look at something beautiful.
Any good UX designer knows the poetic phase comes last. It can even happen after release of your product or feature. You may not want to spend marketing dollars but you can solve the problem without this stage.
UX Design Phase 6 – Measurement
After we have released your product or feature we now need to find out if it is producing the desired results. How do you know your product’s UX is successfully doing what it was designed to do.
In the Context phase we should have defined what metrics and KPI’s we were designing for. We now need to measure product usage to see if those metrics will be achieved and if not what can be refined to increase the chance of success.
I personally like to use Googles HEART framework for UX design measurement. You can read more about it in the article Google’s HEART framework for measuring UX. Or continue here…
HEART stands for: Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task Success.
These metrics cover everything to do with the UX design… and overall product success.