User experience design is a concept that dates back thousands of years ago but was only echoed in the 1990s by Donald Norman, Apple’s cognitive scientist. It borrows greatly from the ancient Chinese philosophy, Feng Shui that dates back 6,000 years.
The philosophy emphasized on the need to arrange an environment in the most optimal and user-friendly way, whether it is in an office, bedroom or building. The layout, framework, materials and colours should be in sync. Similarly, user experience design is about creating a natural, interactive and user-friendly experience when designing an application, website or any other software product.
The individual tasked with this job is called a UX designer. They not only deal with the graphic design of a product, but also focuses on how the user feels about it and interacts with it. The designer does not use templates to develop UX for various projects as they are all unique. The surging use of the internet, wearable technologies, apps and mobile devices only shows how much the concept will evolve to satisfy the growing needs of users. It requires the designer to perform a study about the user and the product before development commences. A UX designer uses the following steps to achieve these goals.
Research about the Product
The designer studies the user to determine their goals, needs and behaviour. They also perform market research to identify opportunities for the product and understand industry standards. The designer may use sources such as interviews, online surveys and focus groups.
Develop a Persona
The designer then creates personas representing essential segments of the user group. These are characteristics that represent a specific segment of users and their behaviour, which is used to monitor patterns identified during the research. The UX designer then narrates the day-to-day life of the personas, including how the product would fit in to their lives. This narrative is referred to as a scenario.
This step involves the development of the structure of the app, website or product to help the designer determine his current position and if the information available relates to the existing situation. Information architecture allows the designer to create hierarchies, classifications and navigation’s.
Wireframes are design deliverables associated with the user’s experience. They provide a brief representation of how the user will interact with the product and act as a guide for when the development begins. Note that wireframes are not used for testing the product but act as guides to help the designer collect feedback on the design during the initial stages of the research.
Prototyping and Product Testing
The prototype represents the actual product. It is developed to determine how the user will interact with the actual product once it is produced. The designer then releases the final product to determine if the user experiences problems when interacting with it. During product testing, the UX designer may decide to perform an in-person user test to observe the user’s behaviour and gather feedback. This stage enables them to identify areas that need improvement.
Even after the final product is produced, the UX design process does not stop. There will be future refinements and changes based on the feedback gathered and the user’s needs.