UX has been something more and more requested by businesses, and it isn’t a surprise why they do so. Netflix, Pinterest, and Slack are some of the companies that proved how much of a difference UX could make in a company’s revenue and overall brand loyalty.
When did UX appear?
It all started with Don Norman in 1995 (at least formally). Norman was formed in engineering and psychology when he was hired to work for Apple.
He was the first to think about the user experience as an essential part of the design process, and the first one to include it in a job role – User Experience Architect. Since that time, he is considered one of the most important figures in the UX world.
UX steps and approaches
A lot has changed since. Consumers became more aware of their choices and also more particular about their consumption habits and purchases. Because of that, multiple approaches were developed over the years. Design Thinking (1987), Lean UX (2008), and Design Sprints (2010) are only a few of them.
However, regardless of the technique you use, there are specific steps that you can’t omit when implementing UX. Let’s go through one by one and found out what you can do to become a UX designer.
1. Research and Analysis
This is one of the most critical steps, and so, it should be one of the firsts as well. It’s the foundation for everything else, even though it’s often times discarded by companies and designs alike.
The main thing to retain is: do your homework. Remember when you went to school, and you had to learn something by heart to tell in class? Guess what? School’s back, baby!
Learn absolutely everything there is to know about your client industry, the market, difficulties, competitors, and everything that makes sense to understand. Ideally, this is the phase where you get to see the company that you’re working for (even though you will adjust in the next stage).
2. Strategy and Planning
Right now you have data to support you, and that’s great. You’re armed with knowledge, but the specifics are lacking. This is when the briefing and the stakeholder interview comes in. Ask everything to everyone involved in the project, including company goals and possible limitations. The budget is also something that you need regardless of being a sensible topic.
After the meeting, cross all the pieces of information, figure out what’s best for the client and their specific problem, and define project’ goals. For establishing priorities, you can use techniques like the viability chart, and after that, story mapping is always a good solution: it combines user interaction with the answer you just defined.
3. Organization and Design
By now you have a lot of things on your plate, and it’s time to organize it. Card sorting is one of the many strategies you can use to do so. This technique will allow you to see information hierarchically and get your ideas clear.
After organizing the information, you get to do what most designs really like; design. This is the wireframe stage and where you get to draw your solution, considering everything that you analyzed before. Quick sketches, without much refinement, are the best way to go. This ensures you can also do a rapid (even though low-fi) prototype.
After analyzing and developing a more refined prototype and something you believe it’s going to work, it’s time to implement.
There are several things you need to know and to test to make sure things go smoothly and stay that way. That brings us to the next phase.
The final stage of the process before launching. This is where you will conduct A/B testing to small things like buttons, CTAs, and even parts of the copy.
Is it vital? Yes. Users are human beings which means that even though you did all the previous work, they may do things differently from what you predicted (and most likely will).
It’s also a good idea to conduct a Heuristic evaluation by experts. That way you make sure your product (either an app or website) is designed according to usability principles.
And there you go, you are now ready to launch and make your client very happy (and preferably very rich too).
But besides knowing the stages, there are five more tips that I would like to give you, regarding working as a UX designer. These are mostly things you should avoid doing.
1. Working based out of thin air
Without any support from real data and research, you will end up with something that can be very aesthetically pleasing but that, in reality, doesn’t work.
2. Assuming that you know your users without interviewing them
Creating fake personas isn’t a good practice; they have to be based on real users and their needs. It’s not easy to question people, but it’s fundamental to ensure a good job.
3. Thinking that you are designing a product for yourself or other designers
Let’s face it, we all been there. We want the approval of our pears. But, they usually are not the user, and our priority should be them, not our ego. Awards will have to wait until other time.
4. Putting aesthetics over usability
Wasting too much time doing wireframes and losing focus on practicality is going to ruin you. Seriously. Especially on the wireframe stage; don’t spend too much time on it and go for quick sketches. That way, if you need to change something, you won’t have lost countless hours of your work.
5. Once you deliver your part, the project is over
No way, José. The project may be over, but your work is not. There’s always room for improvement even if things are looking pretty good because pretty good isn’t perfect. So keep pushing, keep iterating, and you’ll be the excellent professional you can be.
That’s it, friend. I hope this post helped you out somehow. I got to learn all of this by doing a two-day workshop at EDIT with Hugo Froes, a super UX designer, and a very patient teacher (honestly, he gave 16 hours of his weekend so we could learn to UX Fundamentals).
As usual, leave your feedback in the comments and let me know if you use other techniques besides the ones that I mentioned.