In depth User Experience Design forms the core of all ergonomically designed products. Products which answer problems in a concise, intuitive manner; whilst providing a attractive and appropriate human / product interface. As any experienced UX and UI designer knows the best way to provide a seamless synergy between business goals and customer user experience is to develop ideas and products based upon a detailed understanding of user needs. The application of a formal UX design process is the only way to ensure user interface design is created to the highest quality with the least wastage – “less is more”.
Here is a basic list of a common UX process it’s not an exhaustive list but it explains a quick overview for each process to establish a clean user first approach. Obviously with time and budget constraints, this sometimes means some of these area are not focused on as much as they should be. But to ensure a final user interface is created of the highest quality, all of these steps should be considered and accessed to yield the best user experience result.
1. Establish Key Stakeholders:
The UX designer needs to understand the Business Goals for any project in detail. Key Stakeholders provide this insight, analysis by interview provides the core needs for any proposed project and leads to the development of User Groups. . .
2. User Groups:
With the Business Goals for a project established, the next stage for the UX designer is to understand who will actually be using the product. Thus working with the key stakeholder User Groups are developed. These groups may range from a single Focus Group to a range of groups defined by common experience, age, gender etc.
User Groups are interviewed and presented with the initial concept under development, these interviews (either on an individual of group basis) allow for the establishment of Personas. . .
Personas prove the insight gathered from initial User Group interviews; a Persona typically is a user type as defined by age, gender, background, locality, level of experience with the product type in question etc.
Once the Personas have been established they are checked against the Key Stakeholders and User Groups understanding / experience and are adjusted accordingly.
Completed Personas allow the UX designer to begin considering Use Cases and Use Paths. . .
4. Use Cases and User Paths:
Use Cases identify a hierarchy of user needs based upon the Business Goals and the Personas.
Use Cases are applied to a structured high level design allowing the UX designer to establish simple, efficient and logical User Paths whilst interacting with the proposed product.
At this stage Use Cases and User Paths are qualified by the Key Stakeholders in preparation for Information Architecture design. . .
5. Information Architecture Design:
IA design: a structured method of presenting textual and graphical content in a manner which is both applicable to well formed SEO practice (in the case of online products – “Search Engine Friendly”) and is organised according the user needs. This is best thought of as a logical grouping and where appropriate cross referencing content to suit the proposed audience’s level of expertise and the Business Goals as established previously.
Key stakeholders and User Group representatives are allowed the opportunity to provide input before the completion of a IA model prior to the next stage – Wireframe Design. . .
6. Wireframe Design:
Wireframes (in software development) are best thought of as the “blue prints” from which the final product interface will be built.
Wireframes may be built as interactive (simplified web pages) or as paper designs. It is recommended that a tiered approach to wireframe design be established subject to the size of the project in hand, with a suitable feedback programme – User Testing.
Completed wireframes provide a culmination of all of the insight gained in the previous stages and lead the UX designer to engage with the UI design team and Development team.
7. Interface Design:
Typically (on medium to large projects) a UI team is engaged at this stage, applying the wireframe designs with appropriate emphasis to the visual design according to the Business Goals, Brand Guidelines, Use Cases, User Paths and user expectations.
Interface designs as with Wireframe Designs are subject to project scale, have user testing applied with adjustments made according to findings.
Once complete actual production begins – the result a beautifully simple yet proven product and an engaging user experience.
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