UX Design Methodology is an approach or technique to analyze every aspect of a client’s specific business objectives. This methodology has become essential for creating successful websites. In basic terms, UX design is the process used to determine what a user’s experience will be like when interacting with a product. In this case, UX is applied to designing and building websites. A UX web designer carefully analyzes the client’s business objectives as well as the online business sector within which the client is competing.
Website design projects will differ dramatically from company to company, as will creative priorities. Using UX involves elements of research, testing, business analysis, project management and even psychology.
UX web designers are in increasing demand. Companies are just starting to realize the value the UX methodology brings to both the business and their newly designed website.
What does a UX designer actually do? There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the field, which is why UX designers will often find their first task on a new project is to clearly explaining the value this process has on website design overall. The underlying sections will explain exactly what UX Designers bring to the table.
The Foundations of UX Design
Before we dive right into what UX designers actually do, let’s first take a look at how UX design came about.
UX is not new; in fact, the term has been around since the early nineties. The term has been credited to Donald Norman who joined Apple as a cognitive scientist. His desire was to explore all aspects of a user’s experience; including industrial design, graphics, the interface, and physical manual interaction.
The Initial Stages of UX Design
This is where the research (magic) happens. Let’s use the fictitious fast food chain Foodies as an example: Imagine Foodies approaches your company wanting a new app.
Firstly, it’ the UX designer’s role to combine desk-based and field research to get a full picture of who they are designing for. This might include reviewing what the current website has to offer, interviewing existing users to look for opportunities and pain points, and doing competitor research to see what else is out there.
Personas and Information Architecture
With the core features decided on, it is time to delve deeper into what tasks each persona wants to perform and why. Once this process has been completed for each persona, it is then possible to refine the content needed, working out the information architecture and site map and beginning paper prototypes. Paper prototypes are very rough sketches which can be shown to colleagues and quickly and easily improved.
Wireframes and User Testing
After paper prototypes are completed, UX designer prepares wireframes, initiates user testing, and iterates accordingly. Wireframes typically go through many stages, and there is no right or wrong way of doing them.
They often start as very basic black and white designs, moving on to interactive designs where users can navigate between the different pages like they will with the final product, to high-resolution designs which give the user a really clear idea of what the final product could look like. Each stage is punctuated with user testing and iterations.
Next comes the visual design where wireframes are converted into mock-ups. Mock-ups include the final imagery, color, and typography. The main focus is the look and feel; they should be pixel perfect and show exactly what the design will look like when brought to life so they can be used as a guide when development starts.
Some UX designers do the visual design themselves using programs such as Photoshop. However, visual design tends to fall under UI design, so this will normally be done by a UI designer.
Usability Testing and Beyond
With the visual design in place, there is a working prototype of the product which can be fully usability tested by participants who match the identified personas.
Several rounds of testing could take place before the design is completely right. Once it is, the new product is finally ready to go into development. UX designers also attend sprint meetings, overseeing product development to make sure there aren’t any feature creeps (which often happens in my experience!) and helping to make small refinements to the design as and when necessary.
One final point to make is that a UX designer’s work is rarely finished after the product launch. There will be refinements, small changes, new releases, feedback to gather and analytics to discuss with the team, just as Ryan describes in the video below. Technology is constantly evolving and it is essential to keep up-to-date with the latest developments or get left behind.