Defining UX and the process

What is UX?

  • UX is focused on understanding how the user interacts with technology
  • UX surrounds many types of products – tv, website, app, microwave, car dashboard
  • UX is about making our interactions and transactions seamless, effective and oftentimes invisible for people who use them.
  • Bad UX leads to frustration, confusion for the user and ineffective / ugly outputs, poor brand perception, losing customers to competitors, the user could evangelise the bad experience via Twitter etc
  • UX puts the user at the centre so that the experience leads to interactions that are intuitive, helpful and delightful.

Business view
Good UX can mean customers actually use and enjoy the experience so it

  • increases loyalty;
  • brand goodwill.

The promise of good UX design

Three fundamental measurements
Useful – content, features, or functions that meet common user needs.
Usable – solution provides functionality that’s easy to use and intuitive, require little cognitive load
Desirable – engages the user (often through good visual design, content and copy), encourages the user to return

UX components

Information architecture

Navigation
Content organisation – into which modules/containers is the info place and where do the modules go
Visual priority of page elements – where things fit on the screen
Interaction design – what the interaction model is

Usually brought to life via a wireframe – architectural blueprint for the product. This typically includes technology and functional requirements, which help to define how the experience with change (or not) as the user interacts with it

Content strategy

How, why, where and when content will go into an experience
Type of information included – video, images, copy, information
Outline of the objectives and defining characteristics of the content.
It should have a purpose, be meaningful and help the user achieve a task
Written for scanability

Interaction design

Rules for how a user interacts with an experience – what happens when users navigate, choose buttons and follow links
What does the user do before, during and after the experience
How can user needs be met
Interaction design is growing as digital products become more sophisticated (touch, swipe, pinch)

Usability

Determines how well the experience performs against users’ interactions with it – is is useful, easy and intuitive.
Know your users – how they think, act, look and behave – these can change. Better you know your users the more likely the experience you build will resonate – translates into success for your business.

Visual Design

Helps ensure the solution
is aesthetically pleasing
follows brand consistency
helps a user digest all the content

A beautiful website that’s unusable could compromise a business’s goals.

UX is a big deal
Customer satisfaction and loyalty – users will return and recommend given a better experience
Revenue – clarity and consistency means more transactions – e.g. the checkout process
Traffic – better experience means more traffic means higher SEO rankings means more customers
Brand – user experience is an active expression of the brand

How UX and usability  work together

UX is a broader design practice (process) that ensures the usability of a solution – focused on the broader objectives e.g. usefulness or engagement
Usability is an output of UX – it tests the performance of a solution

Basics of usability – clarity, consistency, ease of use

  • Research and testing to ensure a solution works and is easy to use and intuitive.
  • Can the user accomplish the goals – how easy is it?
  • Navigation – where does a user click to accomplish tasks, is the website structured to make sense to the user?
  • Content – is it clear, it is at the right level at the right time?
  • Dead ends – any navigational pathways that don’t lead to the completion of a task – dead links, nonworking buttons, being taken somewhere the user did not expect
  • Cognitive overload – is the user being asked to digest too much information or complete too many functions, or fields, is the user flow too complicated?

Comparing UX to usability

  • UX is a broader set of focus beyond just usability
  • Usability looks to answer ‘How easy way the solution?’
  • UX looks to answer ‘How useful was the solution and how enjoyable was it?’
  • Ensures the solution contains content that is MOST useful, not just a set of features that are easy to use.
  • Was it delightful – engaging, visual appeal, tone of content, how the system responds to the user’s interactions

UX inputs

Strategic inputs

Business objectives

Define objectives. What do you want to do – sell products, engage and entertain users, provide customer info to reduce phone calls. Be clear.
Measure success – define key success metrics (KPIs) at the start. They ensure the final experience aligns with your original goals.
Any operational business objectives – how will the experience be maintained, who will update it, how will it be modified or enhanced over time?

Competitive landscape

Who else does what you want to do, what can you learn, what do you like, what’s missing, what’s the user interaction like, what about features?

Technology architecture

Which tech is necessary to create, produce, publish and maintain the experience?
Where will you experience sit (hardware required – e.g. iPhone)
Ensure design choices are supported by the tech – which web browsers will be supported, which operating systems, content management system, product catalogue maintenance, payment processing, require user registration and authentication?

Design inputs

Profiles or personas
Help frame which user behaviours are necessary to consider in your ultimate experience
Who is your target user?
Biggest challenge is to prioritise all the info you know about users.
Which type of user is your priority? (e.g. baby website expectant mother rather than aunty)
Brings the target to life and highlights mission critical info about them

Scenarios and user journeys
Provide different paths the user could take to achieve task completion within the experience
To help bring a solution to life a persona is paired with a scenario or a user journey.
Scenario tells a simple story of a process the target user goes through and how the solution is is used along the way.
User journey tells a higher level story, broader reach (e.g. scenario may show how a mother researches a crib for the nursery, while a user journey shows the overall process of getting the nursery ready).

Brand guidelines
Any brand requirements – these could impact the user experience, cooler palettes, logo, fonts
Any existing collateral (for smaller projects – brochures etc)

Experience models (EM)
Artifact critical for larger UX projects
Aims to document the whole life cycle of the experience
Critical for overall understanding of users and how all the products, services, marketing and comms fit into how users experience your world
Example: EM could help define the overarching process mothers go through having children (highest level model of all artefacts going more broadly than scenarios and user journeys)

Content inputs

What types of info is made available to your users

Content models and content matrix
Helps to organise the content that is in the experience and prioritise it effectively
Establishes rules around content (e.g. carousel on homepage 5 images per week)
Enable personalisation (e.g. people in Nebraska served up X content
Successful model means users get right content at right time.

Taxonomy
It’s figuring out how to organise and label information so that users can find what they need, where they need to find it and when they need it
Examples: library (author, title, subject), shop (Meat – Beef – Steaks – Sirloin)
Enables search functionality

Considerations before beginning UX

Understanding your target users
What do you know about them, can you picture and describe them?
Is there more than on type and how do they differ?
How do they behave and what are their needs are wants?
May need to fill gaps with user research.

Deciding on a new project or redesign
If a redesign then what data is there to help inform your redesign – website analytics

Identifying the technology
How complex is the project, if content heavy who will update and maintain it? Which CMS needed?
If you know your user then you can identify the tech required e.g. iPhone
Ensure resources are in place to support project

Maintaining the experience
Thinking about the longer term – how will it be maintained, how will updates occur (new features).

Ensuring consistency
Which guideline exist that may impact look and feel (e.g. brand guidelines)

Determining your level of comfort
UX is multidisciplinary -business strategy, creative design, market insight, technology, project management – a good UX designer combines these
Identify where you are strong and weak.

How a typical project works

Discover – Define – Design – Build – Test & Launch – Maintain

Define & Discover

Helps define the core building blocks of the solution so that the creative process that follows is grounded with insights and clear goals.

Deliverables

Discovery
Define the business goals with KPIs
Benchmark current experiences – assessment of current website (or solution), what works and what doesn’t, competitive landscape, what insights can be taken from assessment
Develop user personas – clear understanding of users, either from existing data, or user research.
Audit content – e.g. existing website content, what content will we be working with
Brand audit – assessment of visual guileless for look, feel and tone

Define
Initial sitemap creation
Content strategy framework
User flows
Technology assessment – review of tech involve in final solution including underlying tech, browser benchmarking (defines all version of web browsers that should be supported and key platforms (web mobile, tablet)

Design

Wireframes and sitemaps for high-level blueprint
Mood boards
Visual design comps
High level design of key pages (home page, and primary and secondary pages)
Content matrix an guidelines
Detailed functional speecs

Build Phase

Build out of all pages
Development of any additional templates/modules
Fill content – written and visual

Test and launch

Bugs, technical glitches and any remaining usability problems
Testing process

Maintain Phase

Ongoing effort to maintain the experience
Are the content and features still relevant
Has technology evolved and so are enhancements required

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