While many of us are familiar with the term 'user interface' (UI), an example being navigating a website, your mobile device or even a washing machine, 'user experience design' (UX) is focused on the user and the problem they are trying to solve, and their emotive responses to systems you create for them to hopefully solve those problems.
The first step in the UX process is to conduct a series of open workshops with stakeholders to understand to the problems they are trying to solve with existing or proposed solutions. More often than not, stakeholders have different priorities from each other and open workshops help overcome functional silos, creating an interdependent team approach.
Reliable UX depends on solid research methodology. Often, creators, engineers and decision makers work on a 'hunch' or a strong bias to a set of ideas of what they 'think' the market will respond positively too. Gathering reliable data from your target audience using qualitative and quantitative methods can help you understand the problem they are trying to solve. We use tools like 'Usability Testing', 'Competitive Benchmarking' and 'Card Sorting' to achieve this.
With reliable data, we can then start to piece together a consolidated view through a customer journey or affinity diagram which illustrates the wins and pain points a user faces through the existing or proposed steps of the solution. This also allows us to to create a sketch of how interactions or steps will work (the rules, actions and outcomes) and the broad look and feel of the how these steps will be presented to the user to achieve their desired outcome.
WireFRAMinG & PROTOTYPinG
With a customer journey andwireframe is an annotated specification, specifying controls, rules and feedback used to clearly communicate to our creators, engineers and decision makers what exactly we want to build based on our consolidated research. A prototype allows us to conduct some usability testing and is a great visual tool to achieve 'buy in' from both stakeholders and developers without incurring significant costs at the design stage.