- Design workshops and sprints
- Separating the easy from the challenging
- The best UX designers match creativity with experience
- Mapping your users' journey
- Why is the UX first approach so important?
A UX design analysis is based on creative problem solving, prototyping, and testing. Working in closed loops of iterations is the essence of agile project management and lean company concept. The trick is you should be able to perform the iterations as quickly as possible.
Design thinking approach can work as a catalyst to the iterative product development approach as it helps you gather feedback before the expensive and resource-consuming software development even begins.
Design workshops and sprints
The design thinking process is based on workshops that are sequenced into product design sprints. In Order Group, we use the principal methodology developed by Google, that consists of a five-day design sprint. During this time you gather the project's stakeholders and using exercises and activities you try to understand the value proposition, explore the potential problems, choose the best solutions, include them in new prototypes, which later can be tested - closing the cycle, and setting the grounds for the next iteration.
Of course, we take an agile approach to the already agile Google's framework, and often, we make shorter sprints. The other day I visited one of our clients, and over two days of, we managed to gather a lot of user research and web design insight.
We started with a well-thought new projects' brief prepared by our client. The summary focused on the fields they wanted to work on. We divided them into stages and decided what to do with each module.
Separating the easy from the challenging
During a design sprint, you will find out that some parts of your application or website are already development ready. At times the UX solution is simple enough to start coding it without any additional work.
However, usually testing a visual design prototype, your workshop team can identify and define a problem that needs some creative design thinking to solve. The most difficult problems need to be researched first. You do it with user experience tests. If we cannot use user-generated historical data, we have to put our imagination to work.
The best UX designers match creativity with experience
The good part of working with an experienced design team is that many UX challenges can be solved by applying some of the well-tested patterns. It's not rocket science, and your app users are used to profiles they find in the handful of dominating apps, such as Gmail, Messenger, Instagram, and native Android and iOS interfaces.
User personas are a convenient design tool. In the case of the workshop with the client I mentioned above, we developed three different segments that most likely needed different UX accents to fulfill their needs flawlessly.
We ran simulations using our prototypes and checked carefully whether the functionalities were addressing their needs, and if the suggested actions were justified from the business point of view.
Mapping your users' journey
We used the personas to create three separate user journey maps. We looked at how the persona could get to the website, what could be the context of their visit, what they were looking for, and how could they find what they were looking for using our interface.
Once again, we focused on the points on the map where the user was likely to get lost or have difficulties in finding something. Some of these problems could be solved very quickly - maybe just by underlining the critical UX element - some required UI redesign. The personas and user journey mapping are essential elements of user-centered design.
The exciting thing about design thinking is that we use quite traditional tools during the workshops. Many of the best designers make their prototypes sketching with a pencil in a handbook.
Why is the UX first approach so important?
Software solutions can have complex dependencies. Sometimes changing a single element that used to create a problem for a particular persona can destroy the interface for other groups in other parts of the system. Removing one problem at one stage of a customer's journey can create potentially many issues for other groups of users.
That's why a holistic creative approach before the development is so useful. Often the interface is overloaded with unnecessary universal modules or call to action buttons. Design thinking allows you to place each UI element in the right context - making the user's journey smooth and to the point.
The goal is to focus on one action in each view, which should fit perfectly into the context - the exact user's need and the device she or he is using. A website that is created to perform one decisive action shouldn't show the possibility of performing other 40 activities.
You also need to balance designing on the fringe usability of a device. Which is also very different, as users not only go to small screens of their smartphones but more and more often turn to alternative interfaces, such as voice.
If all this sound complex to you, I've got some good news. An experienced design thinker can recognize patterns and help you in generating ideas that will solve the most difficult problem for you.
You don't need to reinvent the wheel - which is typical mistake entrepreneurs and projected owners make. They think their product should use its proprietary interface that is not a copy of an existing one. This is a problematic approach. You should instead consider the UX design code as a language. You want to speak proper grammar that will not only be understandable to your users but also create a pleasant esthetical experience. This is what great UX design does.
So, if you have an idea for a new product or new feature of your mobile app or website, let's meet to discuss it. A workshop analysis is the best way to check out if the idea has strong business fundaments, and the prototype will show you how the core app's logic should look like. Having this information, you can make the first step to estimate the backend as well as design and frontend costs of your project.