User experience (UX) design has a UX process that varies a bit from designer to designer but ensures the finished website meets user expectations and needs. Before starting a design project, UX designers take a look at the why, what and how behind the use of the website. Why does the visitor come to the page? What features do they want from the website? How will they access the site, and what will the site look like?
There are more than 238,000 UX designers in America with an average salary of $77,000. Although UX design is in demand and the pay rate is higher than average, designers must stay up on the latest trends and processes if they hope to compete against up and coming graduates.
Studying the typical UX process and then finding the one that works best for you puts you ahead of the game and gives you an edge over the competition, so your finished creations excel beyond industry standards. Here are six UX process steps to follow.
1. Study the User
UX is a user-centered platform, so the UX process naturally begins with researching the people who’ll use your website or app. Dig into data from the company, look at the target audience for competitors and study any available website analytics. Think about the ways users will interact with your site, why they’d arrive on your page and what might drive them there. Create buyer personas with detailed information. Produce use cases based on how each persona reacts to different scenarios.
2. Investigate Competitors
The next step in the UX process is studying competitors and what their UX is like. Go over to their websites and use them as if you are a customer. What elements do you like, and what isn’t working for you? Take notes and list out how you can match and exceed user expectation based on what competitors offer.
During this step, invest time into figuring out what the latest UX trends are across all industries. Designers can sometimes adopt new techniques in one industry that apply to a different field and give your design a unique edge.
3. Brainstorm Ideas
The next step in the UX process is brainstorming ideas for the site with anyone on your team and the client or business owner. Lay out the ideas you have from the research you’ve conducted, then listen to input from others. Take notes as the team comes to a consensus on areas.
Now is when you sketch out your ideas and create a wireframe. Allow all those involved to add notes and thoughts to the wireframe and come to an overall consensus about design components. Numerous UX wireframing tools are available.
4. Design the Site
Once you’ve finalized the plans for layout and flow of your website, it’s time to create images and the structure of your site. Use best practices and then tweak things to meet the UX design items you worked out in UX process step three. Apply your theme to the wireframes and involve the entire planning team, business managers and technical experts.
Create guidelines for design, so any future changes flow with the rest of the site’s look. In your instructions, include details such as color palette, elements of the theme that need to carry over to any new pages added and styles for fonts and other features. Get feedback from the business stakeholder and make any changes required before you finalize the final model.
You should also work with the UI team, ensuring the back end of the website allows for the functions you want to implement for better UX. If your site will feature a progressive web app, what types of elements must the backend developers perform so everything functions correctly? Are the server worker and SSL certificate set up properly?
5. Assess Everything
Once the overall blueprint for the website is completed and approved, it’s time to test every single element on your page both for functionality and usability. Start by clicking on all links and actionable items on your page. Does everything work correctly? Next, make sure all forms and features work correctly. Fill in the forms and make sure they go to the right place and that the user receives a confirmation.
Once you’ve tested everything, take a step back and look at how easy the site is to use. A button can work but be located in a location that is difficult to find or click on. Where could you move it for better usability? Consider the site as if you’re the buyer personas you developed early in the UX process.
6. Publish and Maintain
Once you assess everything and get the go-ahead from critical stakeholders, publish the site and conduct some additional A/B testing. If you weren’t sure if the CTA button on the main page should be above or below the fold, test it in both locations and get feedback from actual customers through data. See where the button performs best. You can quickly check anything you’re uncertain about and make adjustments as needed.
Stay up on the latest trends so you can make adjustments to your site’s user-friendliness as technology changes. Part of the UX process is maintaining best practices over time and making changes as needed.
UX: A Company Vision
Creating a positive user experience isn’t only the responsibility of the designer, but the entire design team, marketing team, customer service crew and management in a company. However, user-centric design is a superb place to start.