Putting your users first.
Know your users, delight your users, turn your users into customers.
1. Start with a plan
The trick to a successful project is working out the best use of UX time. How to attain good results against the restraints of a budget. All my projects start with a open discussions and written proposals. This outlines the UX objectives, tasks, and deliverables either to a fixed cost or agreed day rate.
2. Research and Strategy
Whether a website or app this stage of the UX process should be research, which is divided into collecting business, user and technical information. This helps build a good holisitc view of the project requirements by learning from those closest to it. UX Workshops and research and strategy exercises are effcient and enjoyable way of doing this.
3. Conceptualise and design
Good design is always more than skin deep. It should start with the structural design and information architetcure, moving into low-fidelity design such as wireframes through to full user-interface design. Prototyping also plays a fundamental role in testing interactive ideas with real people during wireframing and user-interface design phases.
4. Test and implement
A test and learn culture used throughout the project lifecycle improves the performance of your product or service. User testing with prototypes should occor before commitment to development, gathering valuable user insight that supports an iterative design process. UI design toolkits and fucntional documenation should guide front-end development through to product launch.
12 things I stand for
User experience is so much more than button colours, drop-shadows and font sizes. True User Experience is about how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. It encompasses a lot of factors including usability, accessibility, aesthetics and marketing. Satisfying these factors can be rewarding, keeping the users that contribute to your bottom line happy.
Content is the core
Hiring a UI/UX designer and giving them free range on a design doesn’t work. The factors involved in good design goes far beyond the aesthetic, and starts with a website’s true value, it’s content. While the UX Designer may not be personally responsible for wiring the content, a good designer should guide, structure and format the content to contribute to the website’s overall website experience.
Collaboration is key
Debatable, but my belief is nobody creates great things alone. And that’s particularly evident in website design and UX. To produce a successful website you need a whole host of skill sets to work in parallel. SEO, content, brand, technical, marketing, and campaign teams should be involved in varying degrees throughout the project lifecycle to get a well-rounded successful result. The UX Designer should play a huge part in involving these different skill sets at the appropriate times.
Design until live
‘Waterfall’ methods for designing products discourages much needed improvements that need to be made progressively. I champion a different approach, amending the product beyond wire-framing and visual design stages into development to ensure the product reaches its full potential.
Communication over documentation
The days of heavy functional specifications are over. After all, users interact with a website, not a specification document. With tight budgets and timescales my time is better invested in tangible prototypes and creative design. Communication during a project is key. I use project management software, regular calls, and screen sharing software so the teams understand what is being done and why.
Understanding how your users use your product is very important if you want to achieve high user satisfaction. Key questions can sometimes only ever be answered by either speaking to users, or watching them use it. A successful design evolves around intelligence, and specifically the attained intelligence of those involved in the website creation.
Avoid focusing on the deliverables, focus on outcomes. Instead of investing precious time and money into unnecessary documentation, time is best invested into the product itself. A lean UX method applied correctly gets better, quicker and cheaper results.
Iterative design is based on a repeat process with 4 stages, prototyping, testing, analysing, and refining a product. It helps gain insights and intelligence progressively before committing to development. Used correctly it can drastically improve the quality of a website or app design and eliminates guesswork.
Be technically compliant
We’re living in a digital world. Each day new devices, browsers and coding techniques are launched. The UX Designer can’t work in a silo, separated from the technical aspects. They should understand the technical implications and engage with technical teams during projects.
Question what exists, and what should exist. Scrutiny should be encouraged throughout a UX project. Irrespective of experience and presumed knowhow we can all be wrong. It’s important design and marketing decisions are explained, justified and supported by evidence.
You’re only as good as the final result
Process can be great, but it’s important not to get obsessed with it. The focus should always be on the end-product as it’s directly visible to end users. The website is how people interact and engage with your brand.
It’s not finished until somebody is using it
Design is never finished. Iterations and improvements should be continuous until launch, and even afterwards. Prototyping and User Testing can help gain midway project intelligence, however a true reflection of the product is never revealed until it’s used in a natural environment by real users.
WHO’S BEHIND EPIK?
Born and living in Greater Manchester, I’ve been a UX Designer for nearly 10 years, creating EPIK in 2014.