Tutorial 2: An Introduction To The UX Design Process
“Hello again! 😎 In this tutorial, I’ll be handing over to Claire, a fellow UX designer. Claire used to work as a nurse in London. She took the full CareerFoundry UX Design Course and became a professional UX designer. We were so impressed by her skills that we brought her on board at CareerFoundry. After a couple of years she transitioned into a freelance role, working with companies from all over the world. Now the apprentice has become the master, and she’s returned to teach you all about the wonderful world of UX, from user research and personas to wireframes and prototyping. So, without further ado, take it away Claire!”
What are we going to do today?
Thanks Jeff. So in this tutorial, I want to add some “user experience” to what Jeff talked about in your first tutorial: you’ve seen what it’s like to have a critical eye for UX design, but let’s learn more about what a UX designer actually does on a daily basis: how is UX design realized in practice?
As you progress throughout the tutorial, think about the parallels between your current job and the UX design process – there are bound to be some! As Jeff mentioned, I used to work as a nurse. For me, UX and nursing share many features –to do the job well, both require empathy and a highly user-centric approach.
A Typical UX Design Process
“What does a UX designer actually do?” This question comes up time and time again from those curious about UX design. As a UX designer, what I do can differ dramatically from project to project. Despite this, there is a typical procedure and some general functions that I am expected to perform in almost every project. These include carrying out user research, building user personas, creating wireframes and prototypes, user testing, and assisting with visual design and development. Let’s take a closer look.
How does user research feature in the UX design process?
Every design process begins with research. But where does research begin in the world of UX design? You guessed it! It all starts with the user!
Usually, I will receive a brief from the Head of Product asking me to conduct initial research for a new product feature. I then start with competitor research to see what’s out there before moving on to interviews with actual prospective users. I also survey and interview any existing users, as well as product stakeholders, to identify their needs, pain points, and opportunities for improvement.
Research is essential in enabling Ally to pinpoint the core features her users need before jumping straight into the design.
How do user personas fit into the UX design process?
Crafting a user persona is one of my favorite tasks. A user persona is a fictional but realistic representation of a set of target users based on their goals, needs, and behaviors (all discovered during the research phase!).
A user persona is a valuable tool in the UX design process because it reminds designers and other stakeholders that they’re designing for real people. Rather than designing for user group A and user group B, I will design for “Jane” – a mother of two living in London, and “Steve” – a recent retiree currently relocating to Rome. By humanizing the target user groups, personas help the designer build empathy with the user and prioritize key features and design decisions based on real user data.
Once the personas have been fleshed out, it’s then possible to look at specific tasks each persona will want to perform (e.g. making an appointment using a calendar app). From there, I’ll create a user flow depicting the path a user like Jane needs to undertake in order to achieve that goal.
How are wireframes and prototypes used in the UX design process?
Once the steps have been laid out, I can begin to define how the content on each page should be organized, as well as how these pages can fit together in a way that’s intuitive to users and allows them to reach their goals. I do this using wireframes and prototypes, both of which involve making sketches of my designs for colleagues and stakeholders. The level of detail in the prototypes evolves based on feedback and testing, all the way from quick pencil sketches to finely detailed mockups that closely resemble the final design.
What role does user testing play in the UX design process?
Testing is a fundamental part of the UX designer’s job and a core part of the overall UX design process. I test my prototypes with real users as a way of receiving authentic feedback on how to improve the design from those who’ll actually be using the product. Doing so with prototypes helps me catch any design flaws before the development starts — which saves time and money for the company.
The most common type of testing for UX designers is usability testing, which is a technique used to evaluate how intuitive and useful a particular design is. When testing is complete, I’ll use the results to improve the design, adjust the prototypes, and test again in a process called iteration.
From UX designer to UI designer to developer: Visual design and development
After several iterations of prototyping and testing, my design is ready for a visual makeover. This is where the look and feel of the design come into play. These aspects are usually done in collaboration with a UI (user interface) designer, who ensures that what the user is presented with on the screen enables them to complete their tasks. Just like the UX designer, the UI designer has a solid understanding of the user’s needs and goals, but their speciality lies in the user’s visual experience.
Regardless of the scope of a project, I always work closely with developers to reach the end goal, so I’m very cognizant of the good relationship I need to maintain with the development team. While rapport can take time to establish, I’m always diligent about documenting the entire UX design process and the product’s visual design assets to ensure everything can be developed exactly as designed.
Are you ready to start thinking like a UX designer?
In this tutorial we took a look at the UX design process and explored the key job functions of a UX designer. For today’s task, we want to turn the focus back to you.
Do any of the functions or tasks that we tackled closely resemble anything you do in your current job? If so, write down what they are and how they’re similar to the UX design process, and let us know.
Not sure where to start? For a marketer, an example could be the data collection to evaluate the success of a recent holiday campaign. If you’re a teacher, you’re probably constantly reviewing the needs of your students and adapting the class to these needs. UX really does permeate many areas of our personal and professional lives, so there are bound to be parallels.
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