What Is UX Centered Design: Thoughts From LocalHop on Principles and Processes
What is user experience (UX) design? UX centered design is about making the user’s interactions with the product the best it can possibly be resulting in a positive experience. UX design focuses on understanding the overall goal for designing a product, service, or app within the constraints of business and technology.
The LocalHop team begins by defining and laying out all use cases the for a potential user to provide the best possible experience. UX design focuses on understanding the overall goal for designing a product, service, or app within the constraints of business and technology. Our UX design process allows for any project to increase its usability, efficiency, and value all while overcoming business objectives.
Design Thinking Approach
A UX centered design process typically follows a similar path within the design thinking approach. Design Thinking overall is a methodology focused within user-centered design that offers a hands-on approach for analyzing complex problems to come up with innovative solutions. Rather than jumping to immediate solutions, our designers challenge assumptions and ask questions to uncover the actual problem(s) that exists. There are numerous amounts of regular collaborations between the users and stakeholders to ensure that the solution targets the project goals.
UNDERSTAND I RESEARCH I IDEATE I DESIGN I TEST I IMPLEMENT
Understand I Task at Hand
When working on any client project or even a software enhancement, we start with gathering the details necessary for briefing a particular issue, pain point, and well as defining general information regarding the task at hand. Before anything is handled, there needs to be a clear understanding of the context that is being presented and how a strategized solution can be delivered. This allows for a better representation of the user’s brand, ideal target audience, data being collected, and essential needs towards gathering the structure of each user objective.
The next step moves us onto researching the problem or enhancement involved, looking for patterns and insights that pose various obstacles which can be solved. Ideally this phase includes both user research and competitive market research for developing a good comparison. This requires time to review each component from all perspectives to ensure we’re solving the issue or feature for the best user experience.
Additionally, during the research phase we will implement UX tactics that bring more awareness to the problem(s) we want to solve. This includes having a target audience participate in various focus group sessions, user surveys, and occasional usability testing towards sample concepts.
Overall, the time invested in the research phase is important to help guide us in making smart design decisions and is key to creating and informed user experience.
Key research phase terms:
Competitive Research – Involves identifying your competitors, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their products and services.
Focus Group Sessions – A small-group discussion guided by a UX product designer or team lead.
User Surveys – A survey which helps collect user input and provides quantitative data on what users do and have in mind during a set of steps. Data responses are limited regarding why users take certain actions or how they develop opinions making it difficult to just rely on surveys responses alone.
Usability Testing – Refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.
The ideation process starts once we have successfully gathered as much understanding of our users use cases and defined the problem based on our analytical research. Before moving forward with rough designs or decisions, the team collaborates to explore and discuss all of the possible solutions. In our (LocalHop) process we schedule several brainstorming session, action path use cases, problematic reviews, and draw insights from any additional data that had been collected.
When design begins, our team has already established a more concise understanding of the user expectations, wants, and needs for a given product. In short, ideas become more actionable drafts once the information is provided to the product designer and user interface (UI) team. The design phase itself is then consolidated into a secondary process that includes a range of user interface methods which involve sketching, creating wireframes, prototyping concepts, and creation of design specifications.
These practical methods help achieve a successful collaboration between all team members involved in the project. This allows stakeholders, project managers, designers, developers, as well as clients to visualize and critique the product or enhancement being developed.
During the testing phase, all of the design procedures and specifications are put together as both a high-fidelity as well as a conceptual prototype, for our team this is in the form of a clickable wireframe that includes transitions and motion effects to replicate the product concept. This allows the internal team to collaborate further on any additional items needed and depending on the type of project, the UX team will host a user testing session to collect end-user feedback. Once the feedback is incorporated, the UX team packages all specifications into assets that are handed off to the development team and all approved items continue to the first phase of development into a functional product.
When it comes to UI there is a shared belief that no design is ever finished, this sentiment certainly rings true during the implementation phase. Each idea, concept, and design goes through semi-weekly sprints for further development. This process is to ensure all concepts are staying on target to create the best user experience. The UX team will review further solutions to the how’s and why’s to help progress design decisions as well as overall functionality.
This process of implementation is what differentiates a good user experience from bad or misdiagnosed opportunities. Once all design decisions and ideas have gone through a few sprint cycles and been analyzed with the development team, we prepare for product finalization and a full demonstration walk-through with the client. If there are no further items needed then the project is prepared for a product launch to complete the overall cycle.
UX Centered Design Sample Processes
Understand > Research > Define > Ideate > Design > Prototype > Test > Iterate
Understand > Research > Ideate > Define > Design > Test > Implement
Understand > Research > Ideate > Design > Test > Implement
Product Design UX Process – Full Cycle
Product Definition > Understandings > Empathize > Research > Define > Ideate > Design > Prototype > Analyze > Test > Launch > Implement (Repeat)