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Why You Need a UX Designer at Every Step of the Process

The design process is not a rigid frame that always looks the same. By adapting it to the needs of specific projects, you can achieve the best results. A UX designer is the person who can help you with this. Before starting, it’s imperative to consider how to arrange all the work to achieve your goals efficiently.

To create an application that will not only meet business assumptions but also respond to the real needs of users, go through the entire design process. This is not just another unnecessary exercise.

Each stage makes you think about a different part of the product so that you can create a complex application which will be useful. Thanks to this, you also get more information on how users perceive a new product and how to construct a suitably-tailored business model, which in the future will directly transfer to the attractiveness and usability of the application.

The role of UX designer in the design process

See why a UX Designer is a must-have role on every project.

Being a designer throughout the entire product creation process is a rather specific role that lies at the intersection of users, business, marketing, and programmers.

For this reason, it is the designers’ job to ensure proper communication, openness to others, and understanding their real needs, frustration, or expectations. And here we mean not only the end-users of the application but all its stakeholders in a broad sense.

When working on the application, it is often easy to forget about stakeholders and users, about why it is good to have a person on board who will pay attention to it, and to remind the team that they also create an application for a specific purpose and defined recipients.

UX designers should be in the role of moderator for the design process in this regard. That means they should participate in every stage of product development.

The digital product market is changing every year. There are more and more experienced customers, developers or other team members who are aware of this fact and expect the participation of the designer from the moment of creating the vision until the release of the product to the market, and then working on it in subsequent lifecycles.

They know that a well-designed application is not only one that fits in with trends, looks good, or meets their expectations, but also one that is willingly used by users.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

– Steve Jobs.

The approach that I present in this article will undoubtedly be worthwhile to your project. I often come across the theory that the process itself is more important than the result. I do not agree with this statement because, in my opinion, it will only help in achieving the goals.

Gathering information

Collecting all information about users, their needs, business needs, and competitors is the first, most crucial moment. It is also time to get acquainted with statistical data on a group of current or potential customers.

However, nothing can replace the performance of tests that will help directly determine who is the user of a given web or mobile application.

It is also time to learn about clear goals and the product strategy.

At this stage, UX designer conducts workshops to understand the idea and business needs better.

I especially recommend the Product Vision Board as a tool supporting work on business expectations at the beginning. It helps not only to unify knowledge among the entire team but also to look at whether the business vision is consistent or whether some aspect requires reconsideration.

Analysis phase

After determining who is the user of the website or application, it is time to find out what their needs are, what they lack, and what is most difficult for them. You can use several tools to make this task easier – one of them is creating a persona. The whole team should be involved at this stage.

Not only the product owner and UX designer are responsible for the product, but all team members should participate in the analysis to better understand users, application goals, and the direction they are heading.

Persona is a representation of a statistical user of your site or app who has some needs, expectations, and problems related to it. It should focus on emphasizing goals or frustration, showing schemas about a specific group of users.

We create personas based on the results of the research that we conducted before. However, proto-persona is a user characteristic created based on data analysis and initial assumptions, but without confirming our hypotheses with research. In further steps, proto-personas should be verified based on qualitative or quantitative data. No matter whether you have data or not, you can create a representation of user and test it in the future.

Information Architecture

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It is time to think about how the connections between functionalities in the product will proceed. A good starting point would be the knowledge of how to run user flows so that they can easily navigate the entire application and find what they need.

The goal is to design flows for each persona so that they can meet their needs in the best way possible. This is also a great moment to reflect on the content for individual screens – which will be call-to-action, what texts should appear, and where, etc. The UX designer can design suitable views much faster when they are filled with the proper text than the famous “lorem ipsum.”

Wireframing

Creating wireframes is the cherry on the top of work regarding what users need.

With the help of simple interface drawings (without a visual layer or with its minimalistic design), the entire application is designed – how it works, where the individual elements of the interface are arranged, how they are connected with others, and what interactions occur between them.

This is a map of the application that allows you to understand its operation, see user flows, and focus primarily on the clean functionalities of the product. It is hard to do such things on the finals designs because the graphics distract attention and direct it to more aesthetic aspects of the application. That’s why UX designers usually start working on a layout with wireframes and simple prototypes.

Testing

This stage is to validate solutions with users on interactive mockups. These are simple drawings of screens connected made by the UX designer, so when clicking you get the impression that you are moving between screens. Why should you test at this stage? Because they are relatively cheap and give the opportunity to quickly verify whether the designed application will meet the needs of users. Moreover, making changes or improvements on wireframes is not expensive and relatively short.

The usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, claims that a sufficient effect can be achieved with as little as five respondents, if you solve the main problems and test the product again, thus checking where there are further difficulties in the new, changed interface design.

If you want a great site, you’ve got to test. After you’ve worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can’t see it freshly anymore. You know too much. The only way to find out if it really works is to test it.

Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Graphic design

See why a UX Designer is a must-have role on every project.

Based on previously prepared and tested mockups and user data, a visual representation of all views is created by the UI designers. In addition to aesthetic values, they also take into account the business goals of the site, the needs of users, and the overall flow between individual screens.

The visual layer should emphasize what is essential in terms of information architecture. That’s why cooperation between the UX designer and UI designer is crucial to achieving all these goals.

Validation

The next step is usability testing, which can be carried out again with the help of a UX designer. Collecting feedback before implementing a solution makes a lot of sense because any changes are still relatively cheap and faster to implement than at later stages.

It is also a confirmation that the direction the product is heading in makes sense, the look and feel of the application are pleasant, and that there is a good chance of success after implementation.

Implementation

It is time to implement the tested and previously designed interfaces. During this stage, cooperation between the UX designer and programmer should be based on excellent communication.

It is not just about transferring files among themselves, but above all, about ongoing discussions about solutions, what is possible, and what should be implemented. Only in this way can we deliver a product that meets business goals and the needs of users.

Audit after implementation

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This is an inevitable stage. Often communication between individual members of the project team leaves a lot to be desired, and there may also be a discrepancy between the project and implementation.

This is the last moment to catch these differences and correct them. The UX designer should regularly monitor the implemented parts of the system and application to check that all goals have been adequately maintained.

Don’t forget that the product, after implementation, begins to live its life – users use it and have their own experience with it. It’s essential to follow and research all these things so that you can make improvements at subsequent stages of the life of the page or application.

Summary

The design and digital product development process is no walk in the park. As you can see, the UX designer is needed at every stage. Whether you can implement this ideal form of the process depends on many factors, including the experience of the company or customer, budget, deadlines, etc.

Despite all that, don’t be discouraged! This framework is something worth pursuing in as many projects as possible. It is good to know the direction you want to take, even if the design process is not perfect at the moment and still needs a lot of changes to look like the one presented.

You can find more information about the role of UX designers and their help in this article. And if you’re looking for some help right now, you can simply contact us by clicking below.

Why You Need a UX Designer at Every Step of the Process 3

Marta Lichaj

Marta Lichaj is a UX/UI designer at Brainhub who is passionate about creating web apps. In leisure moments an amateur traveler.

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