“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – An aspiring entrepreneur once believed, and today it’s history. Late Steve Jobs beautifully summarized a product’s appeal to the user is not purely aesthetic but the functionality and usability of the product plays an equal importance in designing a memorable experience for the user.
And how do you create this experience is by practicing a user centric design (UCD) approach to design your product and service. A UCD approach follows user experience and usability principles and best practices, studying the user behavior and pattern. International brands like Apple, Uber, Amazon invest heavily on studying the user patterns, behavior and tailoring it to the regional needs and experience.
Now if you go online and type UX or UCD processes you will get tons of variation on the process. I have listed the bare minimum UX process you can follow to get a minimum viable product out with the desired results.
This is the beginning of your journey – The stage where maybe you only have a rough concept or idea in your head. But to make sure the idea is not based on only your assumptions you need to get your real users involved to get insights on their current patterns (ideally 6-8 people per user group will give you enough data). With these insights you might get a list of wish-list from the users, so make sure you have your business requirements and KPIs front of it, otherwise you might tend to deviate a start creating a mix of everything. Next, do a quick analysis on your competitor’s products/services to check how they addressed the user’s problem. This analysis will help give you a direction to get a competitive edge and also help you prepare a unique value proposition to the users.
This is where you form a solid strategy bridging the user’s need and the business goals, keeping in mind the technology constraints. Based on all the research insights you get, you begin setting your foundation with a clear goal that will help you build your prototype. You can build this by creating persona’s (fictional character of your users – although fictional this will closely represent your target audience, their behavior (platform used, technical knowledge, etc.), needs, goals and frustrations) and formulating a customer journey that will help you identify solution based on the frustration points of the user’s current journey that can help ease their process.
Now go ahead and start drafting sketches of how your product will flow, the hierarchy and priority of content, the material or kind of content you will be needing. If it’s a digital interface draft the different screens (build a wireframe – blueprint of your interface). With the prototype the you will get the clear picture of how the features intent to flow. Prototyping will help you discover any error or design changes that you need to accommodate before you go in full steam to develop your final product or service, which of course will save your time and money. The aim is to build the right product before the perfect one. The prototype will also help the initial flows / product concept with the users.
With the prototype created, you have you first ideation in hand, time to test it! Testing is very crucial in a UX process. When you say you created a user centric design, then how can you proceed without getting your users to test it. Get your prototype tested by real user to validate if the flow is as per user’s mental modal. You can gauge if your product is intuitive and it ticks the user’s expectation to use the product. Around 5 users gives around 85% of usability issues (NN group), so you’re good if you have around 8 users, you will have enough data to validate if you’re product is doing good. If not, go back to the drawing board, go back to the define or prototype stage, depending on the insights you get from the user. Remember always keep validating your concepts with your users!
Even after launch your job is not done. You need to constantly be aware of the changing trend, to check if your product needs a tweak or a re-design to fit the changing patterns. Keep testing, keep having user interviews to understand if the user needs have changed or the behavior has deviated. Keep abreast with the change in technology and best practices that directly impacts your product.