UX Design is all about understanding your users’ needs and creating products that are intuitive and accessible. In this blog, Puzzel UX Designer Marc Fenton explains the design process and what Puzzel’s UX team has been up to lately.
I first heard the term ‘UX Design’ back in 2012 when a good friend mentioned I should consider making the leap into this field from Graphic Design. I distinctly remember thinking ‘What the hell is UX Design?’, ‘What does UX even stand for?’ and then ‘Why isn’t it UE Design?’
As my friend briefly explained what the role of a User Experience Designer involved, I was left with a curiosity to learn more about this mysterious new design pathway. As I read more about the process and techniques that UX Design encompasses, it lit a fire in me which led to a passion and eventually a new career.
What is UX Design?
The purpose of UX Design is to create or improve digital products by making the needs of their users the focus and priority throughout the design process.
These digital products could be anything from the music streaming services we use, to the apps that control the light bulbs and heating in our homes.
So what does the UX Design process involve?
The UX Design Process
The UX Design process differs from team to team, but the key stages are always the same. At the core of every good design is the following:
Understanding the problem
Before we begin to look for solutions, we first need to understand the problems we are trying to solve. We need to understand our users’ goals, pain points and what exactly is stopping them from performing specific tasks.
We should ask as many questions as we can, because if we don’t get to the root of the problem, we will never truly solve it.
After we have successfully diagnosed our users’ pain points, we can move on to an equally important stage… research. This is the heart of all good UX processes. The knowledge and data we gather in this phase will inform how intuitive our product is and how well it will suit the user’s needs.
User interviews, surveys and workshops are just a few of the widely used research methods.
The prototyping stage involves the visual definition of a proposed design solution. It can include sketching with pencil and paper or interactive prototyping on applications such as Balsamiq. Testing and evaluation of design decisions are part of this stage. Design teams build mock-ups and share them with stakeholders and users to gather their input.
In the design phase, we begin to build out the actual design. We turn our prototypes into a visual design with themes and styles. We also build a design system that will act as a source of consistency for all visual elements and components.
The development team can begin to implement our designs while the design process is still in progress. The Dev team should participate in every stage of the design process so they will have a good understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.
It is standard practice that the design team is involved in the implementation phase. This is to ensure that we can help developers understand various aspects of our designs. We can also make any changes that may be required.
Once we’ve finished development of the first version of our product, we can begin the validation stage. An important part of the job comes here for the design team. We need to monitor how our users interact with our product and if they can reach the goal(s) that they want to achieve? If not, what is the problem and how can we solve it?
After this last stage, the process may restart again depending on required changes. The design process is an iterative one and continues throughout the lifespan of the product.
You may have heard terms like user-centred design, user-centric design or design thinking. These are all slightly different ways of describing the same thing.
User-centred design is an approach to solving problems that focuses on understanding people (users) and their needs.
This requires us to research and learn about the users of the digital product we’ve been tasked with creating or improving. Once we have researched our users, we can employ such techniques as creating user personas in order to keep the users the focus of our designs.
A huge part of modern design is accessibility. Accessibility enables users of all abilities to understand, use and enjoy the digital world. As designers, it is our responsibility to make sure we design in a way that is suitable for all users irrespective of their abilities.
Improving Digital Experiences
Through UX Design we can improve people’s digital experiences and make their lives a little bit easier. In Western society, we use a variety of digital products on a daily basis. We control our central heating from an app, even our washing machines. We buy all sorts of products and groceries online. We arrange medical and dental appointments online. We keep in touch with friends and family online through apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. We use our phones as contactless payment devices in shops – and that’s just naming a few.
Imagine if the user experience of all these digital products was a poor one – or to paint a different picture – if every user experience you had was a great one! This could even lead to lives being saved through more intuitive and efficient experiences for paramedics and ambulance drivers using their call systems.
If you are a person with low vision or hearing loss, imagine a world where you can use every app just as intuitively as others because you were a priority during the design process.
UX Design at Puzzel
At Puzzel, we’re continually working to make our products more intuitive and accessible for our users. Last year, we redesigned the Puzzel Administration Portal to make it easier for busy contact centre leaders to use. This included creating a new Real-time Reporting Dashboard where managers can visualise their most important metrics for all channels, including agent performance, in one place. This year, we will continue reviewing our existing products with a view to improving those experiences too.
I’m passionate about UX and what it can do to improve people’s lives and I thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit about what we do.