What makes good projects great? UX/UI designers certainly know the answer to this question. The greatest projects are those that have achieved the perfect equilibrium business objectives and user needs. This approach can be easier while you know who your users are. Thus, one of the most important stages when creating the application is the UX / UI design phase. During this step, you work on the appearance and the way the application works. But how does it actually look in practice?
How to plan the process of creating UX / UI for an application to be constructive and studied? How to get to know your users and how to make the final effect a well-designed, user-friendly and intuitive application? In this article, we’ll try to get closer to the answers to these questions.
First of all, it is worth considering why the UX stage is so crucial and why marginalizing its significance can lead to catastrophic consequences in the app development process. Primarily, a well designed application saves time devoted to the next stages.
When every element of the page is well thought out, we do not have to spend time for further corrections, which could appear at later stage, when the product goes to into users’ hands. Users are the best testers of the application, because they use its functions in all possible scenarios, often even in a manner inconsistent with their purpose – and this is also a source of valuable knowledge for designers. Users want to achieve a goal possible quickly and without reflection – this is what UX design is focused on, guiding the user through such a path that he would easily and intuitively achieve this goal.
If we ignore the importance of the interface design phase, the product will go to users who are not satisfied enough with the way how they navigate the application or worse – will not know how to navigate it – this will entail changes and subsequent hours of the development team’s work.
- Empathize and Define
Usable applications differ from the poor ones in many ways, especially when it comes to the designing stage. The time spent on designing the performing apps is much more valuable, therefore the team (or designer) knows exactly who is belonging to the target group and understands the user needs. At this stage interviews with potential recipients – research and observations are often carried out to create a “Persona” – a fictitious representation of the user, with a description of his needs, motivations, goals, and expectations with which he runs the given application. These activities help to define the problems to be faced when designing the interface and to understand their essence. After completing this stage, we get answers to three important questions:
- What is the business objective?
- What is the context of product use?
- What are user goals?
After answering the above questions, it is worth gathering and engaging a full team. Such a maneuver will give everyone a chance to get to know the product from scratch and fully understand it. Thanks to the fact that the team works together from the very beginning each participant has the chance to get to know the project and feel as an important part of this endeavor. During this phase, after presenting the essence of the application and the target group – brainstorming begins. This is the time to share all potential user expectations concerning the functionality of the application, based on the product specification. It is good to design simulations user’s flow, step by step, to achieve the set goal, e.g. registration in the application or filling out the contact form.
The prototype is created in the next level – this is the initial version of the application. Typically, this is while you experiment with design – more important than the size of the text or the color of the buttons – is to find the right solutions. Additionally, potential inconsistencies and errors are easy to notice after this stage, so it’s not a problem to make a quick fix. Wireframes are significant in this part. Their main purpose is that they give you an idea of how the thing should work. Later – when work on design begins, it helps you to overcome inaccuracies. It is also worth to involve developers who can see technical problems that may occur, suggest available solutions and verify whether the given feature can be optimally implemented.
Then it’s time to design the right look for the interface. You can start with the preparation of the specification of the elements that we have on the site. This allows you to eliminate inconsistencies in the appearance of elements with the same functionality. Such a project guide also makes it easy to use ready-made elements, repeated throughout the application, like the appearance of buttons or boxes of forms, arrows or pagination. The well-structured layout is one of the core parts of powerful UI.
This is the last stage of the UX phase and follows the implementation of the application prototype. By using various research tools – informations are is collected from real application users. This allows you to verify the solutions you have chosen. The main goal is to create a useful, intuitive and transparent interface.
When the product grows with new functionalities – the whole process should be repeated. Of course, the organization of work depends on the conditions of a given project – each must be approached individually. Many factors are important – the scale of the project, the size of the team, approach, budget.
Every new project is a challenge which consists of new problems to resolve. Each project is also an opportunity to create an application – which can be used by hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of users in the future. Challenge accepted?