It is becoming increasingly important for web designers to not only create something that looks good, but that works and can be understood at its core. User Experience (UX for short) is the difference between a good and bad website.
UX extends beyond just “usability”. Holistic design is a process that involves many different skills, and UX is not just one step in this. UX should be considered throughout every decision, both functional and aesthetic.
“UX is based on 200 years of scientific knowledge, 30 years of industry best practices and specifically applied research.”
THE USER EXPERIENCE PROCESS —
It is important to have an understanding of the process taken in order to achieve the best outcomes. It is not a linear process. You should question everything. Often. Here is a example of the process taken to achieve a great user experience —
Decide what your product is — whether it is a physically object or an idea. Have a clear understanding of what this is and what it means.
Determine the user’s interaction with that product — what do they need? How do they get there? Is that really the best way? How can we simplify our processes down to only the required elements? It is important to ask yourselves these questions in order to create an optimised user experience. It is important to recognise user patterns in order to determine the necessary paths you must create for them.
Consider your goals — there is NO POINT in creating a site that does not reach them for the sake of saving a few dollars.
Create a comprehensive site map outlining each element the website needs.
Create information architecture (organisation and labeling of content and functionality). A User Acceptance Testing (UAT) document will be created at this stage. This document will be important in the final stages of the project to ensure all functionality and requirement is met.
A wireframe is created including all usability, responsive, and accessibility features.
The wireframes are reviewed by both the client and user testing agents until it is at a state where it can be transferred to a high-fidelity design.
It is important for both the client and the designer to continually ask questions. Doubt may be transferred to the final outcome resulting in a poor user experience. It is important to defend your decisions as a designer, and your opinion as a client. You should be able to come to a happy medium about the best outcome for your core product – The most IMPORTANT part of a design are these stages. While it is easy to disregard wireframes as being an inconvenience, they are an incredibly important part of a site’s design. They are the bones, the insides — the design is merely its flesh.
A high fidelity concept is designed (this is the first stage where colour and graphic elements are introduced) — cut down on superfluous graphic elements, use clear typography, white space, active hover states, etc. This should not include every page of the website. A few pages will be required eg. home page, secondary page, news page to create the necessary graphic elements. These elements will then roll across all other pages in the site.
This high fidelity concept is reviewed and appropriate changes are made.
Once this concept is approved, the site build will begin.
Initially site construction will involve getting the site skeleton down, the structure right, and the usability spot on. Visual design will not be the focus of this stage. Correct navigation and content will be placed, as well as ensuring that all links are active and correct.
User testing will take place at this stage to ensure site is working efficiently with all its required features in place.
The aesthetic design process will start at this stage, including all graphic styles and features.
Content will be checked and re-checked.
User acceptance testing will take place against the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) document to ensure all required functionality and content is present.
“As user experience designers we have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the business goals, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand.”
At Ignition, we strive to create responsive websites that are easy to admire and use. We believe heavily in form following function — that a website’s content and purpose should precede its aesthetic design. We start from the beginning, ask questions, and work our way towards the best outcome for your business. If you have a project you need help with, please feel free to contact us to start the process today.
USEFUL RESOURCES —
Youtube video “What the F&*% is UX Design” explains UX design in a visually sexy way.
Read more about Ignition Creative’s responsive design process.
Read the article we reference in this rundown on Mashable.com — “4 Myths About User Experience — And How to Bust Them“.