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UX stands for “user experience” and includes everything the customer experiences while trying to accomplish a task in software or a digital product. Really, UX Design is all about how the user feels when using a product. The UX design process includes planning, research, and prototyping.

The UX Design Process

There are three main phases that the UX Designer is directly involved in and three additional phases that the UX Designer supports.

In a product lifecycle, the UX Designer’s work falls heavily on the beginning phases that involve planning, research, and prototyping. The rest of the work––the design, development, and testing––falls more on other teams, though the UX Designer’s input is still valuable and often they are still needed to make adjustments.

Planning

The planning stage is a really important first step for starting a project. During planning, UX Designers meet with key stakeholders to get a clear understanding of what the project requirements are. The stakeholders are generally either business managers, who act as an interface between UX Designers and clients, or the clients themselves, as well as Product Management.

In the planning process, UX Designers conduct interviews aimed at clearly defining user requirements. They also create user personas: representations of the product’s customers that represent their goals, needs, and use-cases.

Once the UX Designer and Product teams have a clear understanding of the end-goals, they are ready to move to the next step.

Research

Before creating any kind of design or making any usability decisions, the UX Designer must conduct thorough research to make sure they are making informed choices. This research is a combination of competitive market analysis and recent UX trends.

UX Designers research what other designers do to make sure the product stays current and get ideas that they may not have thought of themselves.

Prototyping

Once the UX Designer has thoroughly understood the user requirements and researched design principles, it’s time to start creating mockups. The point of this stage is to work through ideas around the design that don’t incorporate details yet. These prototypes are focused on flow and experience. In this stage, it is common to make incremental changes and iterations on a design, continually working to make it better.

The prototyping process usually involves sketching designs on paper, whiteboarding to mock up flows, and even generating wireframes to do a low fidelity walk-through of design flow ideas.

Design

Even though the title UX Designer has the word “design” in the name, they do not do the bulk of the visual designing. That is the job of the UI Design team. The UI Design team fills out the details of the prototyped design with theme, colors, typography, icons, and more. 

The UX Designer is still involved with this process to keep making incremental tweaks to the design of the flow. Sometimes when prototypes are more thoroughly visualized, it’s easier to identify weak points that need adjustment.

Development

Once the UI Design team has finished, the Development team takes over and implements the design. This process involves turning the functionality and look of the prototype into a real, working, product. 

Believe it or not, this process can sometimes heavily involve the UX and UI Design teams. Often, it’s much harder to implement a look or flow in code than it is in a mock-up. Sometimes technology creates limitations that are not easily visualized during design. When this happens, the UX and UI Designers need to rethink some of their work and come up with new versions.

Remember, this process is iterative.

Testing

Once the product is finished being implemented, it is rigorously tested and feedback is collected. Sometimes, two versions of the same product will be created and sent out to users. Then, it is possible to collect data on how the users interact with each version, which can then be used to try and determine which design is better. This is called A/B testing.

Once enough feedback is in, the process starts again and the whole team works to make their product even better.

Want to learn more?

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