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Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

By branding, interaction design, user experience, user interface, UX No Comments

New challenges in the healthcare industry accelerate the development of healthcare innovation. Striving to improve patient care, hospitals and clinics seek ways to digitize medical services and internal administrative processes. But while a lot of attention is focused on functionality, the role of a user experience design in healthcare software often remains undervalued.

In this article, we’ll outline key trends in medical technologies. We’ll also explain how quality UX design can help healthcare providers deliver better patient experience.

Telemedicine

With the help of telemedicine, physicians can consult, diagnose and treat patients remotely using telecommunication technology. A typical telemedicine appointment looks like a traditional visit to a doctor’s office. The only difference is that the patient and doctor communicate online. Video conferencing solutions and remote health monitoring apps are the most popular tools that medical organizations use for delivering clinical services from a distance. But the concept is constantly evolving so there is a lot of room for new ideas.

telemedicine
Image source: dribbble
Image credit: Alexander Plyuto

Potential telemedicine solution users aren’t a homogeneous group. In other words, UX design of this software must be created with different categories of patients in mind. In particular, to build an inclusive telemedicine application, UX designers should take into account such characteristics as users’ age, mental states, and tech skills.

Ideally, a telemedicine appointment should resemble a face-to-face visit as closely as possible. So when working with this healthcare technology, designers have to recapture the feeling of real-life experience for patients and doctors. This is obviously vital with this current COVID-19 pandemic.

Health wearables

Smartwatches and fitness trackers became mainstream soon after they appeared on the market. And their popularity continues to soar. For example, one study shows that the number of wearable devices is forecast to hit 1.1 billion by 2022. But the growth isn’t just in quantity. Technological developments allow app creators to expand and enhance the functionality of wearables, turning them into useful healthcare technology tools.

health wearables
Image source: melmagazine.com

Most regular smartwatches and fitness trackers can monitor basic metrics like the person’s heart rate, steps, and sleep patterns. Medical devices are much more advanced and can also detect different deviations in users’ health conditions. For instance, they can identify atrial fibrillation by tracking the person’s heart rhythms.

To build a successful UX design for a health wearable, designers should properly prioritize information. A device must be simple and intuitive so users don’t feel confused when they need to quickly find necessary data or functions.

Healthcare chatbots

In healthcare, the chatbot technology is still in the early stage of implementation. Yet, it has the potential to become the industry standard in the next few years. Today, hospitals and clinics use chatbots mostly for experience optimization. For example, there are chatbots that help patients book appointments, connect patients with doctors, or collect feedback after a consultation.

But it’s expected that digital assistants will eventually become the first line of primary care. In particular, they’ll be able to analyze health information provided by a user and offer responses with personalized instructions.

If powered by artificial intelligence, healthcare chatbots can help medical organizations deliver patient-centric services while reducing workload for doctors. It’s important to remember that people who seek medical advice need to feel cared for even if they talk to a machine. So the main task of UX designers is to make an interaction with a bot very similar to chatting with a real person.

Medical virtual reality

Virtual reality opens doors to a variety of new opportunities for the healthcare industry. First of all, this technology improves training methods for doctors. It also allows them to master professional skills without risking the health and life of real patients. Research shows that surgeons who used the VR platform for simulating operations enhanced their performance by 230 percent compared with doctors who used traditional training techniques.

medical vr
Image source: healthiar.com

Another use case of virtual reality in healthcare is the reduction of pain and discomfort during unpleasant treatment procedures. For instance, VR healthcare technology comes in handy when a patient needs to sit for hours to undergo lengthy chemotherapy. VR can also help people with amputated limbs get accustomed to prosthetics.

Building a UX design for a VR-based healthcare solution is an extremely encompassing task. Designers working on such projects need to clearly outline the needs of a target audience and make accuracy their top priority.

Electronic health records

EHR solutions aren’t a new thing for medical organizations. Hospitals and clinics have been using this type of software for a long time. The purpose of EHR is to digitize medical charts and records while reducing the amount of paperwork needed. While this healthcare technology is widely adopted, its usability, in general, remains at a questionable level. As a result, nurses and physicians cannot fully rely on the system, as it may lead to errors and patient safety risks.

EHR system
Image source: sapristic-biion.com

Before creating a UX design for EHR software, designers need to study how medical staff will interact with a system. What is a user’s typical sequence of actions? Which fields are mandatory and which of them can be left blank? Is there something a user can forget to do after inserting information in a chart? Conducting extensive UX research will be very helpful during the early stages of development. But designers must also perform user testing and quality assurance at a later phase to ensure that a solution is user-friendly and effective.

UX and healthcare technology in a snapshot

Medical technologies aim to improve the efficiency of healthcare, enhance the patient experience, and make the doctors’ hard work a little bit easier. The UX design plays an important role in whether a particular health app meets these goals or not.

When deciding to develop a medical solution, healthcare providers must pay attention not only to its functionality but also to the user experience. At the same time, designers engaged in such projects must understand the specifics of the medical sector and be ready to deal with great responsibility that comes with tasks.

Looking for the right team of UX designers for your healthcare development project? Drop us a line!

The State of UX for 2020

The State of UX for 2020

By customer experience, design, digital transformation, interaction design, user experience, user interface No Comments

We expect 2020 to be a momentous year in the space of UX design. New technology and user experience trends during the last decade have made competition across most modern industries tougher than ever before. Naturally, this motivates businesses to put even a greater focus on the user experience.

Today, the challenge in sensing customers’ needs and wants is no longer enough to stand out and be successful. Companies that want to win a higher market share must also be a step ahead of the herd and anticipate future UX trends.

To give you a leg up, we’ve collected the latest trends of the digital world which, we believe, will shape user experience in 2020. Give them a look and make strategic decisions before your rivals do.

Even more personalized experience

Personalization has been an essential part of experience optimization for a while already. However, as technologies continue to evolve businesses become better able to precisely tailor their offers to different users.

Besides using cookies that store only basic information about a user, website and app owners may now take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies (e.g. advanced data analytics, machine and deep learning). They open doors to a whole bunch of new UX-related opportunities and experiences.

A great example is Netflix. This well-known video-streaming service applies machine learning algorithms to provide every user with relevant content by personalizing recommendations, push notifications, and search results.

netflix screenshot

Starbucks goes even further. It combines AI with geolocation technology to deliver a truly futuristic experience. In particular, users of its famous location-aware app receive highly personalized promo messages at the time when they are in a specific place, i.e. near the Starbucks shop.

startbucks screenshot
Image source: Build Fire

In 2020 there won’t even be a question whether to make your app user-centric or not. The key differentiator will be the extent to which you’re ready to personalize your product.

Voice user interfaces are getting to their peak

In today’s fast-paced world time is money, and its value is high. Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) and virtual assistants help users navigate through an app faster while the handsfree capabilities allow users to multitask. No wonder voice user interface interaction has been on the top of UX trends for the last several years. The question is; what will happen with Voice User Interfaces (VUI) in 2020?

Well, VUI will continue to strengthen its position as the second most popular type of app navigation after graphical user interface (GUI). Is there a chance it’ll leapfrog GUI on the list?

We don’t see that happening next year. But voice-assisted UI will definitely continue getting closer to the first position in the ranking. There is even a quite promising prediction made by ComScore in 2016 that nearly half of searches will be voice searches in 2020.

Voice search by 2020
Image source: Milestone Insights Voice Search Report

We still expect a significant shift in the quality of VUIs. As natural language processing (NLP) technology is evolving, voice interactions and voice assistants become more effective in finding accurate answers. Besides, our interaction with them will also become more natural. It’ll resemble more human-to-human communication rather than a conversation with a robot.

Alexa chatting
Image source: SnapTravel

On top of that, the array of tasks we can perform with a voice command will probably increase in 2020. For instance, Google Duplex, a new project by Google, has already enabled setting up appointments over the phone without any interaction with a person on the other end from a user’s side.

Google Duplex
Image source: Google

Introduction of a Chief Experience Officer position

Creating a user experience that is both holistic and consistent is crucial for enhancing the usability of a product and making a brand memorable. Traditionally, UX professionals or a designer together with a marketing team has been responsible for ensuring this part of the development. But the situation is quite different now.

The list of platforms today’s organizations use to maintain their digital presence is not limited to a website and mobile app. Wearables and smart devices are growing in popularity, the number of social media channels is increasing and becoming more complex. In general, markets are becoming ever more dynamic. Ensuring a positive customer experience is now a much more complex activity than it used to be. This is why a new C-level executive position is necessary.

As of the end of 2019, not many businesses introduced the position of CXO. Introducing this position to your business will give you a significant competitive advantage for your company in the coming year. In particular, a chief experience officer will help you perform a comprehensive visual audit and build a holistic UX design system.

The rise of VR & AR in fashion and e-commerce

In 2020, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Reality or Augmented Reality (AR) technologies will continue blurring the borders between the real and digital worlds. The success which such pioneers as Ikea, Toyota, LEGO, and Zara reached with their VR/AR-powered apps has inspired many other businesses to take a fresh look at the way they promote and sell products.

LEGO ar app
Image source: kidscreen.com

The development of applications containing virtual reality or augmented reality elements has also become more accessible in terms of costs and availability of specialists. All these factors lay the groundwork for a boom in VR/AR that can happen any year now. Of course, not all business areas will adopt these technologies equally fast. But such sectors as interior design, e-commerce, and fashion will likely become dependent on this type of interaction design in the near future.

For instance, at the beginning of this year, Gucci launched its AR-based app that allows users to try on sneakers by pointing a smartphone camera at their feet.

Gucci AR app
Image source: designboom.com

In May, Nike released its own mobile app that uses augmented reality technology to help customers accurately define their size.

Since online shopping is an active and ever-growing niche (e.g. about 60 percent of millennials prefer it over traditional shopping), we have all reason to believe that similar functionality will become industry standard quite soon.

3D design is taking over the app world

In our 2019 State of UX article, we were writing about Memoji which had been introduced with the release of iOS12. In the last twelve months, designers have started to use both static and dynamic 3D elements more frequently. The trend of 3D design has become vivid and noticeable.

Besides being eye-catching, a 3D presentation of interfaces helps to deliver a truly realistic user experience. A study shows that modern people are online for nearly 7 hours per day. This means that we spend an enormous amount of time in a virtual environment.

A 3D view makes our stay there more natural and comfortable. That’s why leveraging the power of 3D will be a great idea for all app creators and website owners in 2020.

3d design app
Image credit: Chris Frank

In case you’re not sure if 3D elements will suit the overall visual identity of your brand, you can perform a site design audit before introducing any changes. Doing so will make it easier for you to get to grips with the big picture and make informed decisions.

Adaptability to the new foldable phones

The year of 2019 has been an important milestone for phone manufacturers all over the world. The long-awaited foldable displays finally became a reality. Practically all market leaders either expressed their interest in developing such a device or unveiled their prototypes capable of being folded in numerous different ways.

Realizing that stakes were high, Samsung tried to outrun its competitors. In April, the company pre-released its Galaxy Fold, the world’s first foldable smartphone.

Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Although the device was exposed to a number of quality concerns and Samsung had to delay its release, we have all reason to expect that foldable displays will enter the global mass market in 2020. This will naturally bring a lot of changes to user experience, for example:

  • A grip will depend on whether a person is holding a folded and unfolded device. The main task of UX designers is to make it convenient for both cases.
  • A user will have to be able to switch between different forms of a device seamlessly. That’s why app creators must ensure the continuity of an application, meaning that a person should have an opportunity to continue using it when upgrading to a new device.
  • Unfolded devices will allow users to have multiple active apps on their screens. So to create a truly outstanding user experience, designers will need to keep this multitasking capability in mind.
Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Versatile UX for device-neutral apps

Ever since the IoT technology came on the scene, the discussions about platform-agnostic applications have never left the tech community. Nowadays, our personal digital ecosystem is much richer than five, three, or even two years ago. We use mobile phones, PC, and laptops interchangeably on a daily basis but also wearables, smart home appliances (like Google home), and car dashboards (like the one Tesla offers).

For many years, responsiveness has been the main requirement of web solutions. However, responsive design is no longer optional, it’s the default. Today’s users will unlikely to tolerate an application that doesn’t adjust to screen size or platform.

responsive design
Image source: giphy.com

But, on top of that, they expect to receive an integrated experience. This means that information must be consistent across all the systems. And the process should be continuous, allowing a user to pick it up at any point on any device.

That’s why we foresee that device integration and synchronization will get to the forefront next year. Logically, creating a versatile UX design will become a huge new challenge for designers in 2020.

User control over the content

The interactive experience is another ‘big thing’ that has a huge potential to become a major UX trend in 2020. To be precise, some forward-thinking marketers had been trying to promote products with the help of interactive videos before. But this type of content, where the user interacts directly with the content, only managed to generate massive interest after Bandersnatch, a Black Mirror’s interactive episode, was released on 28 December 2018.

Bandersnatch
Image source: meg.onemega.com

As it turned out, fashion brands and e-commerce stores became the first adopters of interactive videos. This is because such videos not only offer an immersive experience but they also are an efficient money-catching tool. By watching them, users can shop while still consuming the content. This allows them to act on their desire to buy a product when the desire is at its highest point.

interactive shopping video
Image source: cdn.trendhunterstatic.com

Besides making online shopping easier and faster, interactive videos are also more enjoyable and captivating than ordinary videos. If you want to create a stunning visual design with a great user experience that will allow you to win over the competition in the coming year, then giving users better control over the content is definitely the right thing to start with.

Expansion of interface animations

Adding motion to button, tabs, menus and other visual elements is not a brand new thing in UI/UX design. We’ve seen it this year and it’ll continue being popular in 2020. However, as animations seem to still be in the process of gaining momentum, we’ll probably see even more animated interfaces on our screens in the next twelve months. Just like 3D design, moving objects help UX designers grab users’ attention as well as make their experience more realistic and engaging.

interface animations
Image source: tubikstudio.com

Yet, it’s important to remember that every animation you implement into the app interface should serve a purpose. In other words, you don’t have to animate everything on a page. If you do so, a user will be distracted by visual noise – which is no doubt not the outcome you’re aiming at.

Instead, you may create a feedback animation that will make app navigation easier. Specifically, it’ll show users that they’re on the right path after an action is taken.

feedback animation
Image credit: tubikstudio.com

Animated progress indicators are also a nice idea for most mobile apps. They help users understand that there aren’t any problems with the application, it just needs more time to perform a certain task.

Animated progress indicator
Image source: Dribbble

If you have doubts about whether you need to add more animated elements to the interface or not, we recommend you to conduct a design audit first.

Typography will still matter a lot

When it comes to conveying messages, companies have a wide array of formats to choose from. But while videos and images are considered the most captivating, text content remains the main and the most effective method of communication in the online world. That’s why typography never loses its relevance and, of course, it will still be in the spotlight in 2020.

What major change may we expect in the year to come? As a rule, a user gets a meaningful and memorable experience only when the design is well-balanced and consistent. Since we’ll probably see more 3D elements and animations in the interfaces, typography will have to reflect these effects too.

typography animated
Image source: andreirobu.com

Of course, this doesn’t mean that San-Serif fonts, which are now widely used in the digital space, will completely disappear during the next year. But UI/UX designers will become more creative with the way text is presented on a page. Chaotic typography with mixed sizes and patterns (e.g. filled and outlined letters), as well as experiments with text directions, will likely be quite common in 2020.

Chaotic typography
Image source: Dribbble (by Oleh Gvozdetskyi)

The obsession with dark themes

Dark Mode became the most noticeable visual change brought by iOS13 in September 2019. The feature provides the option of replacing the bright colors of an interface with black and dark grey, making it more pleasant for eyes in a poorly lit environment. During the month that followed this release, dark modes were also introduced by Instagram, Gmail, and Facebook (partially). So we can make confident predictions about the dark mode ‘fever’ that will likely expand in 2020.

iOS 13 dark mode
Image source: techradar.com

Besides aesthetic value, dark themes also improve the readability of text and are perceived as less harsh if a person uses a device at night. Whether to enable it or not is a matter of personal preference. But if you implement such a mode for your app, your users will for sure appreciate it.

Custom illustrations will fill up the interfaces

In 2020, designers will have to cooperate with digital illustrators more frequently as bespoke interface illustrations are another emerging UI/UX trend. Stock photos that have been quite popular for many years now are no longer acceptable. Stock photos simply don’t offer the level of uniqueness most brands and users seek. At the same time, digital art is much more flexible in terms of styles, shapes, compositions, and characters.

But catchiness isn’t the only reason why illustrations are so powerful. The correct illustrations in combination with other elements on a web page can help you make the right emphasis and draw visitors’ attention to the CTAs. They also make an interface more emotionally appealing and help to create the right tone and mood.

web page illustration
Image source: Dribbble (by Tubik)

Speaking about mobile development, custom illustrations have always been less popular in this sector. However, such a situation is going to change as they’re getting more and more common – not only on the onboarding screens but also at other touchpoints (e.g. error notifications).

mobile interface illustration
Image source: Dribble (by Icons8 team)

The final word

We want to give you a comprehensive review of the trends which will likely define the UX design space of 2020. We made our conclusions based on our professional experience and the latest information about technological advancements. Yet, the digital world is hyperdynamic and a lot may change in a blink of an eye.

Some innovative solutions may appear completely unexpectedly and change the rules of the game across several industries. But don’t worry. We’ll keep track of UX best practices of 2020 and let you know about all important trends.

Want to build your next product with us? Reach out!

Removing The Mystery of UX Design

By design No Comments

This article is an entry level of UX design, written for UX designers.

UX design is about developing products that are both usable and user-centric. The “design” aspect focuses on how the ease of use and efficiency for a user’s interaction with a product can be improved. The question you probably often ask yourself, though, is how it all works in practice? What do real-life UX design processes actually look like?

In this article, I want to show you how to start a UX design project. The article will give you a taste of the techniques used by UX designers when working on designing or redesigning a product, as well as show you the order in which specific UX steps should be taken. We’ll touch on subjects such as User Research, Design, and Testing.

Before Project Starts

To craft good user experience both the business context and project objectives must be clearly understood. Before starting any design project it’s important to create a strategy. A strategy will shape the goals of the project—what the business is hoping to achieve with the project and how its success should be measured.

Value Proposition

Value proposition is a process of mapping out the key aspects of the product: what it is, who it is for and when/where it will be used. Value proposition helps the team narrow down and create consensus around what the product will be.

UX designers create a document to communicate a value proposition which contains the following information:

  • Key business objectives
  • UX attributes that will influence the success (both directly and indirectly) of the key objectives and desired outcomes
  • Desired state of these UX attributes
  • A list of activities and design work that can be done to improve the state of the UX
Value proposition of UX should be directly associated with key business objectives. Image credits: uxmag

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

KPIs help inform design decisions along the way and measure results of the UX efforts.
Usually, UX designers conduct a series of interviews with stakeholders to define KPIs.

Same as for value proposition, the key is to connect your KPIs to your business objectives. A few common examples of KPIs:

  • Conversion (sales / visits)
  • Bounce rate (e.g. basket abandonment for e-commerce site)
  • Average order value
  • Total number of sales

UX Design Process Explained

Once UX designer has a clear idea of a product definition and how it might fit into the current market, s/he moves into user-centric modelling. Although there are no hard and fast rules to this process, UX design generally occurs in the following five stages:

Value proposition of UX should be directly associated with key business objectives. Image credits: Usability Geek

Step 1: User Research

Dieter Rams once said, “You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people”. A great product experience starts with a good understanding of your users. That’s why user research is every UX designer’s starting point for a UX design project. User research has to come first in the UX design process because without it, designer’s work can only be based on their own experiences and assumptions.

“Good user research is key to designing a great user experience. Designing without good user research is like building a house without solid foundations – your design will soon start to crumble and will eventually fall apart.” – Neil Turner (Uxforthemasses)

Research phase is probably the most variable between projects. What is involved In user research:

Interviews

Interview is an in-depth one-on-one discussion between an interviewer and a user from the target audience. Interview should be designed to discover the underlying needs and requirements of the user when using your product. This technique is especially useful when the target audience is new or unknown to the team.

When starting a new project, you actually need to talk to people from your target group.

Online surveys

An online survey is a questionnaire consisting of a set of very precise questions sent to a sample of your target audience over the internet. The length and format of an online survey can vary from project to project.

Interviews and online survey can work together. Before you start writing questions for your online survey, take the time to conduct a few interviews to fully understand the user’s problem space. This will help inform your survey questions.

Surveys are used to validate the assumptions that designers make about a product. Image credits: Usability Geek

There are many tools available for running surveys, ranging from lightweight and inexpensive tools right through to specialist market research tools. For most UX applications simple surveys tools such as Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or Wufoo should offer adequate functionality to create surveys.

Competitive analysis

Evaluating the competition is one way to determine where a designed product stands, and what potential markets it can break into. When conducting a competitive analysis, UX designer evaluates a competing product’s usability, interaction design, and unique features, to see how their own product stacks up. Competitive analysis is especially important when designers are building an entirely new product that hasn’t entered the market yet. A competitive analysis gives insight into what competitors are doing right, and what difficulties they face, leaving opportunities available.

Research the competitors, get information about features, advantages and disadvantages Image credits: xtensio

Step 2: Analyze & Define

The aim of the Analyze & Define phase is to draw insights from data collected during the User Research phase. This step is clearly the ideation part of the process.

Persona

When a designer has finished a user research and know what users need and what they expect, s/he can summarize those findings into user personas. Personas are fictional characters which are used as a representation of a real audience and their behaviours. The purpose of personas is to create reliable representations of target audience segments for reference (UX designers build a product based on personas). Personas make it easier for designers to create empathy with users throughout the design process.

Persona’s template by romanpichler

User Stories

Once UX designer has a clear idea of who might use a product, it’s time to map out how they might use it. Every user has a goal to achieve, UX designer needs to define each step that the user will go through to get to the final goal. These steps will shape a user story. Good user story must clarify the specific type of user, describe the task with comparable detail, and clarify on the context in which work must be done.

Each individual action needs a corresponding user story. Image credits: UXPin

Step 3: Design

The premise of the Design is to create a product which will be tested with real users. This product may be represented by paper or interactive prototypes, interactive wireframes, or semi-functioning prototypes. The Design phase of a UX project should be collaborative (involving input and ideas from all team members) and iterative.

Information Architecture

Navigation is a make or break aspect of the user experience of a site/app. Each person who’ll get lost navigating through a site is going to have a bad experience of that product. To avoid these scenarios, UX designers perform a process called Information Architecture (IA). The purpose of IA is to organize the content on a site so that users can find exactly what they need to perform the task they want and to reach their goal.

The outcome of IA process varies based on the type of a project. If UX designer is creating a website, s/he’ll create a sitemap during this step. Sitemap is one of the most iconic IA deliverables, consists of a diagram of the website’s pages organized hierarchically.

Sitemaps are a hierarchical diagram showing the structure of a website or application. It makes it easy to visualize the basic structure and navigation of a website.Image credits: kristenjoybaker

Card sorting is one of the most popular UX techniques used for creating IA. During card sorting session, users organize topics from content within an app/website into groups that make sense to them.

Organizing the hierarchy of the content using card sorting technique. Image credits: Zurb

Brainstorming and sketching

Brainstorming is the most frequently practiced form of ideation. Brainstorming helps to generate constraint-free ideas that respond to a given creative brief. The intention of brainstorming is to leverage the collective thinking of the group, by engaging with each other, listening, and building on other ideas.

Brainstorming relies on a group of people coming together with their prior knowledge and research in order to gather ideas for solving the stated problem. Image credits: Tubik Studio

Brainstorming work in tandem with sketching. Sketching is the easiest way of visualizing ideas.All you need is just pen and paper. Sketching allows designers to visualize a broad range of design solutions before deciding which one to stick with. I haven’t met a single designer who doesn’t use quick sketching or some other paper prototyping form at the early stage of a design process.

Whiteboard sketches. Image credits: Dribbble
Sketches bring ideas to life. Image credits:webdesignerdepot

Wireframing

Wireframes are the “blueprint for design.” A wireframe represents the page structure, as well as its hierarchy and key elements. Wireframes tie together the underlying conceptual structure (information architecture) with the visible part of design (visual design). The process of wireframing helps designers uncover different methods for representing content and information as well as prioritizing that content in according to the user’s goals.

Wireframes aren’t supposed to represent the visual design or contact graphic elements. They should be quick, cheap, and simple to create.

Wireframe can be a quick sketch on scratch paper. Image credits: UXPin

User Flow

User Flow is the path a user follows through an application. The flow doesn’t have to be linear, it can branch out in a non-linear path. User flows are helpful in hashing out complex flows before prototyping a product. Creating users flows will help the designer think about what happens to the user before & after they visit a particular page.

37 Signals created a helpful shorthand for User Flows which you might consider during crafting your own flow.

Shorthand for User flows

Prototyping

A prototype is a simulation of the final product. Basically, it’s a version of a product that takes designer as close as possible to a good representation of an app/website and its user interface before any coding has begun. Prototype makes it possible to test the product — see how the overall design works and fix any inconsistencies.

Prototypes can be either low-fidelity or high-fidelity. Lo-fi prototypes help you focus on creating the smoothest flows for users to accomplish their goals.

Low-fidelity prototyping a quick way to validate a product before fully developing it. Image credit: Smartlogic
The user flows are the heart of your prototype. Image credits: Flickr

While high-fidelity prototype can be a fully-interactive version of a product.

High-fidelity interactive prototype. Image credits: prototypr

An interactive prototype has functional animations and microinteractions which are used to build meaning behind about the spatial relationships, functionality, and intention of the system.

Animated feedback in high-fidelity interactive prototype. Image credit: Dribbble

Animation can contribute heavily to the user experience if used correctly. Both functional and delightful animations can be used to deliver a feedback:

Animated microinteraction (notification trigger). Image credits: Dribbble
Animated microinteraction (floating labels). Image credits: Matt D. Smith

Step 4: Testing

The premise of the Testing phase is to put ideas in front of users, get their feedback, and refine the design. It’s important to understand that the earlier you test, the easier it is to make changes and thus the greater impact the testing has on the eventual quality of the product.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is usually a one-to-one, moderated in-person usability session. The purpose of in-person usability testing is to identify problems or issues the user has while interacting with a product. Test participant performs tasks using a product while the UX designer observes and taking notes. When conducting usability testing it’s crucial you observe the actions the user takes without intruding on their actions or decisions.

Testing doesn’t need not be either time consuming or expensive. Jakob Nielsen’s research has found that testing with 5 users generally unveils 85% of usability problems.

A/B Testing

A/B Testing (also known as split testing) is a form of quantitative analysis comparing two different versions of a product (e.g. two different types of landing pages). A/B testing makes it easier for UX designer to test hypotheses about design. A/B testing helps if you already have a product/service and need to improve it.

A/B testing is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. Image credits: vwo

Accessibility Analysis

Accessibility enables people with disabilities to perceive and interact with a product. A well-designed product is accessible to users of all abilities, including those with low vision, blindness, hearing impairments or motor impairments.

Accessibility analysis checks that a product can be used by everyone, including users with special needs. W3C guidelines define a basic set of accessibility rules. By following these rules UX design increases changes that all users are satisfied. It’s possible to use an automated tool to regularly test your service’s accessibility. One of the popular automated tools is WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool)

Step 5: Measuring

Unlike any other discipline, UX designer’s work doesn’t stop with releasing a product. UX is an ongoing process that continues for as long as a product will be used by people. UX designers should continually measure product performance to see if it meets user satisfaction and if any improvements can be made.

Metrics Analysis

Numbers provided by an analytics tool tell designers about how the user interacts with a product: clicks, session time, search queries etc. Metrics analysis and usability testing work great together because metrics can “uncover the unexpected”, surfacing behaviours that are not explicit in user tests.

Analytics tools such as Google Analytics can offer quantitative results about what is happening on your site.

User Feedback

Metrics analysis helps UX designer to understand what is happening on a site/in an app. But when it comes to uncovering why, the true value lies in collecting qualitative data.

User feedback allows UX designer to discover the reasons behind the actions that analytics tools show. With an option to leave feedback, users can effortlessly report anything that’s causing the friction. This feedback item can then be labelled and filtered directly to UX designer’s mailbox.

With an option to leave feedback, users can effortlessly report anything that’s causing the friction.

Conclusion

While we’ve described the most common UX design methods and deliverables that can help the design process, it’s important to understand that each project is different and it’s often important to adapt the techniques to your own needs (in other words, you don’t need to follow them like textbook examples).