What a UX designer actually does
A UX designer’s role is to make a product usable and enjoyable for its users, but what do they do on a day-to-day basis? It’s probably important to say here, a UX designer does not have to be super creative. A lot of the UX work does at Bigger Picture is done in collaboration with the creative and strategy teams.
Our approach to UX design changes for every project as a fixed process can’t work for everyone. Each project is unique and requires a tailored approach. A 1,000-page ecommerce site is way different to a 5-page microsite and every app we touch has different objectives.
Research is the starting point to most, if not every project there is, and UX designers are no exception to this. Proper research provides the starting point for a great design, allowing designers to avoid assumptions and make accurate decisions based on the information.
Our research tends to include:
- Interviews with employees and customers
- Competitor analysis
- Google Search Console and Analytics analysis
- Persona analysis
The information gathered through research is used for decision making through the process of the design. We get to understand the brand, its competitors and most importantly, the people we are designing for.
2. Giving your users a persona and creating scenarios
Personas are one of the most important processes for us and most UX designers. Creating fictional characters that make up your clients now and what you want them to be helps define a strategy. Age, personality, goals and frustrations are used along with motivators to help prioritise website features and decide what content sits where. We normally create three or four personas that will all take different journey’s through the website to come to that ultimate conversion decision.
3. Information Architecture (IA)
After the research has been done and the personas have been created, a UX designer will have to define the Information architecture. Information architecture is the process of organising, structuring and labelling content in an effective and sustainable way.
For example, we’ll normally sketch out a navigation bar to help users understand where they are on the site. It does of course go way beyond nav bars. How different pieces of content link together, how we’ll signpost them and create a UX focussed journey is harder than it sounds but so worth it. Increasing page views, time on site and engagement leads to better conversion rates.
I will be going into a lot more detail about Website Information Architecture in another article very soon.
4. Developing Wireframes
Creating a wireframe is the next step for a UX designer. A wireframe is a visual representation of a user interface. It is used by UX designers to determine the hierarchy of items on screen and decide what items should be on that page based on the user’s needs.
An easy way to think about a wireframe is comparing it to building a house. Every house needs a floor plan to ensure that it functions well, and the occupants are happy with everything. The same goes for a website or app, a UX designer needs to plan the basics before it can be made to look pretty.
On occasion our team sometimes skip a wireframe process and jump into prototyping. In the nicest way possible using my above analogy about a floor plan, some website are like building a card board box. The best-looking card board of course.
5. Creating prototypes
Prototyping is used to represent a good idea of how the final product will look and interact. When demonstrating an interactive design, there isn’t much point in showing the customer a static image. I am gobsmacked at how many creative agencies still use this approach. If you ever see me print out a website, please shoot me! You can’t click, hover, swipe and interact with a piece of paper or static image. If that’s what you get in a prototype, then please call me now.
Prototyping properly will give you an almost finished product look and feel. We do prototypes directly in browser, using disposable code. It’s creative development at its finest and how we believe our projects stand out from the crowd. Doing this also means there is no room for miscommunication or understanding between design and dev teams. Giving a static design to a developer and say make it come to life is probably their worst nightmare.
Testing the website/app helps the UX designer discover problems that users may experience when engaging with it.
A good way to conduct testing is by observing a user’s behaviour in person as they use the website. A UX designer can use what they have discovered to adapt the design and improve user experience. As time goes by and more data collected, UX improvements should never end. Improving things like bounce rate, pages viewed and time on site is something we constantly do for our projects.
Evaluating a current system
If there is a system already in place, a UX designer will evaluate its current state in detail. Any issues will be reported, and fixes suggested based on their analysis of research data.
A/B testing is used to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of experience between different user interfaces.