Answering What is UX/UI Design and a Blueprint for Projects
PropelrrFebruary 6, 2023
Find all the answers you need about what is UX/UI (user experience and user interface design) and how you can jumpstart projects, right here.
In today’s digital age, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design have become critical components of digital marketing as it affects a slew of your business goals. From conversions to, ultimately, customer satisfaction, UI and UX design help directly impact your bottom line.
As businesses now exist mainly or, in part, online, this has become more true. And as rapid technological development and an emphasis on user-centricity become more than mere trends, the demand for intuitive and seamless interfaces and experiences is expected to grow.
This is proven further by the increasing business demand for UI/UX designers that are ironically scarce in any industry. In fact, in a recent post published by LinkedIn, UI/UX designers were among the top 50 most in-demand jobs in the market.
All this evidence solidifies the notion that businesses are interested in the practice and the tremendous benefits it has to achieve growth. The next question we then ask ourselves is not a matter of why we need UI/UX design but rather, how we can democratize it for modern businesses.
RELATED READING: How UX Design can Help Marketers Achieve Online Objectives
To do this, we tackle what it is we mean by UI/UX design, its implications to business, and a helpful guide for getting your first few steps into it checked off.
What is UI/UX Design?
User experience (UX) design is the process of creating “products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users,” according to the Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF). It focuses on the technical implementations that help improve the site or app functionality and interaction.
User interface (UI) design, on the other hand, focuses more on the looks and style of websites and applications from the user’s viewport.
UI and UX designers and developers collaboratively follow this process in such a way that anticipates a user’s needs and then designs an optimized user journey. This optimal customer journey should have no friction as possible, eventually leading them to an interaction or conversion.
The importance of UI/UX design
That great user experiences lead to more conversions is only one layer of the value of UX design in digital marketing.
UX designers and their work are crucial to the practice of digital marketing because so many parts of the consumer journey happen on your website. On top of that, investing in UX design benefits businesses. Some of these benefits include reducing operational costs while facilitating more transactions, customer engagement, and satisfaction.
But UX design is not always good and some websites or apps make you wonder if it considers integrating it at all. To know the good from the bad, we outlined some key differences below.
Good versus bad user experience
What is good UX design?
Not all UX blueprints are created equal. As with any process, there are good and bad UX designs, especially in the context of website development. Here are a few qualities of good design for your next UX project, according to Peter Morville of Semantic Studio:
- Useful. Your elements fulfill a customer’s need.
- Usable. The overall website is easy to use.
- Desirable. The design evokes an appreciation for the brand.
- Findable. Relevant content is easy to find, online and offline.
- Accessible. Website elements are accessible to all users.
- Credible. All contents are factually correct and believable.
According to Think with Google, the company’s digital innovation center, your blueprint should also accomplish certain goals. Through your strategy, your website should entice users to:
- Take action. The blueprint should guide the user experience toward your desired customer action.
- Get emotional. The right UX blueprint will reflect your brand’s identity, voice, and style, to attract your target audiences.
Overall, good UX design generates meaningful experiences at every touchpoint. It ensures a strategy-first approach that guides users in their journey, from click to cart, to customer conversion.
So if that’s good, then what is bad UX design?
Anyone who’s been on the internet has some idea of what bad UX is. Here are a few pain points for you to identify and avoid as a web developer:
- Bad copywriting. Fact: If the copywriting doesn’t pull users in, they won’t commit to a conversion.
- Intrusive pop-ups. Everyone hates distractions. Don’t let pop-ups distract your potential customers away from your goal of having them complete a conversion on your website.
- Slow-loading websites. Do you like it when websites take a long time to load? If not, then optimize your page speed.
- Unnecessary complexity. Simplicity is key when it comes to UX design. Keep your web design straight to the point to avoid a difficult navigation experience for your users.
- Obnoxious or boring color scheme. As a designer, you need to strike a balance between chaos and dullness. Use better visual content to encourage positive responses from your potential customers.
- Lack of engagement. People go to your company for a reason; so make sure to communicate with them. Don’t let it be a one-sided relationship on your website.
- Doesn’t meet credibility principles. More than anything, trust in your brand will ensure your customers keep going back to you. Establish your website’s credibility and trustworthiness, to help maintain user trust.
If you’re curating user experiences for anyone online, avoid the pain points above, as you strategize for your UX design. Doing so will help secure successful conversions by every customer who clicks on your website or landing page.
Now that you are more familiar with good and bad user experience design, learn how to get into UX design strategies that are specific and actionable for your upcoming UX projects.
UX design in web development
User experience plays a significant role in keeping the readers or customers on your website. A good UX design helps consumers obtain what they need on your website, based on its usability and interaction design.
Producing good UX for a website involves a meticulous process. So, what does the UX design process look like? Here’s a step-by-step process on how to start your first-ever UX project:
1. Conduct comprehensive research.
Jumping into a project empty-handed is risky. While trial and error may seem forgivable, taking wild guesses in a project would only be counterproductive for you and your team. This is why ample research is required to establish a good backbone for any type of project.
The same goes for establishing a good UX design. Thorough research must be done before being able to strategize for your website or product. How is research conducted for UX design?
In a UX research article by Maryna Samsyka, she said that research for UX involves collecting information from users through surveys, testing, and other methods. The information gathered helps UX designers tweak or create ideas that fit the needs of the users.
“It’s not about making them love my ideas, it’s about tailoring my ideas so that they can be loved by the user,” Samsyka said.
2. Conduct a heuristic evaluation.
You might be wondering what a heuristic evaluation (HE) is, especially in the context of UX design. Simply put, HE in UX design is the process wherein experts review your current plans to make sure it’s as user-friendly as possible.
To conduct a heuristic evaluation, subject matter experts (SMEs) will provide an objective review of your current web pages with a few key principles in mind. These principles will depend on which website evaluation framework you are basing your tear-down on.
For starters, you can combine a series of product messaging heuristics to refine the copies of your pages. To ensure that your websites are functioning and meeting fundamental expectations, you should also conduct a usability heuristic evaluation.
After the evaluations are done, gather your SMEs’ specific and actionable suggestions and get the ball rolling on improvements on your UX design project.
This initial HE is a great way to achieve conversion optimization on any existing web design, with all the expert advice you get from this process.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: A Step-by-Step Guide to Heuristics Analysis for UX Design
3. Validate recommendations by analyzing your current performance.
Before acting on recommendations from your evaluations, first validate the SMEs’ findings by analyzing your current performance, with the help of analytics tools.
A side-by-side comparison of your qualitative vs quantitative data should answer whether or not your HE findings align with your current user experience design’s actual performance. If they do, this confirms that the SMEs’ findings are valid and applicable to your business and design process.
For verification, use Google Analytics User Flow or MS Clarity Heat Maps to visually map out user paths from beginning to end. This way, you can analyze, improve, and validate the HE recommendations on your current design process.
4. Sketch your initial design based on the recommendations.
Now it’s time to create your newly upgraded website. At this point, your UX design should meet emotional intelligence. Below are some key points to consider in executing this
A. Create a smooth user flow.
At this stage, a UX designer should be able to lay out the user flow of the website, from start to end of the user’s experience. Accomplish this by creating a flowchart or a diagram to map out their experience
Your web design must be user-centric. Therefore, this user experience must be efficient in achieving a user’s goal. Let principle help you as a designer, to decide on the finer details of your user flow.
B. Establish the wireframe.
After creating the user flow, UX designers can now come up with a wireframe of the product or the website. A wireframe serves as the UX blueprint that will outline the website’s visual structure.
Think of it as a site map; wireframes allow designers to visualize which elements should be utilized for an optimal user experience. Wireframes are essential in any UX design project; so make sure to use the right tools to create this essential framework.
Some of the most commonly used tools are Balsamiq, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Invision Studio.
5. Implement your design through prototypes.
Now that you have a wireframe, it’s time to develop your website and implement your design through prototypes. This is one of the longest processes in UX design; so practice patience and welcome difficulties that may come your way.
At this stage, your website’s backend will be developed, based on the user flow and sitemap from the previous stage. This backend then gets implemented based on the optimal user interface of your website.
Then, once the interface and layout are finalized, add and finalize additional graphics for your website. Throughout this lengthy stage, keep in mind your goal to ensure an optimized and improved user experience for your potential customers.
6. Conduct multiple user tests.
With any user experience design, you’ll need the actual experience of your users to validate your design. Through the prototypes you developed, your target users can test and comment on the website, first-hand.
Prototype testing. Analyze your website with online usability testing tools. Websites like UsabilityHub, Userbob, and Indigo Studio offer usability testing; so you can see how your design would work in real-time.
This type of user testing is essential to the overall process. It gives you an initial idea of what needs to be improved in your web design. It might be easy for you to understand your design, but it might not be that clear to your actual users.
By conducting multiple user tests, you’ll have an initial idea of whether the strategy is truly effective or not. These tests will help you determine if the user flow is smooth and user-friendly. Listen to the suggestions of your test users, and make changes to your plans if necessary.
Overall, you’ll need to repeat steps 3 to 5 on this list, as needed, to fully establish your final web design before launching.
7. Launch your UX design.
After designing, implementing, and testing your website multiple times, you’ll finally reach the point where you’re satisfied with your work. If everything seems to be fully optimized and improved, you can finally celebrate and launch your brilliant new website.
However, know that the job of a UX designer doesn’t stop after the website is launched. Remember that UX designers must be updated on the latest wants and needs of users, as time goes on. Your UX project is really more of an iterative process that improves according to user needs over time.
8. Continuously develop updates.
The final step to this comprehensive UX blueprint is to continuously develop updates for your web design. This step is necessary to keep up with the evolving standards of your users.
So how can a web designer come up with regular updates? You can update and upgrade your design by listening to user experiences and feedback. You can also do this by going back to step one with another HE.
As you may have noticed, the past seven steps weren’t linear in direction. For good user experience design, you need to be constantly iterative and open to improvement. This means you’ll go back a few steps a lot of times throughout this whole process.
This back-and-forth between steps can be frustrating for any web designer. Manage this frustration and stress by following a few best practices in UX design, to help ensure that your upcoming UX projects will be smooth sailing.
UX design best practices to keep in mind
Before you launch straight to your next UX project, study these useful UX best practices that are aligned to the HE concepts:
- Follow visual hierarchy. Prioritize the important points of your website by following the rule of visual hierarchy in your design.
- Divine proportions. Incorporate divine proportions, like the Golden Ratio or the Fibonacci sequence, into your visuals to make them more pleasing to the eye.
- Hick’s Law. The more options you give, the less your audience will be drawn in. Filter out distractions from your design to curate a smooth flow for your users.
- Fitt’s Law. The math behind it is complicated, but the concept is simple: the bigger and closer an element is, the easier it is to use. Keep this in mind when you’re finalizing key elements of your web design.
- Rule of Thirds. Include images in your design and make sure they follow the Rule of Thirds for a more interesting and aesthetically pleasing user experience.
- Gestalt Design Laws. Users will see the whole of your website, first, before its individual parts. Let these Gestalt Design Laws guide you in optimizing your website for an effective user experience.
- White space, clean design, and Occam’s Razor. Once again, remember that simplicity is key. Hence, try to use white space and clean design to ensure a clear-cut customer journey on your website. Follow Occam’s Razor and offer simple solutions to your customers’ needs. You may find that this is the best you can do for your users.
- Credibility principles. Lastly, you can keep your customers coming back for more if they can trust your design. Follow website credibility principles to develop user trust and loyalty over time.
The user experience design process can be quite meticulous and arduous. Employ an optimal, effective, and up-to-date design that addresses user needs to help ensure customer conversions and keep these key points in mind:
- Potential customers expect a seamless experience to complete transactions. Don’t get too caught up on fancy features that can only confuse your visitors. Sometimes, a simple and intuitive design goes a much longer way than flashy, feature-filled websites.
- Improving isn’t easy, but it can certainly be worth your effort. Heuristics evaluation can be tough. Prototyping and user testing? Even tougher. However, if you keep at it, the possible rewards may more than makeup for your hard work and efforts.
- Learn from your customers. Keep an open mind to every feedback you receive from your customers, especially the negative ones. This can serve as an opportunity for growth in every aspect of your UX design.
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