Simplicity, curiosity and empathy - these are among the most important skills a UX designer can possess. But what is UX, really?
It’s the science behind the UI. We, designers, balance on both analytical and creative thinking to find the right problem to solve. The way we do it is by coming up with a theory first. Then, through unbiased research and user testing, we dig deeper into the core of the problem and tweak that theory. Once the theory is proven (or close enough), we do the UI work. Anything can be a theory. From colors, type and layout to workflows, data set and strategy.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve been working with great teams across rising startups, small businesses and personal projects. I had a great opportunity to learn and refine my skills, designing intuitive B2C and B2B web and mobile products for clients in finance, health, travel and social sectors, working solo and leading small teams.
All projects differ in their nature and goals and yet it's important to have a defined design process from beginning to end. Steps may vary, but generally, I have 5:
The first step in any project is to get a better understanding of the client, their vision, values and what makes them different. It’s important to set correct goals, determine product features and estimate the scope of work that will provide an optimal business impact.
In-depth research is the reality check every project needs. It helps to understand the market condition, analyze competitors and figure out users' needs, wants and pains. This is a critical step to remove assumptions and back up design decisions with qualitative data that help to avoid mistakes that would otherwise cost the extra time, money and resources.
This is where the “usability” magic happens. The architecture of a system is equally, if not more, important than how it looks and works. Leveraging research data and project objectives, the goal is to build the easiest and most pleasant experience for users, helping them to get to their goals as quickly as possible with minimum fuss.
Visual design is an essential part of a well-thought-out product and the first impression it makes. Its importance in communicating the product values, making the product comforting, engaging, and desirable for users. Building a prototype helps to simulate the real product and test the design for errors early on before it comes into production.
Once the product is released and people using it, it’s a great opportunity to review its performance. Aggregating feedback, synthesizing it and iterating based on user needs is the way to learn, improve and make the product better.