How Product Design Works
User experience is the complete process that provides the backbone for good design and UI. By using various research tools and methods, you can gather essential user behavioral data and insights that will help you come up with the right product design solutions.
End-to-end UX is therefore a quite extensive process that significantly differs across industries and types of businesses and projects. The approach to designing a fintech payments app, for example, will be different from the one used to develop a dating app.
However, most product and UX designers will generally go through the following 5 key stages of “design thinking”: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
Effective UX always starts with the user. Most products are developed to meet a particular user need/s. Hence, understanding the end-user and their exact needs, demands, and behaviors is crucial for the success of any product design project.
There are various tools UX designers can use to study and analyse their target audience, but one of the most popular ones is the “Empathy map” model.
An empathy map is a valuable tool for visualising ideas. It enables you to conceive a user’s perception about your solution or product and identify any gaps and opportunities in their behaviours. An empathy map usually captures key information about what users experience, how they feel and behave in certain circumstances, as well as their pains, gains and aspirations.
To create an effective empathy map, you would have to follow 3 key steps:
- Identify your exact target audience;
- Liaise with both internal and external stakeholders to exchange insights, fill any gaps and populate the map;
- Identify user’s unique attitude and perceptions about the problems your product seeks to solve.
The next stage of the UX design process is define. The goal of this stage is to identify key user groups who might benefit from using your product or solution in a similar way and the major problem/s they face. To do this, UX designers usually use the following three tools:
User personas — The user persona model can help you gain even further insight into who your target audience is. The model is based on the principle of profiling and involves categorizing users into various groups with common personal traits like background, beliefs, feelings, pain points, and interests.
Problem statement — After completing the persona profiling, UX designers will often use the insights collected during the process to come up with a clear problem statement. The problem statement is considered to be the key to creating a successful product because it helps developers spot any gaps between the problem itself (the user needs) and the purpose of the product and its design (the solution). Generally, the statement aims to explain / demonstrate what the expected experience will look like once the solution / product is delivered.
Interview of key stakeholders — The define stage usually ends with interviewing key stakeholders of the business to make sure all business goals and objectives (e. g. revenue targets) match the user needs.
The ideate stage of the UX product design process is all about brainstorming the best ideas and solutions to solve the problem. Among the most widely used tools at this stage are the “How might we” Q&A method, sketching and storyboarding or illustrating.
After selecting the best ideas or solutions that meet both the user needs and business goals, UX designers move to the validation stage or prototyping. Creating a prototype is essential to ensure the viability of a product. A prototype is an experimental model of an idea that allows you to test it before building the complete solution or product. There are multiple ways for creating a prototype like drawing a sketch on a piece of paper or developing functional simulations that look and feel like a real product.
The last stage of the UX product design process is usually the testing. The main objective of testing is to ensure that the product design works as intended. Running internal tests, also known as dogfooding (“Eating your own dog food”), and/or external guerrilla testing that involves gathering feedback from the general public are among the most popular testing tools among UX designers.
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