Designing a website requires an ample amount of skill if you want to get everything right. While the appearance of your website and the content you include on-site pages are essential towards increasing customer conversion rates, the UX design is arguably the most important factor that dictates how successful your website will be. UX stands for user experience, which means that any changes you make to the UX design of your website could potentially improve or worsen how users feel when browsing your website.
If you decide to focus on your website’s UX design, your goal should be to make the user’s experience as good as it can be. While search engine optimization and paid advertisements are important for bringing visitors to your website, the UX design can draw the user’s attention once they reach your website. If integrated properly, a UX design can get the user from the landing page to a product page in just a few clicks of a button.
When you’re designing the user experience that site visitors will have, it’s important to focus on the efficiency and ease of use that users will have as they enter your website. UX design is a core component of marketing and business goals. When looking specifically at marketing, a great UX design will invariably be appealing to site visitors, which serves to improve your brand reputation and bring in new customers via word of mouth.
As for your business goals, improving the experience that your users have should help you reach the business goals you’ve set in recent months or years. Since a well-liked UX design will improve your brand reputation, you should notice an uptick in customer conversion rates.
If users can reach your website and purchase the product they want without any hassle or frustration, there’s a good chance that they will continue using your website and potentially tell others about it. If you have customer conversion goals or sales goals, UX design can help you achieve these goals. This article offers an in-depth guide to the five distinct stages of the UX design process that you should adhere to.
1. Defining and Researching the Product
The initial step in the UX design process involves defining and researching the product. This research will dictate most of the decisions you make for the UX design. Try to identify the what, how, and why of product use. What involves the things users can do with the product you offer, which is the product’s functionality. The how pertains to designing the product’s functionality to be aesthetically pleasing and accessible.
The why of the product involves the motivations that people have for using your product. Once you ask these questions and define your product, you should have a great base for the UX design. When it comes to website design, your product is your website. By researching your website and understanding what its purpose is, you have the information you need to provide your main audience with an experience they’ll enjoy.
2. User Research
The product research you perform at the beginning of the UX design process won’t mean much if you don’t know anything about your target audience. As such, it’s essential that you focus on user research before you start changing your website’s UX design. The research you perform on users will tell you about their goals, needs, motivations, and behaviors. User research will also help you gain insight into how users currently navigate your website, what problems they typically encounter, and how they feel when using your website.
Even if you understand the best practices for UX design, it’s not enough to provide users with what you believe is the best experience for them. As you start work on your website’s UX design, try to think about the design from the user’s perspective. What kind of experience do these users want when they interact with your website? Once you can answer this question, you can go forward with the remainder of the UX design. Whether you’re designing an entirely new website or redesigning an old one, user research is key to developing a functional website that appeals to your primary audience.
There are several methods available to you when performing user research, the primary of which include interviews, online surveys, and user testing. User interviews are extensive one-on-one discussions that occur between a user from your core audience and an interviewer that represents your brand. You can conduct these interviews while users are navigating your website and using your product. The feedback you gain from this interview can influence future design decisions and help you build a website that your main audience will love.
The data you collect from these surveys can be collated and studied to enhance your UX design. As for user testing, this should typically occur after your website’s UX design has been completed. By having users test your product, you can identify the problem areas that need to be fixed before your website has officially launched.
The purpose of the analysis stage is to obtain insights from all of the data that was collected throughout the research stage. Before conducting research, all UX designers have assumptions over what the audience wants from the UX design. The research you perform can be used to determine if these assumptions were correct or if adjustments need to be made.
This aspect of the UX process involves three separate tasks, which include creating various user personas, making user stories, and storyboarding. User personas are essentially fictional characters that you can create to represent different types of users. While you develop the user experience for your website, you can reference the personas that you’ve made, which should reflect your primary audience.
When creating user stories, the purpose of this task is to better understand how a user would interact with your website. These stories are created from the site visitor’s point of view. As for storyboarding, this tool allows designers to combine the user stories with the user personas. You’ll be telling a story about how a user interacts with your website. This user will be based on one of the user personas that you’ve made.
Once you’ve conducted enough research and have drawn your conclusions, you should have everything you need to begin the design phase of the UX process. At this stage of the process, you and your team should have a comprehensive understanding of the wants and needs that your target audience has, which can guide you during the design stage. Throughout the design stage, different team members will need to perform different tasks. For instance, both the UI design and information architecture will need to be developed.
Information architecture is a process that’s centered around the labeling and organizing of website content. When information architecture is implemented correctly, users should be able to find relevant information and navigate to their desired page without issue. The information architecture will act as the skeleton for the entire UX design project. Keep in mind that team members must collaborate throughout the design process. This stage is also iterative, which means that different versions of the same design should be created until you develop the ideal UX design.
The design phase includes:
- Sketching – This is a simple way to visualize all of your ideas and can be done on a computer or piece of paper. Since sketches can be made in minutes, they are highly beneficial during lengthy brainstorming sessions with the entire team.
- Wireframes – A wireframe allows designers to properly visualize the structure of a web page. They are more detailed than simple sketches.
- Prototyping – When you develop a wireframe, you can better understand the appearance of your UX design. Prototypes are meant to display the appearance and functionality of the design.
- Design specification – A design specification contains the visual assets that are needed to convert a prototype into a fully realized website.
- Design systems – If you’re working on a large project, you may need to create a design system, which is a collection of styles, components, and patterns that the developers and designers share to ensure that everyone knows what to use when making the UX design.
The fifth and final stage of the UX design process involves testing, which is when you can identify if users will respond well to the design work that you’ve done. Also known as validation, the testing stage occurs only when a complete UX design has been made, which will allow you to obtain relevant and useful feedback from users. During this stage, extensive user tests should be performed with end-users and stakeholders.
Before you start testing your design with actual users, consider testing it with team members. With this approach, you should be able to detect any major issues before users test the website. The user testing sessions you administer can be held as focus groups, A/B tests, beta tests, or usability tests. Basic surveys can also help you obtain customer feedback.
Improving the UX Design Process
While the UX design process involves five straightforward stages, there are ways that you can improve this process. First, try to accept and embrace the iterative aspect of the design process. It’s nearly impossible to make all of the right design decisions on your first try. If you find that an element doesn’t work, conduct some more user research to identify a better and more effective solution. The end result of iteration is a user experience that you can be confident site visitors will enjoy.
It’s also important that you know how to properly communicate a fantastic design to users and stakeholders. You can do this by performing routine review sessions and by meeting with your stakeholders to make sure that each team member is satisfied with the design decisions that are being made.
One UX design doesn’t work for every website. If you want your website’s UX design to satisfy site visitors, it’s important that you conduct user research, iterate on your designs, and perform constant testing to ensure that the final product is the best one you can create.