Often times when clients approach us for web and/or mobile application development projects, we get asked: “what is the difference between UX and UI design?” Part of the product and software development process is to make sure users will love your web or mobile application. This involves not only high-quality code but also User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design. Let’s start with defining what UX & UI is and then we will describe the process of UX & UI design in 6 stages.
The simplest way to defining UX and UI is: UX is the skeleton of your web or mobile application and UI is the skin with all the visual elements such as colour, form, sizing, etc. Of course, it does not stop here. To be a good designer is to be a well-rounded designer; to stay curious. (That’s another post altogether.) A good UX designer will have knowledge in many different areas encompassing different skills such as user research, visual design, information architecture, data analytics, writing, psychology, market research, branding, content strategy, library science - just to name a few! As UX is a fast-paced evolving industry, the skills of a designer will also evolve over time.
Take the iPod for example, what makes the iPod so great? Most people would tell you that it’s easy to use. The keyword here is ‘usability’. When you are designing a product such as the iPod, you need to ask yourself - what problems am I trying to solve for my users? What are the users wants and needs? What are the pain points for the user? What are they feeling when they use the product? What do they want to feel instead? What are key motivators for using the product? What types of users do I have? All these questions are part of a crucial step in the primary UX research process. Essentially we want to create and find a solution that aligns the users’ needs with your business goals.
UX involves user research which may include gathering and analyzing data, user interviews, user testing, user journey mapping, user flows, creating personas, wireframes, and prototyping.
It is important to note that the UX process involves different stages and steps but also takes on a trial and error approach. As we discuss the process you will see that the UX design process involves the designer or team to step back into different phases of the process where reiterations and revisions occur. This is the heart of UX design.
UI design is the step that follows once you have your UX mapping laid out. When you have a great user experience, you want an interface that will guide users through your application with ease. Great UI design can help your product shine and be memorable. A bad UI will create confusion or be distracting while your users are trying to complete a task.
Evenset works closely with clients throughout the product development process so that they are informed every step of the way regarding not only the UX/UI but also the technologies used (IoT, Machine Learning, Data Analytics), market research, design implementation, scalable code, frameworks, and etc.
User Research - As with any design project, understanding who and what you are designing for is key. It’s important to ask the right questions. This is where you will discover your users end goals, what they need and expect from your product, what pain points they are having. This is where you will begin to conduct interviews and/or send out questionnaires (for qualitative data). Often times these interviews can be conducted on-site in an office, or if applicable, in the environment where your users will be using your product, or even online.
Creating Personas - Personas allow your team to focus on the types of users you are creating the experience for. Personas are generally one page and contain the key details about your user. Now that you’ve gathered the data from your research, it is time to combine the data into groups of different personas. We aim for 2-3 personas depending on your project.
Illustrated example of a Persona:
User Journey Mapping - Now that you’ve determined and narrowed down your possible users, we will create a walk-through of their experience. This is where you will get into the mind of your user. This will help you understand what your users are feeling, thinking, and trying to do. It will also help you figure out their pain points. This can be a sketch or a more detailed composition.
User Flow - This is similar to Journey Mapping but is more focused on the technical aspects of UX. This can be a sketch, flow chart style, or if your project already has an existing product, it can show the steps involved for the user to complete a task.
Wireframes - In UX the earlier you can put together a prototype, the better. This will help you determine earlier on what will work or not work with your users. It is a state of trial and error. UX designers may find themselves hopping back and forth between stages 4, 5, and 6.
Prototyping - Prototypes can range from paper sketches (earlier on) to wireframes to a high fidelity mockups (nearing the end of the process). The purpose of prototyping is to test out the functionality and usability of the app. This is where you test out features, the location of buttons, the navigation menu, etc. Prepare to get feedback from your users and you may need to revise the user flow or visual elements.
User Testing - Lastly, once you have a prototype (at this stage your prototype should be much more than a sketch!) it is time to ask your users to test it by performing tasks. Take down notes and any observations and complaints from your user.
As with many projects and business goals, the requirements are different and so the UX process may differ as well. One of the top goals of UX designers is to create a seamless experience that integrates business objectives with user goals.
At Evenset, we love partnering up with companies that need our insight and expertise to help build and develop their web or mobile application. We have built numerous successful web and mobile applications thanks to our highly dedicated team of software developers, security specialists, and product designers.
Have an app idea? Give us a shout, we love to hear new ideas.
Evenset Inc. is a custom software development company in Toronto, Canada.
We are specialized in developing custom web and mobile application, implementing machine learning and big data solutions, applying new technologies to our clients specific requirements, with the highest code quality and fastest speed.