UX / UI What now?
UX stands for 'User Experience'. In short, it's the feelgood factor you get when browsing a website or working on a well thought-out software product. It's the design behind the design. A UX specialist will focus on solving problems for the user.
UI stands for 'User Interaction' also known as Interaction Design. It is - as it says on the tin - the application of the interations and the design. The polishing, fine-tuning and the bringing to life. Think of it as the icing on the cake, and more. It's the icing, decoration and presentation as well. And because of the clever and thoughtful (UX) baking process, it feels free to stand out front and represent the entire cake because it knows it can rely on the total eating experience to do it proud.
The Internet is full of bad user experiences and this is not because of neglect or malice on the part of website owners, it's more to do the the nature of the medium, as constantly advancing technology can leave older websites behind, often way behind.
Enter the UX / UI ninja ...
A well conducted UX / UI process can help improve the performance of your website or app, new or existing. It is not set in stone and most phases overlap somewhat, but this is generally how it goes:
Research & Discovery
The process starts with a client workshop to discuss goals, establish 'must have' functionality and get an idea of your vision for the product. This is an important step and should include the whole team - designers, developers, project managers - and anyone else that will work on the project.
Research the end user group. I start by finding out what you already know about your customers' problems and goals so that I know what I need to validate through customer interviews. Also important is to check out the competition to find common patterns and best practices across your industry.
Persona & Scenario Creation
Armed with my research, I should be able to establish who will use the product, where, when and how they will use it. I then create a personification of the user, complete with name, photo, likes and dislikes. Keep this person (or people - there may be more than one) up-front and centre throughout the design and development prcoess to keep the whole team (client included) grounded and reminded that this product will be used by an actual human being.
Designing, Coding & Deployment
With wireframes as a base, we can fine-tune the design. As I mentioned above, the finished design is almost there by the prototyping stage, so the final design stage is mostly polishing and fine-tuning - working out transitions and micro-interactions. My favourite design tool is Sketch, but I'm also loving working with Adobe's latest creation which has - at last - been built for purpose; Adobe XD (Experience Design).
I work closely with the front-end developers on the team who will use my Invision protoypes to direct their work. To maintain a visual identity and consistency across designs, I develop a UX style guide with HTML / CSS examples that becomes the go-to place for front-end development resources so nothing gets lost in translation.
I always make sure to add some in-app feedback, such as Usabilla or Intercom, and analytics tracking, such as Google Analytics, code so that when the product has been released into the wild, it will be a lot easier to manage continual improvements with visibility into how users are getting on with your product.
Rinse and repeat.
If we want users to like our software we should design it to behave like a likeable person: respectful, generous and helpful.
- Alan Cooper