What is User Experience Design (to us)?

According to the OG of Usability, Dr Jakob Nielsen, “User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

User Experience (UX) Design looks at the Why, What and How of a product or service and its usage. The Why is all about the motivations and value. The What covers functionality and features. And the How deals with accessibility and aesthetics.

For us at Tenacity Works, UX Design is all about the quest for simplicity and elegance. Our goal is to identify and understand the issues that come between a user and a service and to smooth down those obstacles making the experience as natural and intuitive as possible.

Dr Nielson’s definition covers all aspects of user interaction with a company, and though we cover many aspects of that complete interaction through the services we offer, in this article we will be focussing on User Experience Design in the context of the User Interface or UI. Our UX focus is to ensure that the interfaces of digital products we create, be they websites or mobile apps, are functional, efficient and simple to use.

UX Design is an extremely broad discipline with a multitude of subspecialties. In this article, we will look at some of the questions we ask as part of a typical UX Design project within our practice. Hopefully, by sharing a sample of our enquiry-based process, you will get an idea of how we approach UX Design at Tenacity Works.

As with every piece of work we undertake, our UX Design projects begin with the customer…

Questions for client

  1. Who uses your product or service?
    What does a typical user look like? We typically look to create a series of personas to simulate a range of user profiles. Gathering user data from the client at this stage helps with the authenticity of our persona modelling.
  2. Why is this important to them?
    Understanding why a typical user cares about the product or service helps us to establish the level of engagement we can expect.
  3. How does it affect your business?
    Finding out how the product or service fits into the client’s business as a whole?
  4. How will we define success for this project?
    What are the measures for success? Are there obvious metrics we can use as a baseline? Does this business have KPIs that can be tied to the successful outcome of the project?
  5. Who are your competitors and how do you currently compare?
    Having an idea of products or services already operating in the same space is an incredibly useful starting point for any project we do. This is even more crucial when working with startups, developing a new product or service from the ground up with no competitive reference points is a real user experience challenge.

Next, we take a good look at the users themselves. Ideally, we do this by means of user testing the product or service before, during and after the UX Design process.

Questions for user

  1. What is your first reaction to the product or service?
    This is straight-up first reaction stuff. We capture general reactions to various aspects of the product or service.
  2. What are the pain points and how are they measured?
    What general issues are there? Is there anything about the product or service that is obviously jarring to the user? How would we go about establishing a baseline on which to fix or improve the issue?
  3. If you wanted to perform a specific task, what would you do?
    We use scripted, task-based interaction testing to observe both what users do and say. By studying completion rates and task time we can identify and address problems in the experience.
  4. Is this what you expected to happen?
    As the user navigates the product or service during the task-based interactions, we encourage discussion around expectations. Informal user feedback often helps identify quirks in the system behaviour
  5. Is there anything you would change/add/remove to make this better for you?
    Users suggestions during testing often result in new directions which our team would never have considered.
  6. Is anything missing?
    Sometimes the most glaringly obvious omissions are surfaced during the testing process.
  7. What would you pay for this product or service?
    This is always interesting. Understanding how end-users value your product or service early on in the development process can help shape the whole project.

Finally, these are a few of the questions we put to ourselves before, during and after the UX Design process.

Questions for us

  1. How might this be done better?
    There is always something that can be improved.
  2. How could this be simpler?
    What more can be removed? Are there unnecessary steps or actions that can be eliminated to increase simplicity?
  3. What assumptions are we making?
    Are we making assumptions based on our knowledge of the product or service which could prejudice the experience for an uninitiated user?
  4. Why is this a better solution than what was there before?
    Have we markedly improved the product or service? If so, how?
  5. Are we being as consistent as possible?
    If the product or service is part of an existing suite of offerings, does it fit in? Have we based our work around an existing design system and if so, have we applied it correctly?

Conclusion

If we follow our process and ask the right questions we usually arrive at a solution that addresses the problems we set out to solve. But how do we clearly define success? As designers, we really don’t want to be overly driven by metrics. However, the beauty of our enquiry-based process is that by revisiting the same set of questions before, during and after each project we can clearly quantify the impact of our work to measure and define success.

With many years of experience working on high-level User Experience projects for clients all over the world, Tenacity Works is perfectly placed to help you create or refine your digital product or service.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash.

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