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How to integrate UX Design at different stages of a product life-cycle

UX Design Approach: Learning the best UI & UX tactics will improve your digital product’s quality no matter the stage of development.

This article was written by Karol Wozniak, UX Designer at App’n’Roll.

All business successes, from startups to big corporations, depend on the satisfaction of their end users.

User experience (UX) is a relatively young discipline that sits at the intersection of technology, user needs and business goals.

UX Design approach – the key to digital success

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of small and big companies involving UX design tactics in their product development process.

Since the high technology world is so competitive, not considering the experience of end users would be a waste of money and time. 

What’s more, it is not simply about ensuring the high usability and accessibility of your website or product anymore. These days, an important task of design is to deliver desirable products that create a memorable, smooth experience and stand out from the competition.

Those who are more sceptical towards the potential of well-crafted experiences, might think that design is highly subjective and it’s not possible to measure its performance.

However, others who were not reluctant to try out what UX design is capable of, most likely welcomed some of the (mostly measurable) benefits for their companies or products, such as:

  • Sales increase,
  • User engagement, adoption and retention increase,
  • Time and money savings,
  • Higher brand loyalty and customers’ emotional bond to a company or a product,
  • Less resources spent on user support.

It is important to keep in mind that user experience can be beneficial for all types and sizes of companies, products (both digital and physical) and at all stages of a product’s lifecycle.

In the following sections of this article, I will mention how clients with different needs and at different stages of their products can benefit from UX design services.

Design of a product at the very early stages of its life cycle

Often, startup founders at the beginning of their journey only have a general idea for what their finished product will do, how it will work and who its for.

This initially vague image of the product might cause some serious consequences to the business later on.

Chances are: the team will, for example, try to cram too many features into their product or focus on addressing the needs of end users who are the least likely to use the product. 

Here, I’ve listed a few methods that UX design practitioners can use to help companies avoid mistakes at those early stages:

  • UX Research. This involves, for example, in-depth interviews, surveys, focus groups, field studies. The research is then followed by a data modeling process where designers generate personas, experience maps, user scenarios, etc. These practices can help companies get a better understanding of their user target audience and their problems. That way it will be easy to  address them in the finished product.

  • Client design workshop. As mentioned in my previous article, such workshops gather people from different departments. The confrontation of diverse perspectives stimulates discussion and creates a perfect environment for challenging existing ideas and brainstorming new ones. This, in turn, can help to align everyone’s vision of the project.

  • Competitive analysis. Analyse the competitors’ products in terms of user experience and look for possible areas of improvement. By doing so, stakeholders can make sure that their product won’t be a mere duplicate of an existing app. Instead, they will be able to gain a competitive edge in solving customers’ problems.

The role of UX design at the product design stage

ux design
Mapping out the information architecture and user flows is an important step in UX design process.

Once you know what your product will do and who it will serve (i.e. once its strategy has been established), the next step will be to actually deliver it to your users.

This is the stage where the entire product team collaborates to ensure the highest quality and best time to market the product.

Product teams tend to assume that the entire design can be done exclusively by a graphic or UI designer who specializes in delivering high quality, eye-pleasing interfaces. Sooner or later, those teams will realize that in order to deliver the best experience to their customers, visual design has to be supported by a great user experience design.

To help deliver the highest quality, the UX designers within your team can do the following:

  • Map out the information architecture and user flows.
    This involves creating a well thought-out structure, navigation and user flows (a path taken by a user to accomplish a task). By doing so, designers ensure that the product’s features and content are easy to navigate and find for end users.
  • Create wireframes.
    Wireframes form a skeleton of an app’s interface before any visual design is applied. Since they require a little bit less amount of time to produce (especially low-fidelity, sketch ones), they are a quick way for UX designers to convey their thoughts and ideas in the form of an interface. 
  • Create and test prototypes. Furthermore, wireframes can be turned into working prototypes that let designers test what they came up with before any UI design work is conducted. To set things straight: your company can be protected from spending time on pursuing the wrong ideas. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

Challenging the User Experience of existing digital products

ux team

Many times, businesses aim to launch their products as fast as possible since their main worry is the time to market.

As a consequence, they often take on a user experience debt, which, sooner or later, has to be paid. What this means is that the app might be useful, but lacks the convenience and enjoyment elements.

Users might try out an alternative solution from a competitor as a result of this and they might not ever come back. Fortunately, it is never too late to apply UX design to products that have skipped this part at its early stages. Here are examples of actions which you can take to improve the experience of your product:

  • Employ a design team exclusively for a UI facelift.
  • Sometimes, there is no need to go for an extensive, thorough UX transformation. According to aesthetic-usability effect, more visually appealing content makes products appear easier to use. Cleaner layout, better contrast or appropriate font sizes, for example, can make your website or product more user friendly already. 
  • Conduct a UX audit. If your company wants to take it further, conducting the product audit might be the way to go. By doing so, designers can advise you on any accessibility and usability issues of your website which might improve its conversion rates and other business metrics important to you. 
  • Use real life feedback and build new features. The good news is that, when you’re trying to improve user experience of an existing product, you can leverage the knowledge and data you had obtained in its performance. It can be easier to identify usability problems of a real, live product, even if it’s just an MVP. Thanks to conducting user testing on your product you can get some genuine, real-life feedback, which sometimes isn’t possible to obtain if you test on mock-ups. Also, you might receive some useful insights that will help you design further product features.

Summary

Whether you are launching a start-up, developing a product or questioning the performance of an existing one, it always seems beneficiary to involve UX design into your process. Usually, the earlier you bring a design specialist’s expertise to your project, the better. However, it’s never too late to take this step.

If your company or product is at one of the stages mentioned above and you think you could reap the benefits of integrating UX design into the process, drop us a line via hello@appnroll.com

Our design team is here to help!




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