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A Guide to UX Design Process

February 16, 2022

Market Research

Building a product is never easy, especially when you’re dealing with digital products or apps. While worth all the trouble, creating a successful mobile app or a web app involves a complicated and rigorous process. After all, there is really no one-size-fits-all approach to this. The process itself is circular (which means, it’s never really ‘done’). It’d always come down to company processes and the people involved in its inception.

No matter the variation in the process, however, there are still common stages that you are bound to encounter. These phases ensure that your own journey follows a logical structure; one that is articulate and good enough to yield successful products for your customers.

In this article, we’ve rounded some of the most common stages to give you an idea about how the UX Design Process truly works.

With no further ado, let’s dive in!

A Look Into User Experience (UX)


You can’t really talk about “User experience” or UX without mentioning cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman, the “godfather of UX” who coined the term during the 90s when he worked at Apple. He describes UX as “everything that touches upon your experience with a product”. Nowadays, the term is closely used in connection with product creation (especially digital, like apps or websites), but in its barest form, UX encompasses a whole lot more; it includes a user’s overall experience with a company, its services, as well as its products.

The process of UX design then is the act of designing products in a way that is usable and accessible to intended users, in order to generally improve user satisfaction. The logic is simple enough: if you design your product in a way that puts users’ needs on top of everything else, then you’d surely end up with an outcome that satisfies them—one that they’d have a greater chance of using again.

So what does it take to be a successful UX designer? We’d say it’s a combination of notable personality traits as well as skillset. And we’re talking about soft and hard skills. Below is a rundown of some of the most important traits a UX designer must have to create a successful user experience for their intended users:

  • empathy
  • problem-solving
  • communication
  • analytical
  • innovative
  • observation

For technical skills, we’d say focus on the following:

  • user research
  • information architecture
  • wireframing, prototyping, mockups, user flows
  • visual design
  • usability testing

It may seem like too much for one person to have, and yes, specialisation helps pin down exactly the people you need to do all these; people who know about something more than the others. What’s important then is having a team composed of members who, more or less, possess these skills.

And because the UX design process is intricate, these people and their specialisations must come together so you can provide efficient results. Basically, you need these people on board:

  • Project Manager
  • UX Researchers
  • Information Architects
  • Visual Designers
  • Usability Experts

Their skillset ensures that all of your audience’s needs are included in the development phase while also making sure that the goals of the company are also being met.

The UX Design Process

There are numerous ways to go about designing user experience, all of which produce various deliverables (personas, user flow, sitemaps, usability reports, etc.). The whole process is flexible and depends mostly on situations and teams spearheading the design. But amid the nuances, we can still pinpoint some major stages commonly followed by most designers.

The important thing to remember at this point is that the UX design process itself is iterative—it’s repetitive. And it involves a lot of testing and revising until you are finally satisfied with the end result. It is ongoing and many UX designers would even argue that it never really ends.

Here are some of the major stages commonly followed by most designers—from conception to delivery:


STAGE 1. Definition of the Problem.

Any product design endeavour must begin with the team spending time to understand the problem or what needs to be done, including understanding user pain points. Matthew Wakeman specifically says this in the book UX Research - Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products: “If I had only one hour to solve a problem, I would spend up to two-thirds of that hour in attempting to define what the problem is.” This basically says that when you understand the problem, you’re already halfway done with solving it. Because clarity is important during this stage, you must round the crucial people involved in the project for this—the stakeholders, the clients, the design team, product managers, etc. You need to ask everyone vital to the success of the project what they think needs to be done, so you could begin the well-intentioned project more purposefully. This is basically a guide so you can, at the very beginning, curtail the elements to what you need and what you don’t need and potentially save more time focusing on things that are going to be helpful to your design journey.


STAGE 2. Research.

Once you know what you’re trying to solve and have a basic idea of what to create, it’s time to hunker down and do your research. Research is the backbone of your project; doing this lets you unearth the foundation of your project and keep you from relying on baseless assumptions. We can’t stress this enough, but understanding the user’s needs would always be the most important component of every product design and development endeavour. So make sure to deliver on what their needs are. The research stage includes a lot of interviews—with stakeholders, the intended audience, and the team. Here we are able to see users and their profiles: who they are, where they’re from and how they can potentially benefit from the product. This is important so you could create the final product as close as possible to what they have envisioned. Other types of research are also executed during this stage, such as surveys, FGDs, competitor research, research on the latest product trends as well as existing user experience guidelines related to the product. It is also during this stage that you must create a user persona or a reference, so you could get an almost accurate and reliable representation of your intended users. Compared to regular buyer personas, user personas for product development and design are created with the intention of identifying major pain points and then providing a solution for them.


STAGE 3. Plan and Analyse.

Some design companies regard this as the first course of action to any design endeavour. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. In fact, we also recommend brainstorming with the whole team before starting anything so responsibilities are clear and anyone can do their tasks in a more purposeful manner. As a stage after research, the planning stage would include kicking off the project with the whole team. Here, everyone sits together to assess what the project needs and talk about anticipated issues that may derail the project down the line so they could create contingency plans for it. Everyone can also agree on key deliverables during the planning stage, so responsibilities don’t overlap and the process becomes more efficient for everyone involved. Analysis is also a huge part of this stage. During the analysis stage, everyone sits down to draw insights from the data collected from research and marry these with the team’s initial assumptions. With analysis comes the creation of user journey maps, scenario maps and sitemaps. All of these will eventually help put your team in your intended users’ shoes so you could experience the process and stages they will go through once they begin using your product. Basically, you need to create a scenario map for each user persona; a scenario map is like what it’s called—a possible route a specific user persona can take before they arrive at a goal. Doing this allows you to envision a user journey and plot the helpful ways to get your user closer to the goal.


STAGE 4. Design & Production.

Possibly the most complex part of any design process, the design and production stage involves a lot of mini-processes. Here, we begin exploring the designs and creating lo-fi (low fidelity) wireframes. This is also where creativity flourishes within the team. At this stage, the team can begin drawing sketches and wireframes, evaluate them and re-draw or re-design if needed. Images and other important assets are also discussed during this stage before designers can work on the final graphics and mockups. All of these can allow you to present the flow of information as you envision them to be displayed on the page. We’ve already said that the design process is iterative, but repetition is especially present during this part of the overall process. Here you design, redesign, scrap and design again until the final product—one you have before the final implementation—satisfies not only your audience’s needs but your company goals as well. Developers are also active during this stage, as they don’t just implement the design to the overall architecture, but also pinpoint technical issues that may arise from the design, if any. Then, implementation follows soon after. During the implementation of functionality, the developers build the hi-fi (high fidelity) version of the user interface.

(Here’s everything you need to know about the UI /UX Trends for this year.)


STAGE 5. Test & Launch.

User testing, beta launch and internal testing are next up. Here is where you get feedback before you release the product to the audience. The testing part of this stage helps the whole team understand whether their design works for their intended users. User testing will enable you to identify points for improvement and ask testers some questions based on various factors. You could also measure the ease of use of the initial version of the product, so you could see how well it can be received once out in the market. Testing before launch is important so you could hand the product off confidently.

(Check out our Tips for Effective A/B Testing)


STAGE 6. Post-Launch Analysis & Evaluation.

It is now time to ask yourselves some serious questions, including (but not limited to): How are our intended users responding to our product? Did we successfully resolve their issues? Is there anything more we can add or do to improve our product? Post-launch analysis involves evaluating the overall usability of the product, creating audit reports, identifying points for improvement, as well as addressing the issues that might’ve risen during the initial launch. This is basically where you look at your overall product so the team could observe what works and what doesn’t. Here is where you take note of possible add-ons for the next update and a time to zero-in on fixes you could work on in the future.

BONUS: Iterate!

As we said earlier in this article, the UX design process is highly iterative—meaning, it’s not as linear as you’d want it to be and would involve a lot of repetition and back and forth in order to make sure that your design (and ultimately the product) is able to meet the goals of your users.

While sharing common stages, a UX design process still varies depending on a lot of factors, including but not limited to: project type, client, budget, deadlines and the experience level of everyone involved.

The important thing to remember is that for it to be successful, you need to find the workable process for your team—even if it means entirely deviating from this list! Overall, just don’t forget the most crucial element of your project—the intended users. It’s always going to be about pinpointing the goals of the users and connecting these with the goals of the company. Always keep them and their needs the priority and watch everything fall into place.

Have a product in mind but not sure how best to begin? Drop us a line! Check out our projects and see how we put emphasis on research-driven creative work so we can help turn your projects into reality!

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