Business of design is quite a massive subject and WordPress community is not far from the idea of design, nor its creative ways of bringing innovations and bright ideas to the field.
In this article I am going to concentrate on the subject of the idea of UX design. We will discover rudimentary, yet prime aspects of UX design that every developer, graphic, digital or visual designer as well as project managers and marketing specialists shall take into consideration when creating a new product. In our case this will be a WordPress plugin, theme or any corporate item related to those or the end brand. We will cover more sophisticated and advanced theories from Massimo Vignelli or Steven Heller in one of upcoming articles, yet today, let us figure out what UX stands for and what are the main points that bring UX designed product to the top of the pops.
What exactly user experience design stands for?
In a word, UX design would be the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving overall usability of a product that a company offers. Whether this is a film, art, digital effect, an online product, mobile app or a software. You have to include accessibility, timing and pleasure factors during the interaction between the user and an actual product.
UX describes the collection of activities, experiences for users. Starting from research and usability factors the UX team then moves to functionality, visual design, information architecture, integration design, content strategy, user interface, typography, graphics and development. It is important to understand the difference between UI and UX design too. This is something we will speak in more details in the future blog posts, but in a word let me explain that UI stands for User Interface and includes the visual design of a product, where UX goes deeper and has way more points to work around.
The goal of UX is to liaise and communicate with interface of the product and the end client more clearly about the target and purposes of the product. You would like to identify who the customer is and move more people to the final idea of your artefact; help actual customers to discover UX benefits in terms of financial aspects too.
Common problem of UX
A common problem when designers and developers face is the fact that they are trying to concentrate on details more often, let it be functionality, options and additional advantages of a product. But the problem is that UX design shall come first in this regards. Why? Because your user can either buy or download the product that appears with a massive and competitive list of features and functionality, but overall experience may leave a negative encounter. This surely will move any user for the search of other solutions. Let me bring an actual example. I have been looking for WordPress Slider plugin recently. The search on WordPress.org brought couple of sliders on top results, some of them had major demo pages and massive descriptions with huge portfolios of functionality, but at the end after testing out 4 slider plugins I ended up with the most humble one. This guy did not have a massive dictionary of functionalities, but was capable to add a simple slider on a post or page, the back end of the plugin was clear with stunning and modern graphical user interface design and more importantly helped me to create a slider in couple of minutes. Basically what I was looking for, where the more complex ones did not allow me due to complicated back end functionality and options allow me to find the triggers I was looking for, nor they were user-friendly.
UX Vision And Process
First things first: UX focuses mainly on structure/layout and navigation. These are the so-called “Wireframes” – a company or business graphic guide for a product structure, layout and navigation. It normally includes series of images associated with a product. Wireframes help to evolve with the team with more focus and interaction. A lot of professional UX designers will include in their portfolios productive and successful templates and ideas of wireframes.
Navigation structure follows content flow – this simple idea expresses the idea of the most complex, yet important goals of UX. Navigation and structure of your product can decide whether your product will or will not be used in the community or by potential customer. A navigation of a website, actual program or a product is a collection of user interface components. The primary goal of navigation is to help users find information and functionality the product is aimed to bring. Move users to encourage and take desirable actions. For example, if speaking about web navigation, you’d want to have in mind that its navigation components include global navigation settings, as well as local navigation, utility navigation, breadcrumbs, different filters and facets, related links, footers, fat footers, and so on.
Any content will include variety of shapes and forms. You’d like to make sure that the structure of your product helps users to navigate and interact with it easily, whether it is positioning, links, labels, colors. They all should match and work together.
With navigation support content you don’t want to miss the overall structure of your product. Whether it is a new thing in the field or more complex and advanced, have in mind couple of suggestions: a) your final product must help people to look on it and understand what is included on it, how and where to use it. b) the structure of your product must dictate and help users to interact with the product from the beginning. c) create connections between related content and users. Different fields offer different solutions for that. But before launching any product, have in mind the fact that users shall see YOU in the product and can easily connect or contact with the person behind it.
Having this in mind these suggestions, go through other rather minor points of UX design. For example, you don’t want to miss issues with typography and clarity of color and layout. Besides the fact that typography has become more customized to match the brand-image in every industry, you would like to have in mind and overall test the interaction of your end users with fonts and typography that they come between with. Consider the style, image, mood of your typography; as well as the gender, age of your clients and users.
4 Fundamental UX Design Processes
UX vision and process involves some fundamental steps that every business shall follow. These are the most common processes in UX design.
“You can’t design experiences, but you can design for them!”, This quote belongs to Dan Makoski – The VP of Design at CapitalOne and he can not be more right in this regards.
Your end-user or the client is the most important participant of the collaboration and interaction with your product. Like a puzzle without which you will never construct a perfect picture, you will want to interact with your customers before launching the end-product. There are various ways and methods to test, gather statistics and opinions from customers before launching an actual product, but the most simple and productive option will be to create a “User Testing” platform. The rules are simple: a group of users will sit in front of your product that is in the process of development or at its final line before being launched. They answer your questions by giving them a chance to think out loud, make notes, give feedback and more. In this regards, it is a must-read research that was published on March 30, 2016, called WordPress.org UX Research that belongs to Hugo Baeta, who is the “Interaction Design & Art Direction” for WordPress.com
In his massive research he had a chance to interview members of WordPress.org community anonymously and built a 15 section article with a total of 55 questions that will help to understand the interactions of users and developers with WordPress.org, their understanding of it, the aspects that need to be improved and so on.
This is very similar to A/B testing, which is also known as “split testing”. A/B testing is an comparison of two versions of an online product with a goal to identify the winner. You compare two products by showing the two variants to similar group of users at the same time. The one that gives a better conversion rate, feedback, wins!
Have also in mind the fact that you need to know the identity that reflects one of the user groups for whom you are designing in the best way possible.
About 70% of users leave the website because of poorly designed UX, where 85% of UX problems can be solved by testing with 5 users. Recent report published in 2015 claims that 44% of online shoppers will tell about their bad experience online to their friends and the community.
This was my personal sample of the hundreds of techniques that UX designers have available to them to ensure they get the right design—and the design right. There is way more beyond UX that can be learned and experienced, yet the mentioned in this article methods shall help anyone to succeed in the creation of their product.
Paying attention to the concept of UX is going to be vital as we move forward. In the future blog posts we will discuss UX design case-by-case.