What makes digital products good - The UX process

Explore the journey of UX design, focusing on the essence of good digital products. Learn the design thinking framework to create user-centered solutions that truly meet the needs of users.

Explore the journey of UX design, focusing on the essence of good digital products. Learn the design thinking framework to create user-centered solutions that truly meet the needs of users.

UX Research

Maria Correa

24 avr. 2024

Before talking about good UX products, let’s start with a little bit of history. If you didn’t know before, the journey into UX began in earnest with pioneers like Don Norman, who, during his tenure at Apple in the '90s, first coined the term "UX."

Norman's realization that personal computers of the era suffered from poor user experiences led to the creation of a specialized team aimed at enhancing how users interact with Apple's products. This focus on UX laid the groundwork for what would become a fundamental aspect of digital product design: the design system.

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences” Don Norman

The essence of good digital products

The importance of a comprehensive approach to design that goes beyond the superficial aspects of a product is the entire user experience. To do this, it is necessary to start with the design thinking framework that here we are going to explain.

1. Empathize: Understanding your users

The first stage of design thinking is all about gaining an empathetic understanding of the problem you're trying to solve, primarily from the perspective of those experiencing the issue.

Example: When designing a new mobile banking app, the design team starts by observing and interviewing a diverse group of potential users. This helps them understand the common pain points, such as the need for a more straightforward navigation system or enhanced security features.

Tools:

  • User Interviews: Direct conversations to uncover needs, desires, and pain points.

  • Surveys: Gathering information from individuals. This information is collected through the use of standardized procedures so that every participant is asked the same questions in the same way.

  • Observation: Watching how users interact with current solutions or products in their natural environment.

  • Personas: Creating detailed profiles of ideal users based on research to guide design decisions.

2. Define: Framing the problem

In the Define stage, designers collect all their observations and articulate the users' needs and problems. This stage clarifies the problem statement, which guides the rest of the project.

Example: After empathizing with users, the team might define the problem as, "Young professionals need a more intuitive way to manage their finances on the go because they find current banking apps overcrowded and intimidating."

Tools:

  • Affinity Diagrams: Organizing observations and insights into themes and patterns.

  • Problem Statement: A clear, concise statement of the users' needs and the challenges to overcome.

  • How Might We (HMW) Questions: Transforming problems into opportunities for design.

3. Ideate: Generating a range of ideas

With a solid understanding of the users and their needs, the Ideate stage is where creativity happens. The team generates a broad set of ideas without judgment to explore possible solutions.

Example: For the mobile banking app, the ideation session might produce ideas ranging from a customizable dashboard for easy access to frequently used features, to a built-in financial literacy tool that offers tips based on spending habits.

Tools:

  • Brainstorming: Rapid generation of ideas in a group setting, encouraging free-flowing, creative thought.

  • Mind Mapping: Visualizing relationships between different ideas and themes.

  • Sketching: Quick, informal drawing to visualize ideas and concepts.

4. Prototype: Turning ideas into tangible solutions

Prototyping involves creating scaled-down versions of the product to investigate the ideas generated in the previous stage. This step is crucial for identifying the best solution for each problem identified during the Define stage.

Example: The design team develops a low-fidelity prototype of the mobile banking app, focusing on the customizable dashboard feature. This prototype is used to explore the concept's feasibility without investing in full-scale development.

Tools:

  • Paper Prototypes: Simple and inexpensive mock-ups of ideas to facilitate quick feedback.

  • Digital Prototyping Tools: Software like Figma, allowing for more detailed and interactive prototypes.

  • User Flow Diagrams: Diagrams that outline the path users would take through the app to complete specific tasks.

5. Test: Refining the solution

Finally, the Test stage involves trying out the prototypes with real users. Feedback gathered during this phase is used to redefine problems and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize. Even at this stage, alterations and refinements are made in order to rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the product and its users as possible.

Example: The prototype of the mobile banking app is tested with a group of users fitting the personas developed in the Empathize stage. Observations and feedback are collected on usability, intuitiveness, and overall satisfaction.

Tools:

  • Usability Testing: Observing users as they interact with the prototype to identify friction points and areas for improvement.

  • Feedback Sessions: Structured discussions with users after testing to gather deeper insights.

  • A/B Testing: Comparing two versions of the prototype to see which performs better on specific tasks.

Conclusion

Each stage of the design thinking process ensure that digital products truly meet the needs and expectations of users. By employing a variety of tools and methods throughout these stages, design teams can foster creativity, innovation, and empathy, leading to solutions that are desirable to users.

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