UX Design Process – An Actionable 7-Step Guide
UX design process is systematic, iterative, and structured series of actions that is necessary for designing a product’s user experience. It helps teams to follow easy-to-replicate protocols to deliver products while meeting the organization’s quality standards.
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What is UX Design?
UX design (user experience design) is a digital product design methodology to solve a human problem. This human-centered design approach ensures design teams make decisions based on users’ needs rather than assumptions.
What is a UX Design Process?
A UX design process is an iterative step-by-step methodology UX design teams use to complete projects. It is derivative from a design thinking process. As in design thinking process, UX designers spend time empathizing with the user, learning about the business, context, defining problem scope.
UX Design Process vs. Design Thinking Process
The design thinking process is a five-step process for developing user-centered solutions to human problems. A UX design process is a multi-stage, end-to-end methodology that incorporates design thinking for delivering UX projects.
While companies base their UX design process on design thinking principles, the steps and methods might differ slightly.
Importance of a UX Design Process
Here are some reasons why companies standardize a UX design process:
- Ensures projects meet quality and consistency standards
- Ensures designers design solutions without bias and assumptions
- Enables designers to test and iterate on many ideas to find the best solution
- Promotes collaboration between teams and departments
- Reduces the risk of rework by following set protocols
- Allows stakeholders to track a project’s progress
- Identifies hidden risks and opportunities
7 Steps of UX Design Process
A typical UX design process has 8 UX design process steps, from defining the product’s goal to design handoff and making sure everything works as intended.
Step 1: Define project & scope
The first step of a UX design process defines the project’s goal and scope with team members and stakeholders from multiple departments–usually consisting of representatives from:
- Business – explains business requirements and goals for the project.
- Design – communicate what they need to do prior to design and manage expectations.
- Product – shares context, help plan the timeline and resources needed for design.
- Technical – define feasibility and technical constraints of a UX design.
This early design phase aims to identify the problem the new product or feature must solve. The product team will also outline the project’s scope, plan, deliverables, and delivery date.
Step 2: Run research
Next, designers research the problem to find possible solutions. During the research phase, UX designers conduct several types of research, including:
- User research: Studies the target user to understand who they are, what they need, and what context they operate; the outcome of this research are user personas, journey maps, and so on.
- Market research: Analyzes the market to determine market segmentation and product differentiation.
- Competitive research: A competitive analysis to understand how competitors solve similar problems and identify opportunities.
- Product research: Analyzing insights and analytics from an existing product to understand user behavior.
Step 3: Create rough draft of a solution
With a clear understanding of their users, market, and competitive landscape, designers can create a rough draft of what a solution would look like, which is often referred to as the ideation phase. Designers use paper and pen during early ideation to iterate on many ideas fast.
Some of these low-fidelity techniques include:
- Sketching: Hand-drawn sketches of user interfaces
- Paper prototyping: Paper versions of a prototype
- Wireframing: Digital versions of paper prototypes featuring basic lines and shapes
- Low-fidelity prototypes: Digital prototypes using wireframes to test user flows and information architecture
The team might also use a design sprint to solve a specific problem fast.
Step 4: Design high-fidelity mockups and prototypes
Next, the UI design team converts wireframes into mockups to build high-fidelity prototypes that look and function like the final product. If the company has a design system, designers will use the UI component library to build interactive prototypes.
Step 5: Conduct usability testing
The primary purpose of high-fidelity prototypes is usability testing. UX designers test these prototypes with real users to:
- Validate ideas
- Identify usability issues
- Test accessibility
It’s important to note that even though user testing is the fifth stage, design teams conduct multiple tests throughout the UX design process to validate ideas and hypotheses. These tests include internal testing with team members or sharing ideas and prototypes with stakeholders for feedback.
Step 6: Perform design Handoff
Although the design handoff is near the end of the UX process, designers and engineers start collaborating during ideation to streamline the transition from design to development while ensuring designs meet technical constraints. Their collaboration is facilitated through different tools that make communication easier.
Step 7: Launch your product
The final stage of the UX design process is a launch and a clear inspection of the new release. It’s time to ensure that the new release meets the project’s business goals, user experience, and accessibility requirements.
Best Practices for a Great UX Design Process
While the UX design process might not be the same for all organizations, projects, or teams, there are some best practices designers can follow to streamline the process.
Apply User-Centric Thinking
Designers must keep end-users at the center of design decisions to ensure designs meet users’ needs. This human-centered mindset delivers products that users want while reducing costs on irrelevant UI components and features.
One of the ways to maintain a user-centered mindset is by empathizing with users. As designers progress through the UX design process, they can drift from focusing on users to designing features that look great but don’t serve a specific user need.
By practicing empathy throughout the UX design process, designers stay focused on solving users’ pain points.
Build a Design System
Design systems can significantly reduce time to market while enhancing consistency and coherency across the organization. If you can’t afford to build a design system from scratch, consider using a themeable open-source component library like MUI or Bootstrap.
Take prototyping to the next level using UXPin Merge–a tool that connects UXPin’s design editor to a component library, so designers can build fully functioning prototypes their dev’s components.
Communicate and Collaborate with Devs
Communication and collaboration are vital for a successful UX design process. Designers must connect with other design teams and open communication with engineers, business managers, product teams, and stakeholders.
DesignOps can help facilitate better communication and collaboration while streamlining other time-consuming operational and administrative tasks.
Enhancing the UX Design Process With UXPin
A successful UX process relies on tools that allow design teams to make changes and iterate fast. UXPin is an end-to-end design solution, providing designers with features for every stage of the UX design process.
Fully Interactive Prototypes
Designers can use one of UXPin’s built-in design libraries or import their dev’s component library to start prototyping immediately. Because UXPin is code-based, prototypes feature higher fidelity and more functionality than image-based design tools.
Quality User Testing
With code-based prototypes, UX designers can conduct accurate, more comprehensive tests. Better quality testing means fewer errors and usability issues make it into the final product.
Insightful Stakeholder Feedback
Stakeholder feedback is crucial during the UX design process. If prototypes aren’t intuitive, stakeholders battle to understand design concepts that could impact buy-in and funding.
Whether you’re using UXPin, prototypes have significantly higher fidelity and interactivity than other popular design tools. In turn, designers enjoy meaningful, actionable feedback from stakeholders.
Level up Your UX Design Process
UXPin Merge allows designers to get better results during testing while streamlining the design handoff, thus reducing time to market and costs.
Instead of designing from scratch, designers drag and drop components to build fully functioning code-based prototypes that look and work like the final product. Discover UXPin Merge.