How to make every moment a great experience
Product design is the art of balancing business goals, user needs and having a creative approach to ensure that a product is enhancing the lives of others. As a designer, I believe that unless you are placing the needs of your users as a priority then having a product that looks beautiful is merely a distraction. A beautiful interface will gain immediate attention and kudos on the surface but it does not guarantee that your product is sustainable and will be impactful. One can not simply out beautify bad UX.
Regardless of workflow methodology, in order to have a product that will be successful with your users while meeting target goals, a user centered design approach is needed.
Here are the key factors and my process that I believe can ensure that your product is headed in the right direction:
UX Strategy and business goals go hand in hand. Creating a strategy calls for taking inventory on the past experiences users have had and the current experiences they are having to create a game plan for their future experiences as they evolve. It aids in setting the direction of the solution that will be used to meet the needs of others. It establishes the overall vision and context for the product while making sure the stakeholders and designer are on the same page.
Discovery and User Research
When creating a product, the biggest mistake that you can make is releasing it without having any feedback from your target users. The last thing you want is to have wasted efforts of building code, only to realize that your product completely missed the mark. Feedback from users, team members and others is crucial. It educates us on any possible oversights that we may have. Conducting user interviews, card sorting exercises, user observations (remotely and in house), heuristic evaluations and A/B testing allows for any assumptions that are made about user behavior to be validated. Discovery allows for me to gain a better understanding of who your users are, how they will use your product, their previous experiences with similar products (so that we can avoid causing the issues they may have ran into), and iterate any design decision without hassle.
Work flow and Ideation
Difficult navigation and a confusing workflow can make or break a product. Creating journey maps, site maps for navigation and establishing the workflow makes it easier to know what screens will be needed while making the ideation process much more simple. When it comes to ideation, wireframes are the blueprint of the product. It allows for me to determine the best layout for your product that will make it accessible to your users and maintain it's usability easily.
Mock ups and Prototyping
Mock ups and prototypes bring a design idea into reality. While wireframes are a blueprint, mock ups are the polished version of the design. The color schemes, typography, and details have been added. I use mock ups to create an interactive prototype through InVision or code. This is my favorite part of the design process because it allows you to receive user insight that may not have arisen from previous testing sessions, validate that the design is meeting needs and gives the stakeholders a finalized view of their product.