In part 1 of our exploration into what is user experience, we took a quick look at user experience. In part 2, we’re going to discuss how to ensure your digital product provides users with a pleasant and intuitive experience. We accomplish this by implementing a measurable, repeatable process. We’ll discuss two possible process implementations:
Get It All Figured Out First
The first method, sometimes called the “traditional” or “waterfall” model, is about as conventional as product design gets. It requires a lot of research on the front of the project, often requiring several rounds of design perfecting upfront. Ideally, the result of this iterating is a product that perfectly satisfies the business’s initial requirements. It attempts to get the design right at the beginning of the project in hopes of minimizing adjustments or pivots throughout the product’s lifecycle.
This approach works best when you have: a robust product plan, a relatively mature industry, and extensive knowledge about your user-base. With this approach, you will find that you can build a solid product that will stand the test of time (to the extent that any digital product truly can).
Waterfall UX tends to employ the following linear process:
Discover (requirements, personas, user stories, journeys)
Explore (information architecture, wireframes, interactive prototypes)
Design (styles, mock-ups)
Check (product suitability, errors)
Test (feedback, measure key performance indicators)
For some startups, concepts, or business models the waterfall approach can be cost prohibitive or unnecessarily lengthy or cumbersome. If there’s uncertainty about the market your product is filling or who your user-base might be, sometimes it’s better to be flexible and to test and verify that what you wanted to build is what users want. By checking assumptions up front via prototyping and user testing, you’re able to make changes early and often before investing significant capital in product development. When this is the case, the process behind Lean UX can be a great candidate. Why?
Lean UX sets its sights on first building and releasing into the world a minimally viable product. What this means is that you can get an authoritative version of your product out into the world that is well-built but without any potentially unnecessary bloat. You get feedback from real users and implement new features that you the know there is a demand for and make adjustments to what can be working better. The cycle here is build (the product), measure (success), and learn (how to improve). This ensures a product that is always improving and is never more than what it needs to be: exactly what the market wants.
UX is UX
At the end of the product cycle, neither approach discards the core principles of UX. You still want to give users good experiences while achieving your business strategy. The destination is still the same, but the roads to them are different. The waterfall approach focuses on structured preliminary research and, as the foundation of a building, it is sturdy, well-planned, and you can be sure what it is you will be building up front. However, when the product planning needs to shift due to a changing market climate or when there is uncertainty, the process can be slow and costly to adjust. Lean UX focuses on building only what you have to build and evolves continuously. This lack of a predefined destination isn’t for everyone or every business. No matter how you arrive at your solution, the goal of user experience is always the same: create delightful and intuitive experiences that your core audience (users) love to interact with. Have any questions or need help building your next application? Let Seamgen Know!