Reviewing a cool shot on Dribbble or a top case on Behance, a novice designer who is not familiar with the delicacy of web development may think that in order to become a professional and create successful projects single-handedly, it will be enough just to learn how to make beautiful pictures, and make some nice animations ‘here’ and ‘there’. They think that these simple actions will provide them with high income, and all the media resources will be interested in their opinion.
Only a small number of people can estimate the real amount of work that they will have to do before creating their "first artboard" on a new project. This article is about the unappreciated work that usually remains behind the scenes.
The development of a good product begins with the research work, and the first task of any designer on a new project is observation.
Observation is an underestimated skill that is neglected by many newcomers with an impostor syndrome. The lack of time evaluation skills, customer pressure and a tendency to generalize — all this drives them into a conditional ‘black wigwam’. There, the disorientation leads them to chaotic actions and inconsistent decisions, and the result is usually frustrating. To avoid such cases, it is necessary to understand that the product is created for the user. Therefore, the designer is required to understand his target audience. This simple conclusion is the key to understanding the significance of the basic UX Research concept. The UX planning tool helps the designer to determine user behavior and prepare the most intuitive and responsive interface. Nevertheless, the user experience research methodology implies a high number of tools that need to be applied depending on the project and budget you have.
Interview is one of the basic tools that allows you to understand the user needs. The UX interview is based on the sociological research practice and is verified by time. The significance of the interview results depends on the question - it is directly proportional to the number of interviewees and the representativeness of the sample. Interviews can be divided into two groups: “moderated” (polls) and “unmoderated” (questionnaires).
A regular interview, with specific questions and answers to them. In order for it to be useful, it is necessary to interview as many users as possible. The main benefit is to compare the answers received.
An interview in which the interviewer usually does not use questions prepared in advance, or tries to minimize their number. In this kind of interview, the interviewer sets the abstract frame and listens to the interviewee. Here is an advice - when conducting this type of interview, use a voice recorder to be as involved in the story as possible.
This type of interview is defined as a contextual observation. One of the popular cases is the ‘Uber’ design team, whose specialists worked together with taxi drivers, consulting with their target audience and integrating the user experience into the development of the new interface.
Is often carried out in the framework of moderated testing. In this type of testing, the user is presented with a set of cards with terms that he must catalog according to his subjective representation of the hierarchy. In result, we can obtain relevant data on the understanding of the hierarchy by the user and use the information obtained when creating a Visual Sitemap.
A moderated testing, in which the top element of the Sitemap is provided to complete the task given to user. The user is asked to explain a particular action that he performs in the process of completing the task. Such testing allows you to check the logic of the site map hierarchy.
The most popular survey in the UX study. A/B testing is necessary if you have two competitive solutions. The reason of A/B testing is to randomly provide each option to a different number of users, the results of such testing can serve as proof of an assumption in a disputable situation.
One of the way to conduct testing on a free site, in a shopping center or cafe. Unconditional plus of such testing is minimal expenses. The downside is the minimal sample representativeness. For this reason, this methodology should be used for projects with a large user base.
A persona is a collective image of the user, which is formed by a set of researches. If you define a persona, you can control the expectations and needs of users, embodied in one fictitious profile. There are three key parameters of ‘persona’ - user description, environment description and tasks description.
User description – key parameters of the user, his gender, age, occupation, goals, and more personal information are indicated.
Environment description – territorial factor and context of use, this column contains the place and time at which the user interacts with the product.
Tasks description – the tasks that need to be solved by the user.
The main purpose of the ‘Persona’ tool is to get to know and see the image of target audience. Persona identification affects the decisions throughout the development path. The positive effect of the persona is often proved in situations where the Client provides data on the target audience and asks for new functionality to be developed, but when conducting a study and compiling a Persona Card it becomes clear that the Client’s target audience is not as was stated, and it is necessary to develop the exact opposite of which the Client requested at the beginning.
CJM is a way of determining the user needs at different stages of interaction with the product. CJM is formed on the basis of ‘Persona’ and allows you to think about the individual route of the user. By designing a CJM, you can determine the points at which the user will pick a product of your competitor instead of yours. CJM is presented in the form of a table in which the ‘Customer Goals’, ‘Channels’, and ‘User Flow’ are reflected.
Please, see the following article in order to learn more about User Flow:
"Barriers" and "Ideas". Filling each block at the corresponding stage of interaction with the product allows the designer to understand the user for whom he is designing it. When designing a CJM, it is important to maximize empathy at each stage of user interaction in order to try to understand his thoughts and emotions when interacting with the product. Nevertheless, the base on which CJM is built is the result of research of the target audience and the definition of a particular ‘Persona”. Otherwise, you can get an irrelevant user travel map.
A Visual Sitemap is a content navigation planning tool. Sitemap development requires an integrated approach. In order to be able to plan a valid map, it is necessary to conduct in-depth researches. When planning website navigation, the designer must see the product and its navigation hierarchy through the eyes of the user. This is the only way to create a Sitemap with the help of which there will be a possibility to correct the user's path in future, providing him with the necessary information as quickly as possible.
In addition to the research work carried out by the UX specialist, it is important to take into account the semantic core clustering data provided by the SEO specialist when designing a Sitemap. The preparation of the semantic core and the use of analytical data for a website design - are the main topics of this article.
The direct purpose of the UX research methodology for the designer is to ensure that the users’ needs are understood and implemented. It is the need for awareness of the target audience that the designer requires after he begins to explore the interface patterns more thoroughly. The questions ‘Why does this UI element have a similar shape? Color? Or why is it located in this place, not in that?’
The designer opens a huge world of UX, where every design decision is justified and supported by research. In the frame of this article, we gave a superficial definition of a small list of tools that needs to be integrated into the workflow at the very beginning of the path of website development.