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What Are UХ Frameworks and How to Use Them?

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Just like a navigator shows you the shortest way bypassing traffic jams, UX frameworks lead you from a barely discernible idea to real-life results. Want to shortcut your way to success?

  • Outline which deliverable you’d like to get.
  • Choose one or more of eight proposed UX frameworks.
  • Build your design around the chosen one!

Let’s go!

What Are UX Frameworks

Long story short, these are kind of maps of the design process. They:

  • Determine the steps of creating designs.
  • Show a clear direction.
  • Make deliverables single-concept.
  • Help the design team reach a consensus.
  • Save designers’ time and effort.
  • Minimize misunderstanding.
  • Finally, they work!

Why Should Designers Use UX Frameworks

On top of that, they allow you to split the design process into baby steps. After all, it won’t seem so complex and long, as you have defined stages. Add some “meat” to this “skeleton” and that’s it! The design is ready, the users are happy, and you get a promotion at work.

Even if you’re not a newbie but an experienced designer, using frameworks may evoke a new wave of creativity. Looking at familiar things from a different angle opens up new horizons. 10 minutes will probably save 100+ hours later! So, we highly recommend everyone to read this article to the end.

10 Frameworks for Your Convenience

#1 — Design Thinking

First mentioned by a Nobel Prize laureate Herbert A. Simon in his 1969 book “The Sciences of the Artificial”, this approach is now widely used by designers. This method helps teams understand their users, redefine the pain points, test assumptions and come up with creative solutions.

5 Phases of Design Thinking:

  1. Empathize. Human-centered design is a must nowadays, as you create it for people who will use it.
    Answer the question: “Who are your users?”
  2. Define. Analyze your user personas and outline problem statements for them.
    Answer the questions: “What do these users need? What are their problems?”
  3. Ideate. Generate ideas on how you can help users solve problems. Brainstorm with your team, challenge assumptions together.
    Answer the question: “What will be the solution?”
  4. Prototype. Identify the most burning problems and work on them. Breath life into your ideas. Experiment with scaled-down yet functional versions of solutions. As for this stage, we suggest creating:
    - lo-fi prototypes for discussing designs with colleagues.
    - hi-fi prototypes for pre-testing them internally.
    - visual designs to test with real users.
  5. Test. Try how these solutions work with the help of focus groups or real users. Based on the results, you can either proceed with the prototype or redefine problems once again and return to previous stages. Conduct more tests until you find the most effective design.

Also, we need to highlight that there are legions of variations for this approach. Some companies add more sub-questions to the first point and recommend doing profound research:

  • What is the company’s mission? How does the project help it achieve its objectives?
  • What is the context for implementing this design?
  • What is the anticipated outcome of the project?
  • How are you going to measure results?
  • Are there some constraints? How can you deal with them?

#2 — 6 Levels of User Experience

This framework basically helps designers prioritize their workflow. It leads you from coming up with abstract ideas to implementing them in real life. You may utilize it like a to-do list for creating visual designs.


6 Levels of UX:

The Six Layers of User Experience
  1. Proposition. What value does the design/product/service have for users?
  2. Use case. What problems does your customer encounter? Which user’s goals are achieved by this design? 
  3. User journey. How will the customer go their way from point A to point B?
  4. Information. Do they need clarification or additional information? Don’t you give them too many details?
  5. Architecture. How will all this data be organized? Will it be simple to navigate through?
  6. Visual. Does everything look appealing and pleasant?

Note that if you skip one of these levels, your design will look good but won’t work. It’s crucial that you go through every step!

#3 — The Hierarchy of UX Needs

Have you ever seen Maslow’s pyramid of people’s needs? This one is very similar but focuses on the user experience. Created in 2001 for the convenience of web designers, it is now widely used as a framework for other design projects.


5 Elements (Starting from the Basic One):

  1. Availability. Any app, website or document has to be accessible. No one will evaluate your work if they can’t see it!
  2. Usability. Simple navigation, noticeable buttons, clear short texts and CTAs are must-haves. Check if your interface is consistent and easy to use.
  3. Supportive features. These may be quick start guides, notifications, live chats, reviews, FAQs, or anything that helps users to get the most of your product.
  4. Confidence. Users have to make sure your app or website is trustworthy. Misleading buttons and headlines or lack of a public offer and ToS may ruin this layer.
  5. Desirability. This is what makes the users’ first impression. Put all of the above items in a pretty eye-catching wrapper to attract attention!

Having these 5 points fulfilled in one place, you’ll win the audience’s hearts!

#4 — BASIC Framework

This framework for usable products was introduced recently, however, it’s totally worth your attention!

Key Elements of Great Design:

  1. Beauty. As in the previous framework, this one puts aesthetic attractiveness to the top. An appealing design is perceived as user-friendly by default (and you will have a chance to prove this later!).
    Questions to ask:
    - Does the design follow the style guide?
    - Are only high-quality images or videos used?
    - Are they properly aligned?
    - Is it looking good?
  2. Accessibility. Everyone should use your interface in full, even people with disabilities. Also, there shouldn’t be technical errors keeping users from using the design.
    Questions to ask:
    - Can everyone use the design?
    - Is it compatible with various platforms?
    - Does it comply with standards?
  3. Simplicity. Designs should simplify the user's life, not complicate it even more! On top of that, having too much of a choice keeps users from taking action.
    Questions to ask:
    - Does it help users to get things done faster?
    - Is it as brief as possible?
    - Is all its functionality necessary?
    - Can something be removed without harming the product?
  4. Intuitiveness. No one enjoys reading long manuals in the 21 century. Users prefer only short onboardings or product guides, that’s all!
    Questions to ask:
    - Are the product’s purpose and features clear?
    - Can users achieve results asap?
    - Can they predict outcomes even before using the product?
  5. Consistency. Everything should be consistent and predictable — navigation, forms, buttons, labels, action behaviors. In this way, you’re educating your users and building trust between them and the functionality.
    Questions to ask:
    - Is the product based on repetitive clear patterns?
    - Does it work the same way in any case?
    - Do you use the language, images, and branding that your user expects to see?

#5 — Double Diamond

This framework represents design and innovation in one place. It was proposed by linguist Béla H. Bánáthy in 1996 and was promoted by the British Design Council later. Each diamond contains a few principles to follow:

A visual representation of the Double Diamond framework which includes stages in discover, define, develop, and deliver

The First Diamond: Preparation

  • Discover. This is the point when you collect the pool of problems. Develop empathy, speak with real people, only then make assumptions.
  • Define. After you’ve discovered several issues, think of what exactly you will solve with the design.

The Second Diamond: Designing

  • Develop. Generate ideas, explore solutions, experiment together with the team. You may even create a few of them for every problem and test later.
  • Deliver. It’s time to test what you’ve developed. Iterate those that work and reject all the others.

This way, the challenge will be turned into an outcome! As you can see, all these stages are based on collaboration, creative approach, and improving results.

#6 — The UX Honeycomb

This framework might seem similar to the hierarchy of UX needs and BASIC. However, it has something unique as well! It depicts seven factors that make the user experience positive.

Honeycomb model of user experience

The Design Should Be:

  • Useful. People have to be motivated to use your product. What motivates them? Fulfilling their needs! If they see it’s possible, they will be likely to start interacting.
  • Desirable. In other words, it should be attractive and appealing.
  • Accessible. People with disabilities should be able to use the product. Also, there shouldn’t be critical mistakes keeping users from taking action.
  • Credible. In the era of information, we are very suspicious of everything. So, before using some product, we need to trust it.
  • Findable. Without simple and clear navigation, people will give up using your product after their fifth click.
  • Usable. This is not the synonym for the first point! This one means usability and intuitiveness.
  • Valuable. If your product delivers value to the customer or business, they will become loyal and come back for more.

By the way, this scheme can be used along with the Design thinking framework or others. You will only strengthen your outcomes.

#7 — Hooked Model

This UX framework is great when you are creating a product that targets creating a habit. It was developed by Nir Eyal, an entrepreneur who mentioned the concept in his book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.”

We believe that addictive products like Facebook, Slack, and What’s App are based on this one. People are just glued to them!

4 Elements of the Hooked Model:

Hooked model - User Experience Framework
  1. Internal or external triggers appear:
    - What emotions does your product or service evoke?
    - What features can solve users’ issues?
  2. They make users take action.
    - What should users do to get a reward?
    - What is the simplest action to get that bonus?
  3. Users get rewards (and want more). Rewards can be different — interesting information, news, likes, shares, just anything!
  4. They come back for more.

The key goal of UX design is to make users go through the loop again and again to influence their behavior. This loop can be repeated endlessly until there is a strong habit! And don’t say that you’re not a fan of scrolling the Facebook feed before bedtime. ;)

#8 — Behavior Model

This UX framework is based on common human behavior. It was introduced by a professor from Stanford University Brian Jeffrey Fogg. Users need sufficient motivation, ability, and a cause to perform actions. The formula is:

Behavior = Motivation (you want to do it) * Ability (you can do it) * Prompt (you do it now)

The author of this model says that ALL the elements must be in their places to achieve results. So, check if your design attracts the customer, shows them a choice of actions and a clear CTA to urge them to make a decision right here and now.

Summary

Have you already fallen in love with one or even more of these UX frameworks? It’s time to try them out in practice! So, here’s what to do:

  1. Open FlowMapp or another design tool of your choice.
  2. Pick up the most intriguing UX framework that you’re going to use.
  3. Check whether you can complement it with something else. For example, the Design thinking framework can be strengthened by the Hooked or Behavior models.
  4. Start researching and generating design ideas. Then do it within the framework you like.
  5. Don’t hesitate to test your designs with real users. All in all, you make all those creatives for them!
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