Biz Tips: How Design & Development Create Effective UX

Biz Tips: How Design & Development Create Effective UX

Biz Tip:

How Design & Development Create Effective UX

collaborative design and developmentJust like in life, you only have one chance to make a good first impression on your website. 88% of users are less likely to return to a website if they have a negative user experience. How often have you been to a website and have found that completing simple tasks is needlessly complicated? It can be a frustrating experience and one that will make it less likely for you to return. That is why your online presence must be both usable and beautiful. A beautifully designed website will draw your users in, but a site with effective UX will keep them there and convert your users into customers.

What is UI/UX?

UI and UX are terms that tend to be used interchangeably, but they are very different. UI refers to User Interface design. It considers the look, feel, and interactivity of the product. UI design focuses on the visual experience on how a user navigates from point a to point b by scrolling, tapping, swiping, etc. It is all about ensuring that the user interface of a product is as intuitive as possible, and that means carefully considering each visual, interactive element the user might encounter.

UX design, on the other hand, refers to User Experience Design. It encompasses any interactions between a potential active customer and a company. It’s a human-first way of designing products, considering how a user interacts with a service or product. How straightforward is that experience? How quickly can the user complete their task? Is their experience smooth or clunky? UX design combines market research, strategy, and design to find out what the user wants in a specific context. By conducting face to face interviews, online questionnaires, observing users, and building personas – UX designers can map out user flows, create wireframes and prototypes that are then tested and iterated until the final design is ready.

A Typical Website Project Process

ux/ui process

In the traditional life-cycle of a website project, the client will typically go through a strategy/discovery phase, move on to design, where multiple iterations of the homepage and interior pages are created. Once those designs are approved, the project moves into development, where front-end developers turn the flat design into a functional website. It is a process that works fairly well but has some drawbacks. Once the design is handed off to a developer, they will move on to another project while the developer builds the site. If an issue is discovered with the UI, the designer has to switch gears and help solve the problem. It can lead to a clunky process with many starts and stops as communication travels between team members. Also, if there are delays in earlier phases of the project, that can lead to a time crunch for the developers as launch dates are usually inflexible. Instead of having time to focus on micro-interactions or subtle elements that can polish a site, the developer has to work on getting the site done and out the door for their client.

When Design and Development Work Together

integrating design and development

Collaboration is the name of the game. To create a highly effective UX you not only need to conduct research before beginning to create user journeys, but you also need to bring in your development team at a much earlier time in the project life-cycle.

At Ironistic, we try to avoid having lone wolves — we are all on the same team and have the same goals. It is highly beneficial to have differing viewpoints and other people who can brainstorm different solutions to the same problem. Experienced developers are invaluable when you are trying to ideate complex interactions. While wireframes and journeys are created, the developer can start testing interactions to make sure that they work and can help identify and adapt to any design that may be technically prohibitive. Complex interactions and experiences are challenging to prototype in a flat version, so being able to test throughout the process reduces risk and confidence in the design.

There are other benefits to design working in tandem with development. Developers are the ones whose fingers are on the pulse of new trends, technologies, and features. Using their knowledge, a UX designer will be much faster at reacting to data and iterating on features. Being able to predict a user’s needs before going into production can help reduce troubleshooting post-launch as well. Post-launch edits usually address incorrect assumptions regarding user behavior, overly complex navigation that results in users getting stuck, or elements that are not leading to conversions. Ensuring that these are addressed post-launch will save your team headaches down the road.

It may seem like the UX process is lengthy due to the amount of research, story-boarding, and iterations of wireframes, but in the end, it is a more efficient approach. Bringing in the development team to start building while wireframing and designing pages to test and build helps increase both our confidence and our client’s confidence in our design. Holding retrospectives is a great way to continue the collaborative process. Every project will have some hiccup; meeting as a group to have a post-launch retrospective helps isolate what worked and what did not in a non-confrontational manner. Each team member leaves with key takeaways to bring with them to the next project, and help us build on our successes.

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