UX Design Techniques Every Designer Should Know

Nailing down the perfect UX design can be a monumental task. Different user bases have different needs and skill levels. What works for one may be a total flop for another. It is important that adequate research is done in order to ensure the design you come up with is a perfect match for your target audience.

With so many design techniques, it can be hard to choose what’s right for your situation and get to work! This copy will guide you on the best design techniques that help you create a user-friendly app.

First, you need to gather and analyze all information about the future product: owner’s and users’ expectations of the product, main user flows, and overall architecture of the app. Here are the most popular research techniques.

Stakeholders interviews

Stakeholders are the leaders, subordinates, peers, or customers either outside or within an organization that are likely to interact or be affected by your product’s use. Holding conversations with stakeholders offers you the opportunity to get an idea of how your users will likely use your product and can help to define what is important in order to improve key performance and to focus on key features.

Negotiate the date and time of the meeting in advance and create a list of questions. For instance, the list of questions may be as following:

a) Project vision:

  • What defines the success of your product?
  • Tell us your vision of the product.

b) Company:

  • What is the history of the company?
  • What are the goals of the company?
  • Whom do you consider as the main competitors?

c) Users:

  • Can you describe your target audience?
  • What are different types of your users?
  • Do you know the primary use context of the app?
User interviews

Similar to a stakeholder interview, a user interview is an effective research technique that allows you to get useful information from your current user base. By gaining a more thorough understanding of your users and how they will likely use your product, a feature-set can be nailed down and design can commence. It helps you figure out what needs to be fixed and what potential new features may need to be added later.

For an app in particular business niche, user interview is a good opportunity to get useful information about industry pain points that you can solve with your product. You can ask a professional background, their main objectives of using your app, and the most common issues they face an would like to solve.

And just like a stakeholder interview, a user interview needs a thoughtful preparation. First, choose people for interviews wisely. You can find users through social networks, community organizations, or social clubs.

After you’ve found people, clearly define the goal of your interview and prepare questions for it. Avoid leading questions like “Do you use Instagram?”.Instead ask “Tell me about your experience using Instagram”. Follow up questions foster fruitful discussions and can cover insights that you’ve forgotten to ask about.

Make interviewees comfortable and don’t annoy them with long interviews. During the interview, record all answers.

Relying only on this technique may become a reason why your project fails. There are several pitfalls to this technique:

  • Unfortunately, what people say isn’t always equal to what users do. Human memory isn’t perfect, so interviewees are unable to remember all the details of their experience of using a web or mobile app. When they are unable to remember this, sometimes they would rather make up stories instead of saying that they cannot recall it in their memory. Their stories may sound logical but don’t show the real situation.
  • Small groups cannot represent the whole audience. In most cases, there are only two or three groups with six to eight participants. Subjunctive opinions of the participants cannot represent the vision of the whole target audience.
  • Group leaders affect what is said while introverts don’t share their opinion much. Conducting researches online can be a good way to eliminate these two situations. Depending on research, you can form groups but speak with each participant one-by-one.
Task analysis

A task analysis is a study of what steps need to be taken to complete an operation or a task. You’ll be able to get an idea for how the current product works and in which ways the data it utilizes flows. It makes it easier for everyone to be able to prioritize what pieces of a product need to be worked on first.

This technique helps you understand the user’s goals they try to achieve in your app, steps they take to achieve that goal, and what problems they face while taking these steps.

There are two types of task analysis – hierarchical and cognitive. The algorithm of conducting a hierarchical task analysis is the following:

  1. Define one task you’re going to analyze. Choose the persona and a scenario to be analyzed. Define the desired outcome of this task and steps to be taken for achieving a goal.
  2. Break the task into several sub-tasks. But don’t go overboard and create too many abstract sub-tasks. In most cases, five to nine subtasks are enough.
  3. Create a diagram of each action a user takes.
  4. After you’ve created a diagram, write a detailed story on how user completes this subtask.
  5. Once your work is done, review your analysis. Give it on review to another specialist not involved in the analysis but knows the details of the task.

For instance,here’s the example of task analysis for purchasing a gaming mouse on Bestbuy.com.

UX Design Techniques

Cognitive task analysis involves taking the same steps. But in addition, you should analyze how this task will be completed by a novice and an expert.

Use-case or behavioral diagram

It is a visual representation of users’ behaviour. It shows what actions can be taken by different types of users. For instance, you should create a Greeting Card app. In the app, you have two types of users – Congratulator and Birthday Person. The Congratulator logs in via Facebook and chooses a Birthday Person from the list of their Facebook friends. After that, they choose the card from the list, write wishes and send to the Birthday Person.

After the Birthday Person has received the gift card, they can view it, like it or respond to it in the app. In case the Birthday Person hasn’t installed the app yet, they come to the app store and install the app. The behavioral diagram will look like this:

UX Design Techniques

User stories or behavioral specification

This is a written description of each interaction with your app. All user stories start with “As a user, I want to… ”, then you write a description of possible actions a user can take. For instance, “As a user, I want to view my order history, so that I visit a My orders tab and click on Order History button.

After creating user stories, you can start planning sprints and set a priority for each user case. It is also possible to define the time needed to implement the feature described in a user story. Also, you can start working on user flows.

User flow

This is a diagram that shows the common sequence of steps a user take in the app. This technique help UX designers to identify what steps can be redesigned or improved. Here’s the example of a user flow diagram.

UX Design Techniques

As you can see, each shape has a certain definition. Red arrow defines the pathway of a new user, while blue one defines the pathway of a registered user. Round means error and trapeze – user decision. In the same way, you should give a definition for each shape before creating a user flow.

Mind maps

While user flows are created to define the functions on each page in the app, mind maps allow designers to see the overall architecture of the product. It is the graphical representation of all parts of the app and their interrelations.

Creating a mind map won’t take a lot of time, and that’s one of the main advantages of this technique. You can easily find online tools for creating mind maps. With the help of this technique, you won’t waste time introducing and discussing features of the app.

For instance, here’s the mind map of a countdown app called My Day which you can find on Apple app store.

UX Design Techniques

Wireframes

After you’ve collected all the information and built architecture of your app, it’s time to design it! It’s recommended to start with wireframes, layouts of a web or mobile app that shows how the elements will be placed on a certain page.

Wireframing helps you get clients on board with design processes and make changes more effectively. Hence, this technique can save your time – it’s much easier to make changes in wireframes rather than change something when the design is done. In case you have a copywriter who designs content for your app, they can gauge the length of the content on each page.

On the other hand, it’s another step in the app development which also requires time and efforts. Also, wireframes can be considered as a limitation for designers. They must adhere to this skeleton, so leave creativity behinds.

You can draw wireframes on the paper or use special tools for that. Below, you can see an example of the wireframe created for a fitness center platform.

UX Design Techniques

Prototypes

A prototype is a simulation of a web or mobile app features and navigation which allows you to interact with your app before the app design is passed to coders. With the help of prototyping services like invisionapp.com or mockup.io, you can upload your wireframes or mockups and get an app with clickable buttons.

Usability testing

The next step you shouldn’t neglect is testing your app. Usability testing is where you watch users as they interact with your product in order to pinpoint faults or potential areas of improvement within your product. Usability testing can be generalized to the whole product or may be honed in on just 1 single task or process of your product depending on your needs. You can read a separate article about website usability testing.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a technique where different versions of a product are offered to users in order to compare the reception and ease of use between the 2 platforms. It helps you test out small design tweaks and features in order to see if they’re working as designed. For instance, there’s an A/B test conducted for Runkeeper app.

UX Design Techniques

Eye movement tracking

Utilizing eye movement tracking, you can get a feel for how your UX layout flows and how your users navigate the interface. This technique helps you optimize the look and feel of a user interface and can help you narrow down and prioritize features and content that needs to be improved or even removed.

Conclusion

Coming up with a new design or layout for a product may be intimidating at times but by utilizing some of the above-outlined techniques it can be made much easier! Give a few of these a try next time and you’ll likely find the design and development process moves along at a much better pace and your users will likely end up with a much better product as a result!

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