Why do we need UX design: a human-centered design framework

Is UX design something fashionable or is it a concept of creative problem-solving? Is it just a trend or standard of work for nowadays? What is UX for? And why do we need user experience?

When we want to share with you a useful information that can increase a profit in your business or even save your holistic idea through the implementation process, we can not bypass UX design. Actually, all of our knowledge is based on User Experience. Okay, in general — every important step of human civilization was done because of User Experience. And every fall was done because of ignoring User Experience. Oh, Gosh! That`s true! Nowadays it is not enough to have a good product. You should have the best product for your particular customer. What is this human-centered approach? Is there a danger to spoil a customer? No. We need to use human-centered approach because of a noise of the market. If we want to be visible and heard for our customer — we should know what exactly is valuable and comfortable for our user. If we want our user to be happy using our product we should know the full path of a customer while he or she is using a product. The greatest expert in design, usability engineering and cognitive science Don Norman said about UX: it`s everything that touches upon your experience with the product. User Experience is an opportunity to discover not only your user, but also it gives you a better insight of your business and your product. Good UX must solve tasks of the people and business. So in this chapter, we will find answers to questions:

  • What is UX?
  • Why is the presence of UX important in life cycle product development?
  • How can UX assess risks and reduce costs?
  • How can UX be used to improve KPI and optimize business processes?
  • What is HCD framework and how it can be used?

UX and multidisciplinary

Don Norman invented a term “UX” because he thought that “usability” and “user interface” terms are too narrow.

I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. (1)

In general user experience is a person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service;

The user experience in the process involves a variety of disciplines. It's even hard to believe that one person can be so well educated and so intelligent to all of those topics. It should be really kind of encyclopedic mind with a high emotional intellect. We will show you disciplines that UX designer is facing with: cognitive psychology, neuromarketing, business analysis, visual communication, information architecture, interaction design, UX evaluation, graphic and type design, ergonomics, semantic, semiotic, philosophy, value theory and ethics, econometrics, consumer behavior, data management, and sociology

So as you see UX designer is not just a graphic designer that has some brain and knows how to use it. For being UX designer it is not enough make a clickable prototype with axure. Nope! One should be really an enthusiastic person, that is ready to explore such difficulties like behavior, patterns of acting, the way of thinking. For better understanding of an User Experience process we offer you a list of responsibilities that a user experience designer may have while launching a project.


UX responsibilities

There are three main stages in the workflow of UX designer: research, prototyping, and testing. But each of it has a lot of steps.

When the project is just a conception and team is able to accept information for future implementation, UX designer makes ethnographic research of users, surveying, focus group administration, non-directed and contextual interviewing, mental modeling, card sorting, mood boards, competitive analysis and contextual inquiry.

When that stage of research is finished it is time for heuristic analysis, expert evaluating, creating persona and scenario, system mapping and prototyping and usability testing. And when a project seems to be finished UX designer is making A/B testing and additional wireframing as a result of test and fine-tuning.

UX in full cycle product development

The UX designer constantly reminds his team of end-user. Very often, developers forget about the real world, which the user faces everyday far before they buy or use the product. The presence of a designer's yoke in a team is like the presence of the user himself, the ability to tailor the service to his specific needs and solve his specific problems.

How can UX assess risks and reduce costs?

User Experience can give you a possibility to assess risks but what kind of and how? There are too many risks that are possible in a project, but the lack of executive support and stakeholders agreements usually are on the top of them all. (2) Also, issues with the scope and fails in integration process happen so often. And the best thing in UX design is that you can really assess a lot of them because of research and analysis, prototyping and testing. User Acceptance of a product or service — that is what matters so much, right? So, UX design is checking this one. Also, UX gives you a chance to save money that you want to to spend for the unuseful or unneeded feature. There`s a so-called `Worse is Better` philosophy - it means people can prefer a product that seems worse to professionals because of lack of features and complexity. (3) But this is a reality — users want product to be simple and useful, that`s all.

And if we want our users to be happy we should take care and at least do not hurt them. For example, there is a lot of stuff that you want to put into your site. But not all of it can bring you a good conversion. Or it can bring small conversion in a price of a bad mood of your customer like manipulinks.

These user-shaming labels are called manipulinks (a clever term coined by Steve Costello): they employ the practice of what is often referred to as confirmshaming — making users feel bad for opting out of an offer (logically, this practice might better be described as declineshaming). (4)

HCD: basic principles

Human-centered design or user-centered design is a framework that can be used in every business strategy. It`s really helpful for anyone, who wants to create a delightful business with a high profit. HCD can find solutions by involving a human perspective to each step of a process.

“This holistic approach to design takes inspiration from real people, works within the market and technological constraints, and considers every product touch-point as an opportunity to surprise, delight and deliver benefits to users.” (5)

The basic principles of HCD are:

  • Exact definition of users, their tasks
  • Asking a right question
  • thinking of environment and context your product is used in
  • Involving users in the design and development
  • Make user feedback routine
  • Multidisciplinary team and iterative process

Cycle process of HCD

HCD has a cycle order, that makes sense while you are using it for any need you want and till you get the real result. Process consists of 6 steps: Observation, Ideation, Rapid prototyping, User feedback, Iteration, Implementation. Let`s look closer with a help of IDEO`s explanations. (6)

Observation

About: identifying pain points, interests, hobbies, day line of your end-user

Goal: to understand your user fully

Ideation

About: brainstorming staying focused on users needs

Goal: get as much ideas as you can

Rapid prototyping

About: building a simple prototype of your ideas

Goal: give a prototype to a user

User feedback

About: get first user`s feedback as quickly as possible

Goal: make sure that you are working on your target

Iteration

About: using the feedback information and test the prototype again till you will find a better solution

Goal: get the best solution

Implementation

about: when you are sure that you got right solution - you can go to next step and implement your idea. And to be sure you should go back to first stage of Observation and start all of it again and again.

goal: get your best idea out into the world

As you see HCD framework is very helpful in full life cycle product development, as it consist of concrete stages, each of those gives you more possibilities for improving your product.

UX is a filter that can remove the grain from the hollow and help you find the feature that will fit your customer perfectly. This is the way to improve KPI and optimize business processes because when you know what is valuable for your user — you act directly and fully concentrated. And Human Centered Design is the best way to meet your user's needs and find solutions, that will be capable of satisfying needs of both — the customer and the business.

References:

  1. UX Design Defined. More info here: http://uxdesign.com/ux-defined
  2. 130 Project Risks. Anna Mar. More info here: http://management.simplicable.com/management/new/130-project-risks
  3. Richard P. Gabriel. Is Worse Really Better? More info: http://dreamsongs.com/WorseIsBetter.html
  4. Stop Shaming Your Users for Micro Conversions. Kate Meyer, Kim Flaherty. More info here: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/shaming-users/
  5. Dave Thomsen.Why Human-Centered Design Matters. More info: https://www.wired.com/insights/2013/12/human-centered-design-matters/
  6. IDEO’s 6 Step Human-Centered Design Process: How to Make Things People Want SPENCER LANOUE. more info here: https://www.usertesting.com/blog/2015/07/09/how-ideo-uses-customer-insights-to-design-innovative-products-users-love/