What does a UX designer do during the product development lifecycle?

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Startups are like babies. They rely on constant care and nurturing to grow into respectable adults. However, if you fail to keep them properly maintained and in a positive and healthy environment, they will eventually suffer from an identity crisis leading to negative reactions and churn. With both healthy competition and the rise of new companies constantly looming over the horizon, you must pay close attention to every little detail before releasing any products because it is vital that all material is up to par in order for your startup to succeed in capturing as much market share as possible with minimal customer defections or loss of market momentum.

Design plays a central role in shaping first impressions. If a user launches a product and feels confused about the next steps, they will be unlikely to use it again. A valuable feature set is not enough to keep customers engaged. Your software has to also be easy to understand and accessible so users don't get frustrated with their experience!

UX/UI designers design software with users in mind. A UX/UI designer ensures a positive experience for their audience, and they’ll work with you to create your perfect digital marketing recipe book. One really important aspect that UX/UI designers can help with is thinking about whether different ingredients make sense together or not.

Why do you need a UX designer on your project?

UX designers just might be the most important member of a product team. Their work is what brings a brand to life and they ensure that each interaction with a user feels easy and intuitive. In order for your app or website to make a positive impression, it isn’t enough to have pretty images or flashy graphics. You need an enthusiastic UX designer on your team who uses their creative skills to outdo themselves by combining appearance with usability in such a way that websites and apps feel intuitive rather than clunky or daunting! The importance of this kind of specialist on an app development team is invaluable because design plays such an integral role in how people perceive the value behind each project. Here are some specific reasons why having a UX designer in your midst is essential:

  • Cost savings. A UX designer will help you cut down on future rework with the software as it goes through development phases because there’s less chance for errors to come up, but there’s a good chance that saving money will be an added bonus. Not only will you save time when it comes to changing paths on the original user flow since the whole concept and design were well thought out from the get-go, but you can save money as well.
  • Cross-platform development. UI/UX designers are like artists who paint across multiple canvases and mediums. For example, they think about how everything will look on laptops, phones, and tablets. This umbrella approach lowers the overall development costs because the team has a strict vision of what to do next and avoids many errors. Besides, with responsive design, users feel equally comfortable interacting with a product regardless of the platform they're engaging with it on.
  • Timely product launch. Having a developer by your side significantly speeds up product launch time as they can quickly resolve any development-related blockers such as the unclear purpose of a certain element or feature. If there are design-related blockers preventing further progress, they can create it and remove the blocker immediately.
  • Systematic Product Promotion. UI/UX designers contribute to a comprehensive approach to audience engagement. They prepare design materials that are visually appealing and oversee developers' choices thereby assuring the development progress as intended. UX designers are responsible for developing new features based on the customer’s needs after evaluating your product in terms of its usability, look, and feel.
  • Beautiful user experience. Designers work with images to simplify an app's central message and create user paths based on a general idea of what the app does for its users. The designer’s goal is to make the app easy to use, whether or not the audience knows how it actually works.

UI/UX designer role description

A UI/UX designer is what's commonly known as a "user experience expert". This person wears many hats and normally falls into one of two categories: either the main company front-end developer or its main graphic designer. A UI/UX designer is responsible for shaping how the end consumer perceives your product by designing the manner in which it operates and looks to them, with an emphasis on its practicality and interface.

Designers are the ones that you rely on to help you shape your project and create something beautiful for your customers. The daily routine of designers involves work such as doing quick research, making analytical observations, collecting data, creating wireframes and finally creating prototypes. These jobs are cross-functional because they require creative thinking and a deep understanding of processes all at once. Think about it this way simply put - the role of these people is to make sure that their clients get an overall product experience that's both smooth from a user interface as well as one that provides an easy and intuitive user experience to boot!

What a UI/UX designer does in terms of the user experience and user interface:

The following are essential terms that every UX designer should understand.

In terms of the UX:

  • Selects suitable tools: An important step to designing a seamless UX is to keep up with the latest design applications so as to facilitate changes and updates quickly and efficiently.
  • Makes the product easy to use: The main purpose of a UX designer is to not only make sure that your app functions, but also that its interface/design is intuitive enough for it is easily understood by both new and existing users alike.
  • Making edits/changes based on results: By keeping track of customer feedback (good or bad!) you'll know in time whether or not they're being engaged enough through your product's UI/UX - thus allowing you to make any relevant necessary adjustments.

In terms of the UI:
Creates a concept for each page and screen, creates visual components for each page and screen, aligns graphical elements with the corporate identity.

What does a UI/UX designer do?

The UI/UX designer is like an intermediary who works in all parts of the product. They have to consider both aspects, development and design in order to grasp the essence of a product's features. The twist comes when you have to perform activities that only permit a limited amount of time to get accomplished. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is by remaining organized from top-to-bottom. Some designers might advise using special software that takes care of most tasks instantly for you like wireframing, collaboration and sharing; but nothing beats good old hard work!

As a UX/UI designer, you will be working directly with the rest of the product development team. Your participation in all stages of the product lifecycle is vital: from planning to development, testing, release and maintenance. In addition to carrying out core activities, as part of your arrangement with developers, it's your role to act as a convincing intermediary between them - taking into account user requirements while applying your skills and considering both business interests.

The main job of a UX designer is to make sure the experience moves from one phase to another logically. Starting with a concept sketch and ending with actually putting the product into users’ hands, each stage in this process involves tasks that a UX designer must complete. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of these roles and responsibilities of someone working as a UX designer in web development projects.

Product research

Throughout the product design process, there are several ways to bridge the gap between designers and other people who are involved in the making of products. When putting a product together, it is important to find a balance between usability, which is easy for people to use and understand, but they are also expecting something quite extraordinary from you that will make them take notice.

When it comes to product development, one of the first things one will need to do is research. Product research can be done in two parts, by collecting data and systematizing information. One begins research for a product by making a list of suggestions or problems that occur in a certain industry and finding out how users look at them (considering data and analytics). This process is iterative, meaning that the designer may go back to studying some particular problems as they work through the specified issues.

UX research methods can be divided into two groups: qualitative and quantitative

  • Quantitative research results in numerical values. It answers questions such as How many people clicked on this link? and What percentage of users can find the call to action? Quantitative indicators help designers learn statistical probabilities so they can make an informed decision, and what is happening on a website or in an application.
  • Quantitative research involves taking statistical measurements in order to solve or answer a particular problem. The results of these types of tests help designers determine the probabilities that a particular action will take place, and also whether it's likely or unlikely that an event will occur.

Persona development

Creating personas is an important part of your digital product research. Personas are snapshots of the main group or groups you're trying to reach as well as the problem they are having that your new digital product will solve. During interviews, user analysis and immersion in the environment where a user interacts with digital interfaces, the designer creates these personas that describe the key characteristics points of this target user including age, occupation and marital status.

Personas act as guides for UX designers to create an intuitive UI and a pleasing visual design for a product’s interface. These fictitious characters allow the designer to learn about their target audience and identify several important issues without first accessing statistics and other data that is often difficult to obtain. The entire persona-creation process is essential in creating a better user experience since it allows for decisions made in the creation process to be based on things like real needs, expectations, and desires of users. When personas are built carefully based on relevant statistics and strengths from research done by UX specialists, they help promote informed decisions that positively influence both sales figures & retention rates.

As a rule, one project is not limited to one persona and typically has several user groups. They may differ in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, interests, daily activities, and other characteristics. Moreover, they may seek different things while interacting with your app. Therefore, it's crucial to work out all types of personas and cover the needs of each.

Information architecture setup

After defining personas, the designer begins to break down the information architecture of the application. This stage involves organizing content so the user feels confident when navigating your website when using any or all of your applications and/or scheduled tasks. Defining the information architecture is an essential step in product development that lays the groundwork for building features and defining the user interface (UI). The result of this process is a sitemap/app map along with defined key user flows. The main output of information architecture is product wireframes.

Here’s what a UX designer does to develop the information architecture for your product:

  • User research. A user experience designer should begin their work with user research, making sure to conduct a thorough research by seeking out answers from all sorts of different sources such as surveys and other more personal approaches such as interviews and chats.
  • Content sorting. This is where designers prepare and slice up the content so that it’s easy to navigate throughout your application or website. Next, they would use cross-functional communication with another team member (such as a developer or product manager) to decide upon headings, subheadings, media files, documents, links etcetera - so that it all flows correctly from screen to screen ensuring there are no major hiccups along the way!
  • Navigation building. Regardless of where users appear in your app, they need to find the information they came for without having to take many missteps along the way. For this, UX designers develop a hierarchical structure and build a clear navigation map designating links to explore specific content areas within the app.

Wireframing

When you've created a wireframe of your product, it's time to proceed with the development of the screen. A UX designer does this through wireframing which is essentially roughly sketching every page. The main purpose of creating wireframes is to show how users will interact or even navigate the website so they can make an educated decision about if or not they want to use what you're offering them. Wireframes demonstrate a product’s visual elements and layout, demonstrating how users will see interface elements on each individual screen at a glance before proceeding further and exploring deeper into your website.

Wireframes are like blueprints for a building. They establish the foundation of your product to give you an idea of what you’ll need to build in the end. Questions that are answered by wireframes include: What are my product’s elements (text fields, buttons, images, etc)? Why are they there and where will they go? How do they function and what is their relationship with one another?

The designer presents wireframes at scheduled demo meetings to confirm that they are moving in the right direction. Wireframes help ensure that everyone stays focussed on functionality rather than aesthetics, thereby helping people to be less distracted by detail and making quick changes. It provides everybody with a generalized idea of where tasks need to fit into the workflow and it lets the designer know exactly how much time is required for completing various aspects of the design process.

Prototyping

The following step for the design development process is making a clickable prototype based on the wireframes. The clickable prototype is an interactive product, so it enables users to perform actions that would not be possible in a static wireframe model. Such actions can include interacting with buttons, scrolling through pages, or moving from screen to screen. A clickable prototype may not have colour quite yet; it may miss some details and elements.

However, it shows essential functionality and provides insights into users’ interactions with the product. Designers present the prototype to stakeholders, developers, and end-users. After studying it, they give designers feedback for possible changes (and possibly improvements).

UI design

When creating a product’s visual design, the biggest challenge is adhering to the brand identity. Whether the product’s style is trendy, boring, futuristic, or something else, the UI/UX designer can consider their work to be of high quality if the chosen style awakens the right emotions in users. It’s also vital to correctly distinguish your product from competitors’ products so as not to make it difficult for users to choose between them. Understanding different trends and offering new solutions can help you build an identifiable brand that will allow you to eventually earn more trust among your target audience without much effort in distinguishing yourself from other companies.

In this stage, the UI/UX designer decides on how to best organise all of the elements of each individual screen in order to present content to users most effectively. They also design a user experience that is optimised for viewing, reading and absorbing information. The team take into consideration different scenarios and states to ensure that interactive elements are clearly displayed at the right time. At this point, the designer evaluates whether they find it easy to scan through designs while taking in all of the necessary information as well as whether it was comfortable reading and absorbing information. The designer also makes adjustments where needed because unexpected behaviours or states can be detrimental to creating a user-friendly experience.

At Distinct Clouds, our designers follow the Atomic Design methodology. Atomic design is a pattern that helps a designer think through each component of an interface in detail and maintain consistency throughout the project. Since we use design components to create mockups as well as maintain consistency, designers can adjust UI elements quickly, which is crucial when it comes to scaling products on-demand or addressing customer concerns immediately.

At the final stages, the UI designer creates a UI kit and style guide for developers. By adhering to them, the team speeds up development and remains consistent throughout the project.

Usability testing

Usability testing is conducted in order to evaluate a design’s effectiveness. Initially, these tests are carried out by the development team themselves (the designers or the developers). However, it is important to get as many and real users’ opinions about their experience when using the product. This will help not only to collect valuable data but also to develop products that fit users’ needs best. In usability testing, various user test methods are used. It may either be remote or in-person user testing; explorative, assessing and comparative usability testing methods can all be used for different cases.

UI/UX designers’ areas of responsibility

The main responsibility of a UI/UX designer is to bring people together for the common good. A designer accompanies the project from start to finish, actively participating in the product’s planning, implementation, and support. During design development, a UI/UX designer interacts with other team members and responds to stakeholders while monitoring results.

A UI/UX designer is involved in establishing a brand’s identity for the future. The essentials of this job are: conducting practical research, creating wireframes and prototypes for responsive web and mobile apps, designing work on adaptive websites as well as social media design.

UI/UX designer hard and soft skills

The UI/UX designer is at once a visionary and a luminary. It’s important for this pro to have an eye for the details, crave creativity, be able to use all necessary tools with confidence, and demonstrate an understanding of what makes a successful product while having the ability to turn your company’s ideas into reality. As such, when selecting a UI/UX designer it’s especially vital that you take both innate skill level as well as practical experience under consideration in order to create a team that can truly make your project shine!

Conclusion

A UI/UX designer solves and tackles the problems of both the aesthetic and functional sides of a product. The former must work on how the user interacts with the brand’s product or service; while the latter creates an attractive image of that said product or service so as to make it highly intriguing for consumers. A great designer will help maintain a successful launch by understanding what clients want from this product and what consumers are looking for as well in terms of these needs. They translate all of this information into creating a high-quality design that is not only visually beautiful but also very functional as well. This ensures people are happy with your products and services over time!

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