Kaitlyn Welch is a graphic designer who has been a part of the carimus team for over two years. She has recently taken a class on UX/UI design and shared her insights into the user-centric process she works through when creating new designs.
I have always been intrigued by the world of UX/UI. I recently had the opportunity to take a Google Certification course in UX through Coursera and I’ve learned so much about the field of UX, from how to create lo-fi and hi-fi prototypes to conducting full usability research studies.
As I worked my way through the course, I was able to involve the skills I was learning in our current client projects. It was amazing to see how much of a difference it makes when you put the user first in the design process.
Creating your user persona
The first step to any user-centered design is to empathize with your user. Think about the product you’re creating and what kind of person might be using the product.
One example used throughout the course is a dog walking app. When thinking about the users in this scenario you may assume the target user might be someone who is away from home often and isn’t able to walk their dog as often as they’d like. Another user may be someone who recently injured their foot and is unable to walk their dog for the time being. These two users will find your product useful but for different reasons and therefore, they will have different needs.
For each of your target users, you’ll need to create a persona, which will make your user seem more realistic and give you more insight into their needs. It’s also important for you to acknowledge your personal biases throughout this process and how they may be affecting you when creating user personas and evaluating their needs.
Mapping the flow
Once you have created the personas, you can start to build your product based on their needs. The beginning of this process generally starts with mapping out the flow a user will take through your product. Once you have a general idea of the flow you can start to create wireframes, which are going to serve as the foundation for your product.
You can start with paper wireframes which allow for faster iteration and then move to digital wireframes which will allow you to build a lo-fi prototype that will be used in the next step. Lo-fi prototypes are a very simple visual representation of the product with interactive elements that allow you to progress through the flow you established earlier.
Once you have a lo-fi prototype you can begin usability testing and research. This is when you allow users to interact with your prototype and take notes on their reactions, thoughts and feelings about the product. This research will give you insight into real users’ needs that you may have not considered otherwise.
From here you can go back and iterate on your design to better fit the needs of your users and address any concerns that may have come up. You can cycle through editing your prototype and doing more research until you are confident in moving on to hi-fi prototyping.
Hi-fi prototyping is when you begin to incorporate your product’s branding, colors, fonts and visual design elements. It’s especially important to keep in mind the web accessibility guidelines and any other accessibility concerns relating to visual design in this stage. Your hi-fi design should be as close to the final design as possible before it goes into development. You can also hold more testing and research during this stage if necessary to ensure the usability of your product.
And that’s it! You’ve got a final product ready to be developed.