User Experience (UX) is a crucial part of the design process, and is equally important to the actual visual design. There’s no point having a beautifully designed website or app if users don’t know how to interact with it. This is especially important for complex sites because users must be able to easily navigate through the pages, for example clear steps to making a secure purchase on an ecommerce site. It’s also crucial for small businesses and startups as the website acts as the first impression for users and new potential customers. If it creates a negative emotional experience because of usability problems etc then users will not come back.
The importance of this means that you must have a robust UX process. Although the general process is similar, each project is unique, and everyone has their own favoured method and techniques. Each project is going to throw a variety of challenges your way. Below we discuss 3 typical problems you may face in the UX process, and 3 solutions to help you through.
Problem 1. Is the project feasible?
Unlike small projects where it’s perfectly acceptable to knock up a quick wireframe to communicate ideas to clients, for more complex projects this isn’t enough. Many UX designers map out entire user journeys and often different personas before getting to the wireframing stage. There is no problem with this, however there are times when the user journeys are so complicated, and the number of different potential users on the site so high that it becomes questionable whether the project is even feasible.
Solution 1: Tackle difficult parts of the UI first
By addressing the challenging aspects first, you can determine how much development time is needed, help the design process move faster and also decide whether the project is feasible at all. And then you can wireframe the more simple aspects of the user journey which you know are feasible.
Problem 2: Limitations of Wire-framing Software
Most modern website and applications have interactions and animations which a wireframing tool can’t simulate. For example with e Commerce sites, does the layout chance when administrators are logged in? How does the shopping basket change when full or empty? These kind of states are crucial for any useful application, however no WYSIWYG wire-framing tool can do this effectively.
Solution 2: High Fidelity Wireframes
If you have already determined that the project is complex, then it might be the case that the a series of static wireframes aren’t enough to communicate the product. In which case, it may be better to go straight into creating a higher-fidelity prototype, as this will save you a lot of time in the long run. Subtle interactions can make big differences to the overall experience. By creating a higher-fidelity interactive prototype, not only will this make it clear to developers how the website works, but will also make the concept clearer to when presenting to users and stakeholders. This can be done by creating an HTML prototype, an animated prototype using software like Adobe Flash, or by simply using annotations.
Problem 3: Communicate Behaviour to Developers
Now you have the design, prototypes etc it’s time to communicate the behavioural elements of the product to the developers, as well as the testers. If you are working in a large team then it is highly likely not everyone is on the same wavelength, which provides the challenge of making sure you achieve consistency throughout the overall project.
Solution 3: Creating a Behaviour Guide
Most projects will have style guides, but it may be necessary to also have a behaviour guide to go with the projects wireframes and prototypes. The guide will provide rules for various behavioural elements including instructions for scrolling, keyboard controls, the appearance of selected elements etc. This will give developers the knowledge to implement behavioural elements across features, as opposed to tackling each feature individually, and therefore achieving consistency across the project.
It is evident that not all projects can be pinned down into a cookie cutter process, and instead every project needs a tailored approach. Therefore it’s also important to plan for any breaks or problems in the process, and importantly make sure the clients are not only flexible for when problems arise, but also that the budget is in place to realize the project.
What are your biggest challenges you have faced in the world of UX? Let us know your thoughts below!