A few critical aspects of the UX design process—a cluster of core activities and responsibilities – make up most of a UX Designer’s day-to-day work. According to the 2020 BrainStation Digital Skills Survey, UX Designers spend a significant amount of time working in each of the following categories.
Many people aren’t aware of how much research UX design entails. Market, product, and user research are significant components of UX design, as research is crucial to understanding the user and their individual needs. User research often focuses on the behavior, motivations, and conditions of a customer to help the Designer identify opportunities in a particular market for product solutions. Among the research methods, UX Designers commonly use to gather information and insights about target users are data collection, surveys, user interviews, and focus groups.
The development of user personas is another crucial phase of the UX design process. During this stage, UX Designers consolidate and interpret their findings to construct representative personas based on patterns and commonalities in their research. Each persona communicates a potential user’s demographic information, motivations, needs, possible responses, and anything else Developers will need to consider—a helpful tool that helps the organization gain a clearer picture of who they’re building the product for.
Information Architecture (IA)
Information Architecture describes how information is mapped out and organized to communicate a clear purpose—in a word, how the information is navigated. Adobe defines IA as “the creation of a structure for a website, app, or other product, which allows users to understand where they are—and where the information they want is about their current position.” This blueprint ultimately aims to optimize the way users encounter, move through, and interact with the product or site; with this in hand, the design team can begin building wireframes and prototypes.
As one of the first steps toward building the final product, UX Designers create wireframes—low-fidelity design sketches that represent different screens or stages of the product throughout the user journey. Wireframes include simple representations of UI design elements, guiding further development and product design.
Prototyping and high-fidelity design
Compared to wireframes, prototypes are a higher-fidelity product design that can be leveraged for user testing and illustrating the product to the development team. UX Designers create these prototypes to have a look, feel, and range of capabilities similar to the projected final product. Clickable prototypes allow test users to interact with the product—which lets UX Designers try out practical variations of the experience and identify areas for improvement.
There are several ways that UX Designers can test products. User testing is most common and involves allowing users to interact with a final design prototype to analyze its accessibility, usability, and intuitiveness. But there are other methods; focus groups, moderated user tests, and unmoderated user tests all provide valuable feedback on what is and isn’t working. Product testing is one of the last crucial steps toward identifying what changes should happen as you proceed with development.