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It doesn’t matter how beautiful your product is; if it’s not designed with the end-user in mind, you have no chance of surviving in the competitive market. This is exactly what UX design is all about – creating a user-centered product that solves the target audience’s pain points, meets their needs, and makes their experience flawless.
Sounds too complicated? No worries. We’ve created the ultimate guide to UX design in 2021 that will help you sort things out, sharpen your knowledge of UX design, and allow your business to benefit from a carefully considered UX strategy. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Differences between UX and UI design
- What design thinking is and how to implement it
- What rapid prototyping is and how it can help you save time and money
- Tips on how to create an effective UX design
- How to find a UX design agency
- Ways to find UX problems and fix them as soon as possible
- UX design trends in 2021
Make yourself comfortable, and welcome to the world of UX design.
What UX design is and how it differs from UI design
Let’s start with the definition. According to Scott Johnson, Head of Design at Alto, UX design is a process of deeply understanding the user’s needs and objectives. This statement also defines the key differences between UX and UI design: UX design goes far beyond the visual representation, concentrating on the customer perspective and making every touchpoint with the product carefully crafted and intuitive.
UX design focuses on the user journey, user values, needs, pain points, and skills, while UI design is all about handling the visual components users interact with during this journey. Though different, remember that UX and UI should come together if you want either of them to work. UI design works efficiently only when combined with intuitive UX design and vice versa, so don’t underestimate them.
To make it more straightforward, let’s review the fundamental principles of both UX and UI design.
UX design principles
- Focus on the emotional value your product brings and make it an indispensable part of your user journey
- Know your target audience like the back of your hand. Understand your users’ background, needs, and preferences, as well as their behavior and scenarios when they use your product or service
- Create prototypes to receive early feedback, communicate your ideas, and identify the UX problems before launching the product
- Perform usability testing to get insights on how users interact with your product
UI design principles
- Make the interface simple and intuitive. Don’t make your users think
- Use common design elements to make your product look consistent
- Build a visual hierarchy with the help of captivating typography
- Use color and texture to evoke emotions and emphasize the key messages
As you can see, good UX and UI design focus on different aspects of the product and have different purposes. The trick is to start with the UX because without understanding your target audience’s preferences, you can’t build a product that solves their needs and is convenient for them to use.
One of the best ways to understand the end-user better and generate creative ideas is to incorporate design thinking into your corporate culture. Here’s how.
How to apply design thinking in UX design
Design thinking is an iterative process aimed at understanding user emotions and constantly creating and testing prototypes to understand what approach works for your client best. The primary purpose of design thinking is to focus on people and create solutions with the customer in mind. How do you do that? By following these steps:
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand how they act and what drives them to make decisions. Set aside your own assumptions and try to define the problem from your customer’s view. Engage with your customers, ask open questions, and try to understand the problems they have.
- Define the problem
After you’ve gathered insights, define the core problems you and your team are going to solve. For example, you need to create an online payment system and, during the “emphasize” stage, you realized your target audience needs a better way to track expenses.
According to the rules of design thinking, you need to define the problem from the user point of view. Don’t say, “We need to develop a system that will help track expenses,” transform it into “Our customers need a better solution to track expenses and plan their budget better.” Do you see the difference?
Now, it’s time for brainstorming and idea generation. Be clear and come up with practical decisions on how to solve the problem.
Create a simple prototype to show your ideas and test them against your target audience. Prototypes are the best way to see if your ideas deserve a chance. Additionally, you can quickly make changes and adapt your prototype without wasting time and money.
Run user testing to get early feedback and fix issues. If you discovered that the solutions you’ve come up with are not the best during the testing stage, get back to prototyping. Design thinking is all about flexibility, and there’s nothing wrong with going back and forth.
As we’ve already mentioned, prototypes are the best way to test your product on the market. But have you heard about rapid prototyping? Follow along to find out more in the next chapter.
Rapid prototyping is based on designing simulations for the future system in a short timeframe. Thanks to rapid prototyping, you can:
- Save time and receive feedback as soon as possible
- Create multiple tests and iterations
- Stay on the same page as your team
- Save money and roll out a high-quality product
Creating rapid prototypes is like drawing on a napkin or making black and white sketches on a piece of paper. Simplicity is the key since the goal of a rapid prototype is to visualize your ideas, not creating a perfect sketch. All you need to do to implement it is:
- Research your audience
- Create a list of tasks you need to prototype
- Design rapid prototypes of your ideas (keep it as simple as possible and don’t get into too many details)
After the initials prototypes are approved, you can proceed to more detailed prototypes but still without creating a visual design.
The key message here is never to skip the prototyping stage as it’s an important pillar of successful UX design. What other steps do you need to take to make UX design work for your business? Keep reading to find out how to discover and fix UX problems to improve user experience.
Best ways to find UX problems
UX design and design thinking will help you create a stellar product. But what about improving an existing one? Here are the best ways to find UX problems and fix them as soon as possible. You need to incorporate:
Usability testing means testing the features of your product with the help of real users. This testing type is usually divided into the following categories:
- In-person UX testing with a moderator
- Remote UX testing with a moderator
- In-person UX testing without a moderator
- Remote UX testing without a moderator
In-depth UX interviews will help you get into the mind of your customer (in a non-creepy way) and reveal their feelings and experience with your product. But you need to be properly prepared before these interviews, so make a list of questions you will ask before, during, and after the testing in advance. It’s better to choose open questions as they will give you more insights to work with.
Analytics are a gold mine of real-world data. Pay attention to the following metrics to understand what issues users may encounter when interacting with your product.
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Checkout abandonment
- Pageviews per session
- Session length
- Failed internal searches
Try to combine all the methods we’ve mentioned to pinpoint any UX issues in your product. Though, if you don’t have the time or resources to conduct UX analysis and testing, you can always outsource UX design to an agency. All you have to do to hire one is to follow our tips.
How to choose the best UX design agency
Here’s what you need to do if you want to pick a UX design agency that will actually bring value to your product.
- Study the agency’s clients, their industry, and results
- Ask for detailed case studies and real examples with statistics and testimonials
- Ask for as much information as possible about the work process
- Choose a UX agency with relevant expertise
- Study the testimonials or write to their previous clients to ask for a review
Hiring a UX agency is an excellent opportunity to bring your product to a new level, work with experienced professions, and learn from their experience.
Now that you’re all caught up on the ways to make the UX design of your product pop, let’s look at the latest trends in the UX design industry.
UX design trends 2021
Here’s our list of the top six UX design trends in 2021 you should pay attention to if you want to make your product stand out.
- Micro interactions: small animated elements that help your users interact with the product
- Zero UI: a tendency for minimalism and simplicity
- Animated illustrations: a great way to draw more attention to your product or service and prolong the time on a page
- Voice UI: using voice control in UX design
- Emotional design: triggering positive emotions during the customer journey
- New navigational elements: frameless devices, vertical navigation panels, and gesture control
All in all, the key trend you should always be following is focusing on the user. It will never go out of style.
We really hope that our humble guide will help you grasp the fundamental principles of UX design and how to implement them. If we can leave you with one tip, it’s this: don’t underestimate the power of UX design when creating a new product. Spare enough time for user research and focus on your target audience. It will definitely pay off. And if you still have questions, or need a consultation on UX design, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always ready to help!