User experience (UX) is an important but often overlooked aspect of any software program or app. In order to create a satisfying user experience, you need to hire a designer who is capable of delivering a product that serves the needs of all users. The problem is that you may struggle to tell the difference between a quality designer and one who doesn’t have the expertise necessary to do the job well. Here are six things that UX designers need to know in order to deliver on their promises.
Every UX designer must begin the design process by getting to know the people who will ultimately be using the product. This is done by conducting user research to find out who the users are, which involves getting to know the users’ goals in using the software or website and their level of technical ability. As part of user research, the designer may observe users in their natural environment—whether that is working in an office or browsing the Web on a tablet—and conduct one-on-one interviews to find out how users interact with technology.
As a UX designer delves deeper into understanding the workflows of users, the designer should start to learn about the frustrations that users face when trying to complete their tasks. Where possible, the workflows encoded in the product should seek to remove these frustrations. That doesn’t mean simply automating the frustrating parts of the workflow. For example, if users in an office are frustrated by lengthy approval processes that their content must pass through before being published, the designer must seek out whether it is possible to simplify the approval process, rather than building it into the product design. You need to work with a designer who understands the frustrations of your users and takes whatever steps are necessary to reduce them as much as possible.
Task analysis is a critical step in user experience. It’s a step-by-step analysis of the tasks that users need to complete, from the users’ perspective. Task analysis clearly defines the problem that the designer needs to address in the design, which is why it is vital not to skip this step. A designer who doesn’t understand the problem completely cannot come up with an adequate solution.
Designers must consider the omni channel user experience that their client provides and avoid falling into the trap of focusing too narrowly on the particular website or app that they have been hired to create. For example, a designer whose primary goal is to create an e-commerce website for a major retailer shouldn’t forget that some customers prefer to buy their goods in a brick-and-mortar store. The designer may be able to help these customers out by including a feature that allows users to see whether particular items are in stock in their local store, in addition to the usual option to buy online.
With more than 10 billion mobile devices in use in 2016, businesses cannot afford to neglect mobile users when planning their digital strategy. Website designers must ensure that their sites offer the same great experience to mobile users as to desktop or laptop users. A responsive design approach ensures that the websites display correctly on smaller smartphone and tablet screens. In addition, website designers should make online forms as easy as possible to fill out using a touchscreen keyboard. By putting mobile users first when planning your digital strategy, you can ensure that your business is not left behind as an ever-greater share of Internet traffic moves from computers to mobile devices.
The best designers are keen to share their knowledge and able to communicate their ideas clearly. You can get a good indication of whether a UX designer has the right skills and knowledge by reading the designer’s blog posts and LinkedIn discussion entries. Are these designers able to offer insight into common design problems and articulate the pros and cons of various approaches? The next stage is to meet with the designer, either in person or via a video call, to get a first-hand impression of his or her communication skills.Above all, UX designers must be good listeners, as they need to listen to the problems of their users before they can understand the kind of solution that is needed. They should be able to ask leading questions that help to draw out information from users about the problems they face. Good designers are also able to explain their design process, helping you understand the challenges inherent in workflows and how the new design addresses them.Hiring a quality designer is crucial for the success of your design project, so make sure that your hire has the right skills. The best designers have more than just technical knowledge: They also have a deep understanding of the problems users face and the right approach to fixing them.