User Experience Part 2: Getting Started

Welcome back! In the previous article, I gave you a brief overview of User Experience Design, along with a real world analogy. Don’t panic…in this article I’ll spare you the arduous task of visualising a clunky house move and instead, share how our team roll up our sleeves and get started on the UX journey.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gustavo Machado, Head of Design at Intuit, to discuss design thinking and processes. During the discussion he talked about how his team are the ‘voice of the customer’. This sentiment is never more prevalent than when we think about user experience. It’s our job as designers to be the ‘voice of the user’. We need to be thinking about the questions that the user is asking themselves when they visit the page. On a commercial website, this starts with initial perception and trust. Mosts users will give a website no more than 10 seconds of their precious time. That’s 10 seconds to answer 3 key questions:

  • Does this site look trustworthy?
  • Does this site offer what I’m looking for?
  • Can I find my way around?

If the answer to any of those questions is ‘No’, then the chances are, the user will bounce pronto.

So, where do we start?

Let’s assume that we’ve been given a clear brief for a microsite from the client, detailing the purpose of the campaign, target audience and KPIs. If we don’t have these, it’s essential to either go back to the client and clarify these points, or to help them to flesh out the details until we’re clear on what we’re trying to achieve.

That’s when the fun begins. At Ambition, we like to start with the humble pencil, graph paper and strong coffee. Our team sit down together and start mapping out where key elements should live on the page. This is known as a wireframe. We consider page hierarchy, navigation and the primary call to actions, all the while asking those searching ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘where’ questions.

  • Why is the user here?
  • What are they expecting to do?
  • What questions are they asking themselves?
  • How do they feel?
  • Where do they go next?
  • How intuitive is this experience?

Again, these are just a few…the list goes on. Essentially, it’s all about you, the user.

Once we have a set of wireframes in draft format, we have a number of ways in which we can share them with the client. Each depends on timing, budget and client knowledge/expectations. We can either:

  • Share our original wireframe drawings – best if we’re on a tight budget & timescale
  • Draw up our wireframes in Sketch – much more polished and helpful to the designer
  • Bootstrap the wireframe in HTML – this allows the client to play with interactive elements in a web browser

The key point to communicate at this stage is that this is just a wireframe. It’s not the design. It’s too easy to start getting hung up on font-sizes, colours and padding at this stage. No – that comes next. What we’re looking for here is agreement that the questions our users are asking are being answered effectively.

In the final part of the series, we’ll dig into the design phase by sharing some examples of a typical UX project. I’ll demonstrate what works, what doesn’t work and you’ll see how our team lock horns over the fine details.

If you’d like us to be involved at any stage in your web project, whether it’s critiquing an existing site or building a new one, feel free to call us on 01344 888721 or drop us an email.

Gary Crane - Digital Director

Gary has worked within the creative industry for over 25 years, evolving from graphic designer to web developer before forming Ambition in the Spring of 2008. When he's not crafting, tweaking or talking websites, he can be found touring the country with his wife in their VW camper van.

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