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User Experience Designers

The Job

“User experience design as a discipline is concerned with all the elements that together make up that interface, including layout, visual design, text, brand, sound, and interaction,” according to the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA). “User experience works to coordinate these elements to allow for the best possible interaction by users.”

According to the UXPA, the typical user experience design process is broken down into four phases: Analysis, Design, Implementation, and Deployment.

Analysis Phase

  • meet with key stakeholders (e.g., clients, executives, programmers, marketing workers, engineers, quality assurance specialists, and other UX designers) to establish goals and the budget for the project
  • conduct field studies in which data is collected about users, user needs, and product requirements; these studies involve both interviewing users and observing their behavior when they use similar products
  • investigate similar products offered by competitors
  • document user scenarios (i.e., every way in which users might potentially utilize the product)
  • document user performance requirements (i.e., what they expect in regard to layout, visual design, text, sound, etc.)
  • develop a task analysis (i.e., the steps that must be taken to create the product)

Design Phase

  • brainstorm design concepts and metaphors (graphic elements that mimic or copy real-life objects like buttons)
  • develop screen flow (the order in which users will see various interfaces as they navigate the product) and navigation models (which define where users start, how they navigate through the product, and all of the major elements of the product such as screens)
  • develop a wireframe (a basic outline of navigation and content elements that make up a user interface)
  • experiment with and test design concepts
  • create prototypes on paper (these are known as low fidelity prototypes)
  • conduct usability testing on low-fidelity prototypes
  • convert approved low-fidelity prototypes to digital prototypes (which are known as high-fidelity prototypes)
  • conduct usability testing again
  • document standards and guidelines
  • create design specifications for review by executives and customers

Implementation Phase

  • conduct ongoing heuristic evaluations (a usability inspection method for software or hardware in which the interface is compared against accepted usability principles, commonly referred to as heuristics) to identify areas in which the product does not follow those principles
  • fix design issues and any other problems that have been identified
  • work closely with programmers, clients, and executives on various aspects of the design
  • conduct usability testing

Deployment Phase

  • use surveys to obtain user feedback
  • conduct field studies to gather information about real-time use
  • check objectives using usability testing
  • when objectives are met, production of the finished product is started
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