Usability pt. II

30 September 2013
By Dmitry Kozitsky, Senior Designer

Interaction designing

User experience is the personal perception of the product by a user, based on several factors: the aesthetic perception (subjective satisfaction), the speed of the interface, the simplicity of training to work with the product, the number of errors encountered when using the product. It is essential.

Why is the interface design so important?

First of all, the having a convenient and intuitive interface is important for the end-user, and that means, for the client too. Users want the product to match their needs and therefore well-designed interface increases sales and also reduces the number of calls to tech-support – which is good for the client.

But well-designed interface is essential for the development team too. Development process based around use cases simplifies communications with project stakeholders, which helps project manager. At the same time it helps QA as they interact with the product more than anyone and convenient interface will reduce amount of labor work. And the last but not the least, it allows developers to focus on product workflow rather than spend time on designing the interface, which is done by UX designer.

Project analysis

The first and the main stage of interface design is the analysis.

At this stage, interviewing the client’s representatives takes place in order to determine the goals and objectives of the client, as well as understand what the result should be. After that, you need to conduct interviews with experts in the appropriate market, as well as the potential buyers of the product. The experts have a deep knowledge of the field, whereas consumers are spending money on certain products and have some ideas of how the product should look. We should also note that users of the product and its customers are often very different people – for example, users and customers of corporate software or baby products.

Within the analysis phase, it is necessary to conduct interviews with users or potential users of the product. It is important to take into account all user groups here, as it is information from users that will help to create a user-oriented product in the first place.

During the first stage, it is also necessary to analyze the market. It is important to find direct competitors that cover almost all functionality of the product and the target audience, or indirect competitors – those who partially cover the functional of the product.

At the end of the analysis, an analytical report is prepared, which describes the goals and objectives of the product, the groups of the target audience, goals and tasks of the consumers/users of the product, as well as information about the market in which the product will operate.

Modeling

The next stage of the project is modeling. During this stage, we create personas of members of the target audience of the future product. Since the audience may be very diverse, it must be divided into groups united by common qualities (aims, gender, age, etc.). Personas are supposed to be the most distinctive representatives of each group.

Example of a persona

Example of a persona

Once all the characters are described, it is necessary to think through the goals and tasks of these personas. The persona goals are the personal reasons for the use of the product (self-realization, money earning, the acceleration of the work, goods purchasing, etc.). The persona tasks are different ways to achieve certain goals (goal: to buy goods; tasks: to find a product, find out more information on this product, add to cart, pay for the product).

The next step is to create a scenario of user-product interaction for each persona (Use Case).

On the basis of the created use cases a mind-map is created, which represents user-product interactions, so that we can visually identify the possible sequences of events. A mind-map will help to find the key features of the application and the common elements for the different personas, and in case of any errors or inconsistencies it can help you quickly eliminate these errors.

Mind map of an application

Mind map of an application

The next step is to gather all of the key interface screens and define a sequence of screens. To do this, create a navigation application model (Site Map, Application Map)

Visualization

Once all the analysis materials on the project have been collected, you must proceed to the future interface sketches (wireframes). All wireframes should be prototyped based on the opinions and needs of the personas.

The wireframes should be discussed with the client. If the client approves them, you must discuss the technical feasibility of these sketches with the developers. If for some reason mockups need extra work, they are refined until both the client and the developers are happy.

At the next step a dynamic prototype for user testing is created. Testing helps you find the trouble spots in the product and fix them. The redesign process is repeated until the users are satisfied.

After the design interaction is completed, the wireframes go to graphic designers for detailed drawing. And then, the development of the product begins, but that is another story.

See also: Usability pt. I

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