User Experience Design Process, Principles, & Goals

Instructor: Temitayo Odugbesan

Temitayo has 11+ years Industrial Experience in Information Technology and has a master's degree in Computer Science.

In this lesson, using a fictitious character saddled with creating a Product Specification Document, we will be looking what a Product Specification Document is all about, steps on how to write one with examples of its layout.

User Experience Design Defined

User Experience Design is the collective processes or efforts put into ensuring that a personal experience derived from an encounter with a product, person, or service is enhanced or improved significantly to ensure continued interest and satisfaction. In other words, trying to make the customer happy.

Mark is a first time Internet shopper and wanted to shop online for some clothes on a popular fashion website. He spent a few minutes rummaging through the variety of choices and making selections from a well-designed site that used images and icons for easy shopping. But he felt lost and frustrated once he reached the shopping cart, not knowing what to do to conclude a transaction successfully. His attempt at closing the web page however brought him relief. The website prompted him to confirm page closure while subtly asking him why he wanted to leave, offering him another chance to shop and this time directing him on how to successfully complete the transaction.

In a different example, Allen (an experienced Internet user) wanted to renew his cable TV subscription, so he logged on to his provider's website. He was prompted for his customer ID and email address which he supplied. He was prompted to confirm his transaction and proceeded to confirm payment using his bank-issued debit card. Unfortunately, he could see the transaction returned as failed despite being notified through his bank's SMS notification system of his account being debited for the transaction. Startled at the prospect of losing his money, he tried unsuccessfully to locate information to contact the service provider's customer service desk to complain. He had to contact his bank to reverse payment.

Two folks with similar product use but different experiences sum up what a typical user experience is all about.

User Experience Design Processes

In designing a user experience, several processes are taken into consideration as a way of dealing with potential failures which might arise due largely to the user's level of competence more than design deficiencies or both.

These include but not limited to the following: -

Interaction Designs

Interaction Designs are those designs which direct a product user to achieve their goal through a series of well-thought-out actions, behaviors and feedback as part of the product's process flow.

Mark felt ''lost and frustrated'' because the fashion site failed to adequately address key issues required of a shopper to conclude a transaction successfully. They needed to ensure the process flowed smoothly from the time browsing began, to when clothes were added to the shopping cart, to the actual checkout transaction.

It was not until when Mark decided to cut short his experience did the site become engaging thereby winning him back.

Visual Designs

''A picture is worth a thousand words'' is a popular but old English idiom. This, in effect, represents what a Visual Design stands for. It helps in communicating a product's brand or services to the end-user using imagery, colors and other conventionally used icons, buttons and symbols, to as much as possible reduce the use of heavy text.

Looking at the fashion site again, we saw that Mark, despite being a newcomer, was able to navigate through the products selecting his choice of designs as a result of the proper use of imagery, colors and other product descriptive designs rather than through a lengthy description of each product.

Information Architecture

Information Architecture is the process of laying out properly all the different sections of a product design to make it easy for the user to access information and navigation through the process flow to achieve a successful user experience.

Mark was unable to proceed to checkout initially until he was re-engaged by the site while Allen's attempt to contact a customer service agent failed as he could not find a contact address.

These experiences would have been much better if the two sites had a good information architectural design.

Usability Engineering

Usability Engineering is concerned with ensuring that whatever design is adopted for use in a user experience design, the intended users and goals were effectively and efficiently catered to. It is only by this that user satisfaction is achieved and not by the beautiful layout designs.

Despite a smooth sail for Allen, the payment system designed into the service provider's site failed to function properly thereby failing to achieve the intended goal of online payments.

Prototype Engineering

Prototype Engineering, like usability engineering, aims at ensuring that all built-in designs are functional and all intended goals can be met effectively by subjecting a prototype of the expected finished design to well-structured tests.

Several flaws can be spotted and rectified before product design is pushed to more end-users.

Principles and Goals of User Experience Design

During product design, incorporating user experience helps create a design which should limit the effort required to enjoy it.

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