3 Ways to Start Adding UX to Your Projects

Michael Collins

What is User Experience anyway?

Definition: "User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

Not to be confused with how it looks a.k.a. the

User Interface - The user interface (UI), in the industrial design field of human-computer interaction, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur.

Also not to be confused with how easy it is to use, a.k.a.

Usability - Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.

How does it make you feel?

User Experience goes beyond how something looks and how easy it is to use. It delves into the area of the human mind and how it behaves. We all carry around certain biases and mental models built from past experiences. If the digital experiences don’t meet those biases and models then we have to put some cognitive load into whether we like the experience or not. 

Like a good therapist, the user experience designer is digging deep, asking questions you wouldn’t ask of yourself, teasing out the reasons you feel this way, and helping to create an action plan for improvement. We get to research, interview, observe and analyze. This forms a direction to head along with tests we can conduct along the way.   

More than a button with rounded corners

Depending on the size of your agency, you may not be spending a lot of time on user experience. That’s fine but it may end up costing you in the long run. The client expects their digital experiences to return results but their budget may not be up to par. 

Understand, Design, Test, Iterate

Understanding the lay of the land through research allows you to formulate a solution that builds a distinct path to the user and business goals. Activities during this phase include Competitive/Comparative Analysis, Surveys, Interviews, Workshops, Experience Mapping, building Personas, and field studies. 

User experience in Design is geared more towards the overall functional elegance of a system. Activities include Strategy Workshops, Service Blueprinting, Wireframing, Flowcharts, Wireflows, Prototyping, Information Architecture, Sitemaps, and Design Comps.

Testing can take place through various phases of the project. Typically there is something designed or built that needs to be tested. Activities include User Testing, A/B Testing, Unmoderated Remote Testing, and Usability Testing.

There is a phrase that goes ‘always be testing’. Along with that... ‘always be Iterating’. Activities include Data Visualization, Goal Setting, and Performance Analytics. 

Adding in UX to your process

Here are a few things you can do, on the cheap, that’ll have some results. 

  1. Top Task Survey - You run a Top Task Survey to reduce complexity by identifying what really matters to customers. This will help in focusing the budget on the tasks that are going to make a difference and lessen the time spent on tiny tasks that won’t. Think 80/20 rule.
  • Gather customer tasks from your client.
  • Work with stakeholders to shorten this to key tasks.
  • Design the survey with an “other” text area for free form thoughts from respondents.
  • Get a representative sample of the client’s customers to vote. 
  • Create a table with the rated tasks.
  1. Reviews - Review existing data for some hidden gems. 
  • Do an informal Design Review - Walkthrough top tasks in the existing product and not areas that are confusing, inefficient, memory-intensive, ugly, pointless, or inaccessible for users.
  • Take a look at the Analytics - Search, device, entry, exit, and errors. 
  • Read through the Call Center logs - Review the top ticket topics and sit in on a support call if you can. 
  • Other good resources are social media comments and reviews. 
  1. Unmoderated Remote Testing - This would take the place of a formal usability test. Tools such as Maze and HotJar are good for pre and post-launch.  

Time and Money

Is there enough in the budget to account for the time to do these? Do you have a process to efficiently handle and report on your findings? Look for the issues that are going to make the biggest difference. This will build trust with the client and show that User Experience is a great return on investment. If you need an ROI calculator checkout Human Factors International calculators. Here is a post of other examples to help convince your clients that it’s worth putting some of the budgets towards User Experience.  

Let me know some of the ways you bake in user experience into your process by connecting with me. Thank you!


About the Author

Michael Collins
Michael Collins

I’ve been working in the creative and digital space for 25+ years in varying positions from graphic designer, web designer (UI)/developer, Development Manager, Director of Product Strategy (UX), Creative Director, and agency owner. Before that, I worked in business administration. Out of all those my passion is with UX strategy. I approach projects with both the user and business goals in mind. For fun, I like to photograph things. Most of the time, I come upon the subjects, and sometimes they come upon me.
Schedule a call with me.

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