What about Design?
The role of a designer is to connect the dots between the company’s or business goals, and the user’s needs or user goals. This is achieved first by trying to understand who the targeted users are. In order to do that, the design team builds the concepts of personas to represent a group of users. Those groups are built by similarities in behavior, motivation, demographics, and knowledge.
The personas are based on marketing research. Focusing on not more that 5 personas, which is 5 groups of users, is an optimal solution. Having more than 5 will result in loss of focus during the design process.
The second step is to dig deeper into user problems and behaviors. This is also done by performing user research, such as: talking to users individually, in groups, or following users and documenting their behavior related to the specific topic. Other way to collect insights is to gather analytics, such as: usage of an existing system, or the behavior of a segmented audience.
Often, the designer will create a Journey map to capture all the touch-points (a point of contact) that users have with the system, as well as what are users do in certain points of the process, “What are they thinking?”, “How are they feeling?”.
Flow diagrams are another tool often used in the design process. Flow diagrams capture how all pieces of the system are connected. The diagram should also capture all possible use cases — the steps of interactions between a user and the system.
Some of the use cases are primary, which is what most of the people will see, and some of them are secondary and edge cases. The second group includes for example: use cases for users that are more advanced than the majority of uses, as well error cases.
The next step consists on digging deeper into functionalities and the actual User Interface (or UI). The UI is what a user will be interacting with: a web page, or a screen. Then a designer builds the UI, it is usually built as black and white mockups that are shared with stakeholders to get feedback. After that iteration, the UI will be shared with actual users in order to put ideas in front of users, get their feedback, and refine the design.
This process helps uncover early usability issues with the design and it prevents developing a product that will not map to real user needs, or solve the right user problems.
After it’s ensured that usability is not an issue, and that the design is truly reflecting a solution for the user’s problem, the designer will apply visual design to the mockups. The final design will match the branding of the company and it should have consistency across the medium.