Originally published on Net Magazine Issue 307, Voices/Op Collection, July 2018
The relevance of UX design in industries is important to note because it shows businesses are starting to intentionally center their products around people. What we might not have realized before and what good UX design aims to accomplish is in order to create good products, we need to understand people.
Bad design often results in a lack of empathy and when I mean empathy, I mean a basic to deep understanding of who we are creating our products for. When we don’t understand our audience, we fail to see the problem they are going through and end up designing for ourselves. This mindset is detrimental because it wastes time, money, and we fall victim to our biases. The best products are a result of putting aside our expectations to effectively listen and observe what people need.
Before we start designing products, we need to understand the market our product potentially exists in. A rich market is the result of a need. In order to design “good” products, we need to understand people’s desires and struggles. What problem do they need help solving? What are their inner desires or passions? Are there existing products which are helping people with this problem? What is the bigger goal people want to achieve but they don’t even realize is possible? When we understand what people want, relevant ideas start to emerge.
Talking to people allows us to define design problems by seeing patterns based on people’s different experiences. When we don’t even start by talking to people or include them in the design process, our designs are inaccessible. To prevent this from happening, we need to validate our ideas with our users first and foremost. Including them throughout the process is a bonus so that we are intentional with the ideas we come up with and we are iterating with the user’s best interests in mind.
In order to define a problem, we need to do these simple things:
Talk and LISTEN to people– This can simply mean talking to people to get a sense of their problems if you don’t have one in mind.
Define the problem– What is a person’s core need and how can I help them?
Determine if there is a need or market for your product– After defining the problem, is this design something people really need?
Include people in the design process– People are the core of your product. You are helping them with their needs so when you include them through your process, whether it’s testing your designs with them or keeping track of their needs from user interviews, it brings clarity to your design. It also helps in creating constraints and principles that can keep you accountable for designing with the users needs in mind. Here is an article I wrote about conducting usability studies which can help you narrow down on problems and come up with questions to ask users.
Have a solid rationale– How does your design solve a problem? Make sure you have solid design decisions behind what your product does and how it addresses a user’s need to help them achieve their goals. If you can explain these things, you most likely have a “good” design.
Test and validate your designs– When you have ideas, testing them with your users is extremely helpful and can address a lot of holes in your design. Are they grounded in a specific scenario? Can you explain how someone would interact with it? Can people interact with your product without your guidance? Testing your designs with people makes sure your design is contextual and accessible.
When we fail to define the problem and our audience, the products we create are inherently useless. When we start with people, they influence our design. After all, we are designing products that are for people.