UX Design in action, experts weigh in

Design 46

The concept of the user experience is often broken down into two areas: theory and practice. They’re not the same thing because what may work in theory obviously doesn’t always work in practice, and this is where many designers and brands sometimes run into problems with their design processes. If only there was more direct insight into what actually works and doesn’t work when designing and developing products…

UXPin’s latest guide on Design in Action delves into this topic and reveals some very interesting answers that designers can implement today in their own workflows. Featuring hours and hours of firsthand interviews with some of the top designers at influential companies, UXPin’s analysis gets to the bottom of practical methods that work at successful companies.

Design for enterprise doesn’t have to be clunky

There’s a misconception among some designers and developers that enterprise (software) design has to be characterized by bad communication or excessive documentation or a combination of both. UXPin talked to Autodesk’s Tel Aviv team to come away with some revelations that say the contrary.
Its team found that, if it applied the following, its UX design process was more efficient and wieldy when:

  • feature requests were validated with qualitative research (user interviews and support-ticket data) and quantitative research (in surveys and analytics tools) early on in the design process;
  • time was set aside early on in the process for discovery and idea brainstorming by way of half- and full-day workshops;
  • documentation was seen as a way to find information instead of just a paper trail;
  • prototyping for the hardest interaction models was prioritized.

Structured design isn’t everything

While some designers may put a lot of faith into structured design, it’s not appropriate for businesses of all sizes. Take startups, for instance: UXPin found that structured design doesn’t allow startups the flexibility they need to succeed in their design processes.

Based on interviews with Slack’s team, UXPin’s guide reveals that concept exploration should be defined by flexible procedures; in that environment, more structured development isn’t a hindrance and can in fact result in successful product development (though testing and research always have to validate progress).

Here are important takeaways from interviews with Slack’s team:

  • product briefs mustn’t hint at solutions, instead, suggestions for different strategies should be the focus;
  • after the UX design process has started, teams should be allowed to analyze concepts and determine constraints;
  • pair design (two designers working together with one as the leader) usually offers more efficient problem solving and richer idea brainstorming.

Agile UX and creative design can coexist

Fast timelines and retaining creative integrity sometimes don’t always go together in the UX design process. Based on interviews with Kaplan Test Prep, however, we see that that’s not always the case.

Consistent user validation, group brainstorming and scalable design sprints are key to hit fast timelines while still promoting creative integrity within design.

Interviews with Kaplan’s design team discovered that:

  • product ideas ought to be explored with ideation and user research working parallel to each other and then converging to establish design requirements
  • documentation should only be guidance, but certain flexibility should remain to ensure creative freedom
  • to test ideas more efficiently on a smaller scale, mobile-first product design is vital
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