The importance of UX/UI Design in software development
Hundreds of apps are released daily into the market. Still, a significant portion of these apps fails to engage with users and to achieve business goals. Most of the time, this is due to poor UX/UI design.
When developing a digital product, say an app or a website, too often companies prioritize functionality over utility.
Usually, that makes them build apps that are confusing, hard to interact with, or that fail to meet users’ needs and expectations. This situation usually leads to a considerable amount of wasted time and money.
Following a UX/UI Design process with a user-centric mindset helps you make sure that you’re not just creating a product that is usable, but also useful.
At Bixlabs, we have more than five years helping startups build their digital products. We have a top-notch design team who have worked for some of the most innovative companies in the tech industry.
This article we will explain to you:
- Why UX/UI Design is as important as an efficient development process.
- What role plays UX and UI Design in creating a successful product.
- Which are the most effective design tools and techniques.
Let’s jump right in!
A User-Centric Mindset: thinking about the users
Incorporating UX/UI Design into your software development process isn’t just about applying specific tools or techniques. It’s about a whole mindset you need to have.
Having a User-Centric Mindset essentially means focusing on the users and their needs in each phase of the product development process.
According to Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive researcher and one of the firsts to talk about the importance of user-centered design, “design decisions should always be based on the needs and wants of users.”
But creating a successful product in the first try is not possible.
That’s why user-centered design is an iterative process that requires you to experiment with different solutions and polish them until you get the best possible outcome.
Your mission is to understand users’ pains and create a product that will help them solve those pains in the simplest, engaging way.
Building a product is a process that requires a considerable amount of research, data, and testing with real users. That’s the only way you can develop an app that adds real value to your users’ life, and have a higher chance of achieving market success.
Benefits of user-centered Design
User-centered Design can bring many advantages to your business. It can:
- Increase your sales: customers are more likely to buy a product or service that meets their needs
- Boost competitiveness: customers are more likely to choose your product over the competition if your product meets their needs more effectively.
- Save your business time and money: by testing prototypes with end-users when it is still cost-effective to make changes.
UX Design: the spine of product development
User Experience Design is about understanding the users’ needs, gathering insights, and designing a solution to address those needs effectively.
User Experience is how a person feels when interacting with a website, app, or any interface. Ensuring a great UX in your products is critical because it’s what keeps your customers engaged and loyal to your brand.
As Thomas Watson Jr, former CEO of IBM, said in 1973: “good design is good business.“
But how can you ensure the best user experience?
Well, there’s no simple answer to that question.
The experience with a product is different in each type of user. So to provide a great experience, you have to get close to your users. Talk to them, watch them use your product, know how they feel, how they behave, and what their goals are.
Your users will teach you all you need to know, so pay attention!
Some tools and techniques can help you design a great user experience. These are the ones we use in every project we work on at Bixlabs, and we believe are the most helpful:
User Personas: getting to know your users
The most important thing to bear in mind when designing the experience of a product is that you are not your users. Users don’t need or want the same things as you. So you have to step out of yourself to understand their decisions.
One great way to do that is by creating User Personas.
User Personas are fictional characters that represent the different types of users that will use your product or service.
Working with User Personas helps you to understand your users’ needs, desires, behaviors, and goals.
Since you create your Personas out of research, they make design decisions less complicated. They guide your ideation instances and help you understand what direction should your product take to captivate your target users.
User Personas are helpful throughout the entire product development process: from identifying users’ pains and deciding which features to include in a prototype to evaluating the end product.
To create a User Persona, you will need to gather information about your users. One of the best ways to do so is to run User Interviews. You will also need a template to create the profiles.
Here you can download the one we use at Bixlabs.
Wireframes: defining the skeleton of your product
A wireframe is a layout that shows what elements will exist on your app or website.
Wireframing helps teams to create a visual representation of how the product will look and how it will work. Creating wireframes is excellent for identifying usability issues early on in the product development cycle. It reduces the amount of back and forth that usually comes with the development phase. Of course, it’s easier to review features and functionalities in a wireframe, than it is on a fully developed application.
Wireframing also allows developers and designers to walk through the structure of the product without getting distracted by design elements such as colors, images, or even copy.
Customer Journey Maps: getting the whole picture
A Customer Journey Map is a visual representation of the journey that a customer takes before, during, and after using a product or acquiring a service.
Customer Journey Maps help you define how your product will fit into the user’s life and in what context will customers interact with it.
The end goal of a CJM is to understand the different dimensions of the users’ experience to make those experiences better. The knowledge you get from this tool will guide your design and development decisions in subsequent stages.
UI Design: bringing life to your product
The User Interface is the link that connects users with an app or website. It includes how users interact with your product, the overall design, and how you present information.
A User Interface is essentially a way of establishing communication with the user. In this sense, a lousy UI design means a breakpoint in that communication.
Designing a UI is focusing on the visual elements that will facilitate how users navigate through your app and make decisions. An efficient User Interface design solves problems, increase user involvement, and can ultimately turn visitors into buyers.
UI and UX Design are interconnected. There is no exceptional UX without a captivating UI and vice-versa.
How can you ensure effective UI Design?
UI Design main objective is to guide users throughout a product. Visual elements like colors, images, and animations are in charge of making that happen.
As humans, we generally respond to colors in an emotive and subjective way. That’s why choosing the colors for your interface is essentially setting the mood for your product.
Colors can also help facilitate navigation, prompt users to perform specific actions, and set hierarchies on the screen.
Imagery includes different elements: shapes, illustrations, and photos. Whatever the type or style, imagery’s primary goal is to serve as content, define the product’s identity, and facilitate navigation.
Typography can work in many different ways. In most cases, it’s the medium that allows users to consume content, but it also helps guide users throughout the screens, and build up a product identity.
Animation makes apps and websites more visually appealing. Designers use animation to create interfaces with a positive impact on the users. Motion UI helps products to tell a story, and it’s a great resource to hide loading screens, stimulate interactions, and provide visual feedback.
Interactive prototypes: it’s time to test
With all the information you gathered during research you can build an interactive sample of your product.
An interactive prototype will help you test and validate with users your product’s main functions and UI elements. It’s a great resource that allows teams to test the app without having to invest a ton of money in developing something that may fail to meet users’ needs.
The main goal for this step is testing your product and collecting feedback: learning how people interact with your app, the issues they are running into, what they say about the experience.
Then you can use this information to guide design and development decisions for the next stages.
It’s time to build an amazing product
Creating a successful product isn’t not only about making something functional; it’s about creating something useful.
Having a user-centric mindset and applying a thorough UX/UI Design process is fundamental to develop a strong bond between the users and your product.
At Bixlabs, we help startups build successful digital products. We work with an integrated process that ranges from validating hypothesis, all the way through launching.
If you’re looking for an experienced team to build your next app, give us a call.