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UX and the design process

Introduction to User Experience design and processes.

A UX designer’s role is all about listening to and retelling user stories through their designs. These designs are valuable because they address a need for human-centred approaches that are based on thorough research. These approaches are focused on understanding users’ actual experiences when interacting with a product or service.

Such approaches include addressing the constraints or roadblocks faced by the user. The trick is to approach the user’s problems as opportunities to create a valuable product for the user. It is the designer’s responsibility to define, prototype, and test solutions that meet their users’ needs.

We can describe the UX designer as the architect of the total experience users go through when interacting with a product or service.

The term ‘user experience design’ was initially only used for the design of products. Why was ‘user experience design’ adopted? Terms like ‘human interface’ and ‘usability’ were considered too narrow and too focused on limited human-technology interactions to cover all aspects of a person’s experience with a product. People realised that user experience design went deeper than just usability and started to broaden the term’s scope to include industrial design, graphics, the interface, physical interaction, and manuals.

Here is an overview of some of the central topics in UX design today. Reflect on your own experience with planning, researching, prototyping, and so forth.

Elements of UX: Planning, Researching, Synthesis, Brainstorming, Prototyping, Implementation, Business Model Design, Testing.

As inspiration for the upcoming weeks, read through the article on designing for cats before finishing off this topic.

Read: Mobile Usability for Cats: Essential Design Principles for Felines] [1]

The business value of UX design

Over time, the boundaries between product and service are blurring. For example, you can set up your phone (a product) to give you a weather alert (a service) informing you that, due to heavy rains, your travel time to your next meeting will be longer. If you have a positive experience and the alert enables you to arrive on time for your meeting, your re-use and recommendations result in higher sales and the feature being enjoyed by lots of other users.

Many organisations ask, ‘Why should we spend money on UX?’. Knowing how to sell the value of the UX work you do will set you apart from the rest. Here’s a great article that breaks down return on investment (ROI) from UX design.

Read: The ROI of UX [2]

The UX design process

Without a solid UX design process, you have a much lower chance of designing a product with an enjoyable experience. While a process is generally defined as a set of steps that follow in order, UX designers will iterate at every stage of the UX design process to ensure they keep the end-user in mind.


The strategy phase sets the foundation for the final design. During this phase, UX designers and product teams brainstorm the product concept with stakeholders.


Once the team has defined the idea, they move to the research phase. This typically includes both user and market research. Meaningful research informs good design decisions. Starting research early in the process can save teams a lot of time and money.


Now that the team has researched their users and the market, they need to draw insights from the collected data. The team would have made assumptions in the early concept design and when aligning to business goals. During the analysis phase, teams will see whether their assumptions were correct or need to be adjusted.

Typical tasks that should take place during this phase include:

  • creating user personas to reference as realistic representations of your product’s target audience
  • creating user stories to understand the UX from the user’s point of view. User stories are usually written in the following way: As a [user] I want to [goal to achieve] so that [motivation].
  • mapping the user journey to visualise the interactions a user will have across the product, including pains and gains.


Once user personas, stories and maps have been developed, teams are ready to move to the design phase. In this phase, product teams work on creating information architecture (IA) and the actual UX design. Plan for a highly collaborative and iterative design phase.


Testing is a critical step in the design process because it helps teams understand whether the UX works for their users or causes frustration. During user testing, the team has the opportunity to validate the proposed design with both stakeholders and end-users.

Over to you

You have learned two important points about the UX design process: it generally follows a set of steps (i.e. one design decision follows another), and there’s iteration at every stage from strategy to production.
With that in mind, how would you describe the difference between developing a product for the first time and optimising a pre-existing product? Share your thoughts in the comments and read the posts from your fellow learners for more insights.


  1. Nielsen J. Mobile Usability for Cats: Essential Design Principles for Felines [Internet]. Nielsen Norman Group; 2013 Apr 1. Available from:
  2. Hartman M. [Intro guide] The ROI of UX [Internet]. UX Beginner; 2017 Jan 17. Available from:
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Introduction to UX Design

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