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Demystifying UX Design

By - Kadambari Sahu | 22 Jan 2020

This article has been authored by Kadambari Sahu, Vice President of Design, ValueLabs, and Swastika Dash, Design Strategist, ValueLabs.

What is UX design? If you start searching on Google and look at the most trustworthy institutions and experts out there, you will find that there seems to be a lot of confusion. Don Norman coined the term ‘User Experience.’ He defined it as ‘User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.’ [1]

If you see this definition now, you can start striking the following myths straightaway:

Interaction design Foundation defines it as:
User experience (UX) design is the process that design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function. [2]

And we at UXG, couldn’t agree more.
Interaction, Journey, and Relationship levels together encompass the field of UX. At UXG, we use this design process to bring holistic delight to customers and make use of our expertise of:

  • User Research
  • Design Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Interaction Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Motion Graphic
  • Branding
  • Exhibition Design
  • Retail Experience
  • New Media Design

When all of these are involved in addressing touchpoints on Digital and Physical platforms, we create great omnichannel User Experiences which are platform-contextual yet transcend media. These design disciplines, though listed as different disciplines, come together in a UX project and are seamlessly experienced by the user. It forms one delightful experience which in-turn improves engagement, brand loyalty, and ultimately, the stickiness of the product.

Let’s take an example and define what each of these means.

UX Research

UX research helps understand the system, its users, their behavior, motivations, and needs.

It is a vast topic. In a nutshell, UX research is a set of tools and methods which helps practitioners understand their users better.

An example:
OnPoint is an OKR system that helps users align their professional goals and aspirations along with the organizations’ objectives. We (UXG) conducted thorough user research, considering all stakeholders. We interviewed business stakeholders to understand their business goals with the product.

We then interviewed users who were employees of the organization at various levels (entry, manager, and leadership levels). It helped us to understand the user goals, what their frustrations are with the current system, and their experience goals with a new system.

It also helped us to move to the next process of building scenarios. Considering all the touchpoints, we created journey maps, which aided in visioning the uniqueness and strengths of this OKR platform. It led to the next step of devising the UX strategy.

User Research: Scenario Mapping for OnPoint

UX Strategy/ Design Strategy

UX strategy/ Design Strategy is the vision of the project.

It helps in improving the Customer Experience and bridges the Design and Business sides of the organization. Design is shaping the business as never before, and we believe it is high time that design considerations are given importance in business decisions.

For the ValueLabs’ rebranding project, the Design strategy (post user research) was to formulate a new brand on various touchpoints. It was to build a vision of creating a new brand with a new logo and outlook. It further guided to design a website. This website, now, becomes a platform to interface with clients (Prospective and Current), Employees (Prospective and Current) in a way that it helps communicate better with all its users. It was also used to visualize complex narratives and to make services easier to understand and navigate. It has helped to merge business and creative objectives in a meaningful way that moves design beyond just an aesthetic exercise. We also launched the Exhibition center to help every stakeholder understand the design process leading to this phenomenal change.

UX Strategy: Connecting various systems to build a new corporate identity

Service Design

Service Design helps to create a delightful experience by improving the experience at every touchpoint of all the stakeholders and creating journeys for them, from a services standpoint.

In one of our projects, the objective was to enhance employee experience by re-examining the onboarding process of new employees.

While mapping employee satisfaction, we took the aid of tools like service design and systems mapping to come across every touchpoint for the new employees. It helped us to see the big picture and understand the pain points of the people who make the organization an aspiring brand. It led us to understand and improve the Onboarding process, making it a seamless entry for newcomers into the organization.

Service Design: Customer Journey Map for Onboarding Experience

Interaction Design

Designing interaction between users and products.

For the Snapfish canvas app, we created an interface to make photo collages for printing and sharing. After our research phase, we integrated strategies in the mobile app to cater to the busy lifestyle of users and their social touchpoints. Social touchpoints are essential when people are ordering prints as they like to take opinions from their friends and family. We also considered the total cycle of awareness, consideration, purchase, and sharing for the product. After various stages of wireframing, prototyping, user testing, and iterating, we designed the solution.

Interaction Design: Wire-framing for SnapFish

User Interface Design:

UI design makes the completion of tasks frictionless and increases usability.

While designing for a live TV portal, we had to go through the entire process of research. The insight was to create a UI that lets users spend as little time possible to browse content and more time enjoying it.

The cross-platform UI design focused on personalization and social validation of content. It enabled the users to pick up where they left on one device and continue watching it on another device (mobile, tablet, computer, and smart TV). It gave users a unified and seamless experience.

User Interface Design: Live TV Portal for M7

Graphic Design and Motion Graphics

Graphic design moulds users’ experience visually to communicate a message effectively.

Motion Graphics helps extend graphics into animation and/ or combine with video footage to deliver a message. We used motion graphics to depict the evolution of the logo. It showed the fluid transition of ideas that delivered the meaning behind the Logo transformation.

Branding

Branding is the Design of making a strategic personality for a product or company across touchpoints.

It reflects the values and promises of the product or company which the consumer may perceive, identify, and relate with. Keeping in pace with their global presence, after 21 years of success in the IT services industry, it was time for ValueLabs to revisit and reflect their current personality in their brand.

After a long and exhaustive process of brainstorming and stitching the organization’s values into the fabric of a new identity, we came up with a new one that reflects what the organization is. After user research and strategy, we came up with the keywords and guidelines which would enable all touchpoints to have a consistent experience. We used the design process to create the logo, website, and created a visual language that could guide various collaterals and events.

Banding: The New Logo for ValueLabs

New Media Design:

New media design helps envision the application of new and emerging technology in meaningful ways.

While exploring the mediums to express our identity in different forms, we created a hologram that visualizes the meaning behind the new logo. The hologram gave a unique experience and engaged the audience. It made the story of the logo memorable.

Design for Retail Experience:

Design for retail experience is a discipline that helps to create a delightful and friendly shopping experience. It includes various touchpoints and strategies.

It involves designing for Physical (Store layout, lighting, visual merchandising, etc.), Services and Digital Touchpoints (e-commerce website, kiosks, etc.). It creates experiences that differentiate the brand in the market.

For one of our projects, we devised a strategy for consumers of an apparel company, to have seamless shopping experience on various touchpoints and media. It involved strategizing for in-shop experience, kiosk, and website. It also extended and expanded the project to look into new service models which included to come up with a surprise box delivered to a consumer.

Design for Retail Experience: New Service Development

Exhibition Design:

Exhibition design is storytelling in space.

It often involves physical, digital, and phygital experiences.

We stitched together various stories of behind the scenes of making the new corporate identity. These processes formed exhibits that explained the meaning and rationale behind the designs. We created an immersive experience with multiple mediums put together, such as print, 3D projection, artifacts, and sensory stimulations.

It was open to the organization and clients to walk in and experience. The exhibition center became a place for deliberations and discussion, knowing more about the brand. Thus, exhibition design can help tell a story through various modality, which makes the experience truly delightful and memorable.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, UX is more than just a design discipline. It is a tool in the arsenal for businesses to differentiate themselves by creating a holistic journey for their consumers and stakeholders. It turns the transactional nature of the business into an emotional one building relationships, and brand loyalty.

References:
1. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user
2. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design

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