User experience design (also known as UX design) is the process of optimizing the overall experience that a user has while interacting with a product. When custom business applications are developed, the end users’ satisfaction with the final product is the main goal of the project. To accomplish this, great software developers approach each project with a UX design mindset with the following 5 essential components!
1. Ask the Right Questions
The first step on the path to great UX design is asking questions. Before you can find solutions, you need to fully understand the problems you’re trying to solve.
In a software development project, it is important to begin with an in-depth discussion to identify the business’s needs, as well as those of the software’s end users. Engage in open and honest communication, asking questions to reveal underlying motivations, unknowns, and new possibilities. Throughout the entire process, continue to ask questions to get to the heart of the users’ goals; this enables you to design a customized solution that fully addresses the users’ needs.
2. Empathize with Users
At the center of UX design is the user, so empathy is a crucial element in designing an application that the software’s end users will love. Designers and developers must be able to get inside users’ heads and understand how they think and work. It is critical to avoid “self-as-user” bias: the assumption that users will use an application the same way you would. Avoid this bias by asking lots of initial questions about the users’ needs and by incorporating user testing into your testing cycle. Ultimately, once the system meets your team’s standards for success, the application also needs to resonate with the end users.
Once the project goals have been clearly defined, it is time to begin brainstorming possible design solutions. Initial ideas are fleshed out in whiteboard brainstorming sessions and then transformed into clickable prototypes. Rapid prototyping is a cyclical process in which one effort quickly gives way to another. This iteration process encourages innovation. Before any code is ever written for an application, the project team has the freedom to experiment and find the solution that best addresses the goals of the project.
Collaboration is critical to any software development project. A single individual does not need to complete every aspect of a project by themselves. When all team members contribute their ideas and expertise, the group can build off of each other and create a better finished product. Open communication allows each person to excel in their particular niche, while remaining aware of the possibilities and limitations in the other aspects of the project. This approach optimizes efficiency and leads to improved results.
5. Focus on Impact
End user success is the number one goal of any software development project, so you should strive to design projects that focus on the goals with the biggest impact for your business. A good rule of thumb is the 80-20 rule: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For a custom business application, 80% of its success will come from 20% of its features.
Great UX design focuses on a centralized concept. As part of the design process, the project team will always be pushing boundaries to uncover which solutions are most useful and most meaningful as responses to users’ problems. You should prioritize the features that most benefit the target audience and the project’s overall strategic goals.