In a previous post, we discussed what is UX and its importance in relation to Software or Website design. In this new post we follow up on this initial post and discuss the process we have put into place for new Fexco projects. If you want to read our previous post, you can find it at https://techblog.fexcofts.com/2018/11/19/1303/
As mentioned in our previous post, UX is something that needs to be integrated fully in the design and development process. As part of our new projects, we have included UX from the outset of every project. The stages of UX in our development process are as follow:
- Observation and research
- Creation of Mockups
- UX usability session with a few users
- Edit to mockups based on feedback from UX sessions
- Development of working prototypes/Wireframes
- UX usability session with a few users
- Final design ready for sign off
1. Observation and research
UX’s main objective is to solve problems. In order to better understand the issues that the users face, it is necessary to talk to the users as much as possible from the start of the project and before the design process begins. The first phase of the project involves visiting users in order to understand their problems, how they work and the issues they face daily.
In our latest project, project Fusion, a number of field visits to stores took place in Bureau de Change in Dublin, Edinburg and London in order to observe and talk to users. We took notes of the hardware software currently used by tellers and asked questions about how they use the application and the issues they face when talking to customers. These sessions highlighted a number of differences in the way the application is used in different locations.
In addition to the site visits, we ran a number of short surveys with a group of pilot users nominated by the business to find out different things about their views on the application such as what features of the applications they use and do not use, what features they like, the ones they dislike and the items they would like to see added. This was done using Optimal Workshop, an online tool specifically created for UX research. Some of these questionnaires were designed to help in prioritising features of the application.
2. Creation of Mockups
The information gathered from the observation and research phase is used to create assumptions and design static mockups of what the application could look like. These initial mockups are usually kept simple to ensure that the focus in on the flow rather than the look and feel of the application.
3. UX usability sessions
Once the mockups have been done, we usually link them using Adobe XD in order to test our assumptions with a few users. We prepare a script based on some user tasks and modify the mockup links so that they can support the tasks we are trying to get the user to perform.
Usually, Usability sessions are carried out face to face using tools such as Silverback or similar recording system that allows to see and capture both the screen and the reactions of the user. Because our users are located in multiple locations and to ensure we can run these sessions often and in a cost-effective manner, we have decided to use Zoom, an online conferencing tool. This allow us to cut down on travel cost and can be run on each small feature of the app with a couple of the pilot phase designated users.
The Zoom usability sessions are recorded and made available for the team to review afterwards. A document with the main issues identified is also added to the team wiki page. These can be made available to the project stakeholders and can be used to explain the decisions made during the process.
These sessions are an important part of the process as they allow us to catch any major issues early in the process before we even write a line of code. It is the best way to ensure that the assumptions we made in the research phase were correct and to modify the application if they weren’t.
4. Edit to mockups based on feedback from UX sessions
Between each usability test, we can modify the mockups easily to take into account any comments made by the users and to fix any issues identified before we run the subsequent sessions. Often, we will then find out at the next session, carried out with a different user, if the change made resolved the issue identified previously.
5. Develop wireframes or prototype based on the mockups
Once a few UX sessions have been carried out on a feature, the next step will be to create the actual feature as a working wireframe or prototype. This can be using actual data or mocked up data but allow the user to interact with the application as if they were using real data.
6. UX sessions with the prototypes
With the prototypes, will carry out further task-based usability sessions with a few users in order to identify further potential issues. Compared to the test done earlier with mockups, this should ensure a more realistic experience as the users are in a position to use the full application feature.
A test script is used to present users with a few tasks to perform using the software. During the test, very little guidance is given by the moderator of the test and the user is asked to verbalise his or her thoughts so that the team can uncover any potential issue.
7. Final design
After the recordings of the usability sessions with the prototype are analysed, any adjustments are made to the software design. At this stage it can be presented to the Stakeholders for sign off and the final version of the feature can be built by the development team.
In this post, we discussed how our design process is based on initial research followed by an iterative process that includes design, prototyping, testing and validation. In order to get the best results, we have decided to use multiple iteration.
The idea of testing features early and testing them often is paramount in ensuring that we best meet our customers’ needs and the system in place should ensure that we develop products that solve our customer’s issues and provide them with the best possible user experience.