Understanding Behavioral and Attitudinal UX Metrics

UX metrics are a set of quantitative data points. These metrics can be used to measure, compare and track user experience. They are, therefore, vital for ensuring that UX design decisions are informed by relevant facts and measurable data.

Is your design strategy working? How are your designs working over time? Are your designs serving your user base? The number of UX metrics is always growing, so you may be tempted to ask, “Which metrics are most valuable for my project?”

Below we explore two of the key UX metrics and how you can use these metrics to inform your designs and products.

Behavioral Metrics

Behavioral metrics tell you how users interact with your product and the issues they may have had. Many of the behavioral metrics mentioned below are relevant to a design’s usability, which is an integral part of UX.

Good usability is key to ensuring that users are happy with your product and don’t start looking for alternatives. Behavioral metrics can be collected using digital analytic tools or during lab usability testing.

1. Time on Task

Time on task is the time that a user spends doing a particular activity. It is usually measured in seconds, minutes, or hours. This metric is ideal for task-focused activities that need to be efficient. For example, you can track the time it takes for users to complete an online shopping experience.

2. Average Session Length

This metric measures user engagement. Normally, the more time users spend using your design or product, the more engaged they are.

3. Abandonment Rate

The abandonment rate is the ratio of the number of abandoned purchase attempts to the overall number of initiated transactions. This metric is relevant to the online shopping experience. A high abandonment rate is a key indicator that something is wrong with your checkout experience.

4. Error Rate

The error rate is the number of users who make errors while completing a task. If users accidentally choose the wrong option or enter data incorrectly, this can be tracked. These kinds of errors often relate to usability issues. Once you know more about the kinds of errors users are encountering, you can start solving them.

Attitudinal Metrics

Attitudinal metrics will give you an idea of how users perceive your product. Examples of attitudinal metrics include Adoption (Which features do people use?), Satisfaction (Do users enjoy your product?), Credibility (What are the levels of user trust?), and Loyalty (Do users want to return to use your product or service again?).

1. Daily/Monthly Active Users (DAU/MAU)

Measures-Loyalty

How many users do you have? Tracking the number of users you get on a daily or monthly basis will help you measure user retention. The DAU/MAU ratio, also known as stickiness, is about how many users engage with your product on a regular basis. For example, an MAU ratio of 50% means your users engage with your product or service 15 out of 30 days.

2.Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Measures-Loyalty

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is measured using a survey that asks users one question- “How likely is it that you would recommend our product to a friend or colleague on a scale from 1 to 10?”  Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 = are detractors. Those who respond with a 7 or 8 = are passive. And those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 = promoters. Then a final NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

3. User Retention Rate

Measures-Loyalty

User Retention Rate is the percentage of users you have retained over a period of time. It is an indicator of whether your retention strategy is working. It is calculated by subtracting the number of acquired users during a period from the number of users at the end of the period divided by the number of users at the beginning of the period.

4. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Measures-Loyalty and Satisfaction

The CSAT is an indication of how satisfied a user is with a particular interaction or with the overall experience. A CSAT is gathered using a survey or questionnaire. This is a measure of a specific part of your product rather than the more generic NPS metric. The downside to this metric is that many users will not take the time to fill out the survey.

5. System Usability Scale (SUS)

Measures-Loyalty and Satisfaction

The System Usability Scale (SUS) is a set of questions that you allow to assess the usability of a product. It usually consists of 10 to 12 statements that users need to rate on a scale (Strongly Disagree - Disagree - Agree - Strongly Agree). SUS requires a relatively small sample size but can still provide you with some valuable user experience data.

Summary

Unfortunately, there is no universal set of UX metrics that works for every project. The best way to explore UX metrics is to understand your business model, your business goals, and your ideal user base. What are the models and KPIs that your company tracks? What do you need to pay attention to? Learn what has a significant impact on your bottom line and use metrics to help you grow your knowledge.

It is also important to tie these UX metrics to design decisions. You will then be able to track changes over time, benchmark against iterations, and measure your product evolution. You will also see whether your design and product designs have reaped the results you expected.

Finally, remember that data only tells part of the story. Data allows you to understand what’s happening, but it may struggle to tell you why it’s happening. Alongside data, it’s essential to conduct qualitative studies such as contextual inquiries and user interviews. Together, UX metrics and qualitative research will help you create a comprehensive vision of your product and how it performs.

To learn more about exploring UX metrics, feel free to get in touch with our UX experts.


Minimalism with a Twist in UX

The term ‘Minimalist’ brings clean white spaces with no single-use appliances or functionless decorations. This doesn’t mean, however, that to achieve minimalism in design, we must strip a website or software of all but the barest of functions. Instead, UX minimalism focuses on simplifying complex processes into a more accessible and better processes, making better apps, webpages, and systems.

When incorporating minimalism in design, the goal is to eliminate unnecessary functions while conveying the intended message concisely.

What is Minimalism in UX Design?


With Big Tech companies like Apple and Google trailblazing minimalist websites, minimalism has become an influential contributor to the overall user experience. Synonymous with exclusivity, minimalism also has the advantage of faster loading times and good compatibility on both small and large screens.
As with all UX design, minimalism focuses on maximizing user-friendly traits. But what sets the minimalistic approach apart from other techniques? As highlighted by Darya Tronsco, minimalism keeps the basic components of a system as simple as possible, allowing the user to interact without the direction or experience needed to deal with cluttered interfaces.

Why use Minimalism?

Aside from projecting a polished and exclusive company image, minimalist websites selling a product have an advantage over competitors. There is no better approach than minimalism for highlighting products, as there is nothing on the page to distract the consumer’s attention.

Minimalism doesn’t only work by emphasizing a product; it also refines it. As UX designers, there is a temptation to include additional, superfluous elements to improve user design, which has the opposite effect. Minimalist UX Design involves relentlessly culling inessential components, which can be challenging to do with our work.

To help with this, we’ve included a list of five essential features of Minimalist UX design, compiled by Amlan Sarkar:

  1. Quick-loading Interface because fewer components make websites more responsive.
  2. Increased SEO makes the layout easier for search engines to comb and index.
  3. Less maintenance because the interface is less complex, and bugs are easier to fix.
  4. Simplicity, which is classy and enhances accessibility.
  5. Meaningful content ensures all features have a purpose and facilitates easy navigation.

If these characteristics are applied to a project well, the resulting system is sophisticated, accessible, and a pleasure to use.

Achieving Minimalist Designs with Examples

The overarching question every designer should be asking themselves when creating a minimalist website is simple:
But even knowing this question, how do we achieve this?

Achieving a minimalist design takes a lot of work, and we can’t replicate that clean website design just by removing components. To help, we’ve detailed a few research-driven techniques below:

Hick’s Law

This law was discovered in 1952 by American psychologists William Hick and Ray Hyman and stated that the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of the available choices. When applying this law to minimalist design, it makes sense that giving users fewer choices in the form of more periodic functions will improve the overall user experience.  Customers who find a website too difficult to navigate will look elsewhere.

A great example of this is Google’s search page:

The center of Google’s search page is a search bar and two buttons. The choice is easy, creates positive user experiences, and helps make Google the leading search engine worldwide.

Whitespace

The negative space between content is called whitespace. Whitespace is essential to achieving a minimalist design because it highlights the important part of the system or page. Take Apple’s Apple Store Online page, for example:

The generous amount of whitespace emphasizes the page's important part: the Apple products on sale. This focuses the user on the product while maintaining the clean, sleek design typical of Apple.

Color and Typography

Minimalist typography involves choosing textual elements that create open, airy, and highly legible lettering. Generally, these simple letterforms have fewer curves and give the page a more modern appearance. Colour is also critical to minimalist designs, with most designers leaning towards grey, black, and white to provide a clean appearance.

Samsung’s UK website uses dramatic, white typography that doesn’t distract from the overall image. The color of the lettering matches the elements of the picture, and the size draws the eye without taking over.

Flat Design

This technique keeps everything from fonts to images as essential as possible, giving the system an aesthetically pleasing, functional look. The Winter Games Olympic Story website is an excellent example of flat design.

Everything from the black and white background to the single pop of color in the date makes this website easy to understand and navigate. The eye is drawn to two options: the hamburger menu or the Winter games button.

Visual Elements

Visual elements refer to site images, icons, or graphic illustrations. They are accessible to everyone and convey more information in a short time. However, in minimalist designs, there is a risk of pictures taking over the page and making any other minimalist choices redundant. One way of getting around this is using grayscale images or images with simple color palettes. A website that successfully uses color with a minimalist design in mind is Ikea:

Ikea’s UK homepage uses yellow in all images, which links back to their logo while giving the media a cohesive look. This maintains a minimalist, Scandinavian feel without sacrificing the joy in their products.

Minimalism in UX - Keep it Simple

The proof is in the webpage, Minimalism works. With the front runners in technology all using minimalist website designs, it is only a matter of time before maximalist web pages are a thing of the past.

Making a minimalist product as a UX designer is not easy, but our UX experts are always here to advise if needed. Get in touch to learn more about creating great, minimalist sites - we’d love to hear from you.

 


What role does the Hierarchy of Needs play in Design?

One of the most influential psychologists in the 20th century, Abraham Maslow, released a paper in 1943 called, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation. The paper’s central idea was that human needs could be categorized into a pyramid-shaped hierarchy called the ‘Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a revolutionary theory that is still referenced by researchers today, but what does this have to do with design?

In 2010, Steven Bradley created a modified version to guide designers, called the ‘Design Hierarchy of Needs. This updated hierarchy takes the psychological theory and turns it into a tool to help designers create a more useful, targeted product. With an overabundance of saturated markets, applying a psychological framework can be the edge a product and designer needs to succeed.

Background

Before explaining the modified version, it is necessary to understand the original hierarchy. In ‘A Theory of Human Motivation,’ the basic, most essential needs are at the base of the pyramid, the second level represents the second-most important needs, and so on to the tip of the pyramid. This structure highlights that the higher levels can’t be properly addressed unless the most basic needs are met.

As shown above, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes 5 tiers. From the base, these are:

  1. Physiological needs, such as food, air, sleep, and water. These are basic things humans need to survive.
  2. Safety Needs, such as physical safety, mental safety, and financial security. Maslow considered these the next most basic elements of motivation.
  3. Belongingness and love needs, like friends, family, and other relationships. This involves feelings of belongingness or being part of a group.
  4. Esteem Needs, including self-worth, respect, and accomplishments. The fourth tier involves constructs such as status or reputation.
  5. Self-actualization is a state of achieving one's full potential, whether that be peak creativity or efficiency. Maslow stated this could not be achieved unless the preceding four tiers were met.

Maslow argued that higher tiers could technically be met before a lower one, but the fulfillment is not sustainable. For example, even the world’s leading UX designers will struggle to repeatedly produce excellent products if they are overtired or physically unsafe.

Where Maslow’s Hierarchy Meets Design

Of course, designs don’t need physical or mental safety to succeed; they’re concepts and don’t need air or water to survive. So how does this translate? It follows the same basic structure.

As detailed above, Steven Bradley’s design mirrors Maslow’s hierarchy’s rule of tiers, so to progress to the next stage of the pyramid, the basic needs of the design must first be met. In Bradley’s theory, the five tiers are as follows:

  1. Functionality - Does the product work?
  2. Reliability - Is the performance of the product stable and consistent?
  3. Usability - Is the product easy to use?
  4. Proficiency - Can this product help the user do a task better?
  5. Creativity - What makes this product well-designed?

1.    Functionality

The service or product has to function before any other elements are considered. This means the basic functions of a product must work before any further steps are considered. If you’re designing a smartphone, it must meet all the defining requirements of a smartphone before any additional functions are considered (to make and receive calls, send text messages, browse the web, etc.). The design has already failed if it doesn’t meet these requirements.

2.    Reliability

At this level, the designer should now focus on offering stable and consistent performance. It must not only work once but work time and time again. The product must already function or achieve the base tier in the pyramid before examining reliability, which supports Bradley’s hierarchical model. Once again, design should have little influence on this tier, as reliability is more important.

3.    Usability

Now, we must assess the products' accessibility. How easily can people accomplish basic tasks? Take the smartphone example. Can users figure out how to turn it on or access the homepage? This is where UX designers often come in to optimize the service provided and keep customers happy. This is the first level in which design is considered to influence whether or not the tier’s criteria are satisfied.

4.    Proficiency

This segment is where designers must consider how the product can help users do tasks more proficiently. What sets this product apart from others in its field? Every product entering the market must have a feature that gives an advantage over its competitors. This tier is where designers isolate and highlight that quality. Consider the smartphone. Perhaps it has a superior camera or battery life - showcase it! This is where design becomes a significant contributor to the fulfillment of the tier and can make the difference between a good and a great product.

5.    Creativity

This is the final, crowning achievement of design. Using the running example involves asking questions like ‘How can your design interact with users in new and innovative ways?’ or ‘Can it function as a debit card or rail pass?’

Bradley notes there is little point in considering what makes a product excel if it isn't functioning, reliable, user-friendly, and proficient. This final level is limited only by the designer and allows room for features that expand on the product itself, which makes it the playground of truly excellent design.

To Conclude

So, the product you’ve created meets four of these hierarchical criteria but misses out on one or two in the middle, is this a deal breaker? No, not necessarily. In reality, most users will be forgiving if the product or service plays up once in a full moon, and there are systems like beta-testing and quality control to catch any significant faults pre-launch. What's important is to listen to feedback and make improvements when needed.

Most of the time, designers will intuitively solve lower-tier needs before attempting to add higher-tier ones. However, the framework provided by Bradley’s ‘Design Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful point of reference that can simplify an overwhelming or complex project into its basic needs.

 

Are you thinking about design from a psychological standpoint? If you’re considering a new approach or want to stay up to date with current design approaches, this article is for you.


Unearthing the Discovery Phase in UX Research

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” Alexander Graham Bell

Discovery Phase in UX Research

Discovery Phase in UX Research is one of the first quintessential steps in the User Experience Journey.  During this phase, the UX Researcher partakes in uncovering the fundamental and preliminary aspects, such as initiating conversational meetings to understand and develop rapport with the associated stakeholders in a preeminence way. This engagement process will help contribute to a successful UX design implementation product.

Let’s unearth how and why this phase is an important part of the UX Research journey.

What is Discovery Phase in UX Research?

To begin working on the UX Design of any commodity/product, whether as a new launch or enhancing an existing feature as a UX researcher, we should first lay the foundational base to the UX Research Roadmap, which is often referred to as Discovery Phase.

Definition

“Discovery phase is a preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem(s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.”

Prepping up

To begin with, as a UX researcher, one has to gain insights into the current scenario and the project's strengths and weaknesses. This is done by initiating communications with the stakeholders. The next process to perform would be identifying and mapping key stakeholders. This is followed by recruiting and scheduling research interview sessions. Next, UX researchers dive further to read/learn the subject matter of the related project documentation and vital user data information.

What Happens Next?

Once the groundwork is readily set, there would be one high-level Discovery session conducted by the UX Researchers with a core group of members. That would include Client team members such as Project Managers, Architects, IT team members, Business Stakeholders, and end users. This is to understand the main objective and get the ball rolling. The high-level agenda comprises-

  • Team Introductions
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Project scope
  • Formalities
  • User requirements
  • Observations
  • Justification for the work
  • Deadlines
  • Constraints (Budget, Technical tools, Company guidelines)
  • Attaining key contacts list
  • Questionnaires
  • Additional cardinal features

Discovery Phase’s Analytical Approach

Analytically, being a part of the qualitative research method Discovery phase provides insights into the user's behavioral and attitudinal perspectives, observations about tools, and other related activities. Once the analyzed information results are mapped and documented accurately, the UX Research team will start working on the next steps.

By brainstorming, prioritizing, selecting, and shortlisting the core features, this analytical approach helps execute the UX Research & Design process by

Fundamental Checkpoints in Discovery Phase

Listed below are basic fundamental checkpoints that are most commonly followed in a typical UX Discovery Phase scenario:

  1. Study / Read / Understand
  2. Identification / Classification
  3. Recruitment
  4. Scheduling User Interviews
  5. Building Rapport
  6. Observations
  7. Gaining Insights
  8. Consolidated Analysis
  9. Planning UX Strategy
  10. Next Research Phase Journey

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Run Contextual Inquiry
  • Understanding the target audience
  • Competitive Analysis - Comparing with other companies/organizations
  • Investigate user experience hypotheses
  • Assumption Mapping - Validate initial user experience assumptions

(Resource reference - Bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/ux)

What Next?

Setting standards in the Post-Discovery phase, we are now well prepared with a clear vision for the future UX Research Process. We can begin the next phase in the Research phase series with great tenacity- The Empathy phase.

To learn more about the process of in-depth investigative Discovery Phase and other important phases in UX Research, please reach out to our dedicated UX Research Professionals at Radiant Digital.

 


Empathy That Goes Beyond User Experience Research

Empathy is an important human attribute to have in your personal and professional lives. But how does empathy work? And why is empathy a vital part of any user experience research?

In this blog, we explore what it means to incorporate empathy into your business life and how you can use empathy to become a better User Experience Researcher.

What is Empathy?

In practice, empathy can take many forms. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that empathy is the “action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Empathy is about understanding the people around you and responding with emotional intelligence. It is something that you can practice every day and never truly master because empathy will differ with every person you interact with. While it is important to bring empathy to your personal life, it is equally important to understand the role empathy can play in business environments.

Empathy in User Experience Research is All About

Empathy is a big part of User Experience Research because it is about seeing the problems and experiences through the eyes of the users’. It is not easy to accomplish, but if done correctly, this approach can produce extremely valuable information about your users. This data can then be used to help design teams make decisions that are informed by their product users’ needs, likes and dislikes.

When you operate with empathy at the forefront of your mind, you can dig deeper, learn more, and derive more valuable insights. The idea is not to simply solve a need; empathy in user experience is about fully enhancing user lives by taking away unnecessary barriers.

For example, you are building a website, and a quarter of your users are students who are dyslexic. How should you approach your UX design? Instead of designing a standard website and adding an extra font to cater to people with dyslexia, you should design with accessibility in mind right from the beginning.

Consider a range of options like the text to speech, speech recognition, and spell checker. Use your empathy skills to see from the perspectives of dyslexic people and see how your website can be improved to accommodate everyone.

How Can Empathy Enhance Our Daily Lives?

Empathy has tremendous power to enhance our daily lives. With empathy, we can connect to others at a deeper level and understand a variety of perspectives. We can relate to each other with more honesty and learn to be less judgemental. Some people learn empathy from an early age, and it becomes more than just a character trait; it is an integral part of who they are.

Empathy is powerful, and therefore it needs to be treated with caution. As with most things, it is all about balance. You need to have a healthy amount of empathy for those around you, but you also need to take care of yourself, or you will suffer from empathy burnout and fatigue.

If empathy doesn't come naturally to you, there are plenty of ways to develop your empathetic side. In an article by Clair Cain Miller in the New York Times, Miller suggested a number of ways people can improve their empathy:

  • Talk to New People: Instead of staring at your phone, start conversations with strangers while waiting in line, while on a train, or at the grocery store. Fully and actively listen. Be curious about people with different backgrounds than you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Get Involved With a Shared Cause: We are more alike than different. Volunteer and get involved with something that is close to your heart. In doing so, you will not only help yourself, but you will also learn about yourself and your capacity for empathy. Learn about all the different people involved in making a difference and join in.
  • Admit Your Biases: We all have biases. They are an innate aspect of our human nature. Acknowledge your biases and move forward with curiosity while actively working on avoiding making conclusions about people, places, and things around you through mental shortcuts.

Takeaways

You can learn plenty from making empathy a significant part of your daily business life. A team aware of the power of empathy will more often than not be able to work better together and create products that address real consumer issues.

Who knows? If you want to have a long and fruitful career in User Experience Research, you have to work on your empathy skills all the time actively. If empathy doesn’t come naturally, you can always test Claire Cain Miller’s suggestions and see what happens.

Ultimately, working on empathy beyond user experience research will make you more aware and appreciative of others. This will improve the way you live your life and the way you do your work. Why not give it a try?

To learn more about how empathy informs user experience research, please contact our UX experts.


Understand the Role of UX Personas in Digital Design

In the world of UX and design, a ‘Persona’ is the embodiment of a particular user type. If you work in user experience, you may want to create personas based on the research you’ve done into your customer base to understand who uses your service or product and who might use it in the future.

By creating personas, you will be able to understand your user’s experiences, desires, goals, and behaviors. In this blog, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about personas in design and how you can create your own engaging personas.


Personas in Design Thinking

As a designer, it can be quite easy sometimes to forget the big picture. You might become so consumed by the minutiae that you lose focus on the user. And the user is the most important part of any design process. How are you solving your users’ problems? How are you making their lives easier? What is the next step on the user journey?

These are the kinds of questions you can answer when you start creating personas. A persona will provide you with meaningful archetypes that will help you formulate your design development process. Then you can start asking the right questions and make the most of your customer base.

It is common for designers to start creating functional personas during the second phase, the ‘Define’ phase. In this phase of the design process, designers can synthesize their research from the first phase and start progressing with their large perspective on the end product. Using personas is one method that can allow designers to move easily from the ‘Define’ phase to the ‘Ideation’ phase. The personas will be the link and allow ideation sessions to be more focused and productive.

Different Perspectives on Personas

1.    Goal-Directed Personas

This perspective is pretty straightforward because it’s also about what your users want. “What will the typical user want to do with my product?” That’s the key question you want to be asking yourself if you’re interested in a goal-directed persona.

The objective of a goal-directed persona is to take a close look at the process and the workflow that your user is likely to use to achieve their goals. This perspective can help you discover whether there are design elements that hinder the overall flow of interacting with your product or service. This perspective helps you get right down to the nitty gritty and examine what really matters to your users.

Goal-directed personas are largely inspired by American software designer and programmer Alan Cooper who is recognized as the “Father of Visual Basic.”

2.    Engaging Personas

Approaching personas from an engaging perspective is about the ability of stories to produce connection, insight, and understanding. Humans have a great capacity for empathy when we are presented with a story. Through stores, it is possible to create vivid descriptions of fictitious people, things, and ideas.

The purpose of the engaging perspective is to use stories to help designers move beyond generic stereotypes and allow them to envision real personas interacting with their product, service, or site.

If you are struggling to understand a particular persona, you can adopt an engaging perspective to try to feel more connected with them.

3.    Fictional Personas

The fictional persona is about using your past experiences with your customer base to create a picture of what a typical user looks like today. This process will be based on assumptions, data, and personal experience. As a result, these kinds of personas can be quite flawed and may show you exactly what not to do. They can be used as an initial sketch and, after more research and data collection, can adapt over time.

4.    Role-Based Personas

A role-based perspective on personas is another way to help you focus on behavior. The personas that result from a role-based perspective are often driven by data from qualitative and quantitative sources.

Renowned computer researcher Jonathan Grudin and UX expert Tamara Adlin are both keen advocates of this approach to creating personas. By thinking about the roles users typically play in real life, designers can better understand their own roles. This perspective will also help teams make design decisions that encompass a variety of roles.

Steps to Creating Engaging Personas and Scenarios

  1. Collect targeted and relevant data
  2. Form a hypothesis
  3. Make sure everyone accepts the hypothesis
  4. Establish a number of personas
  5. Build and describe your personas
  6. Prepare situations for your personas
  7. Get acceptance from your organization
  8. Spread the knowledge
  9. Create valuable scenarios for your personas
  10. Make continuous ongoing adjustments

These few basic steps will help you create engaging personas that further your ideas and help you improve your design process. Each step is about getting to know your users and allowing your team to form a good idea of your audience.

Using Personas to Improve Design

Learning and exploring how personas function within design and UX will let you know how to get the most out of your team and your ideas. As well as engaging with the four different perspectives on personas and seeing where your view fits in, it’s worth following the steps we’ve laid out to help you create your personas and scenarios.

Please get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about the importance of personas in design and UX research.


Empathy Mapping - The First Step to Understanding the Problem

How do you understand your user? What role does empathy play in the world of design? And once you know more about your users, how do you use that data to inform your designs?

All of these questions are at the heart of the practice of empathy mapping. In this blog, we’ll be exploring what empathy mapping is and how it can help to improve UX design.

What is an Empathy Map?

An empathy map is a tool used by designers to understand and visualize user behavior. It is a simple tool capable of encompassing complex ideas, workflows, and patterns. Empathy maps can be used to work through concepts and to communicate findings to colleagues and other departments.

With an empathy map, you can unite a team under a shared understanding of a user base and start creating products and services that connect with people on a deep level. Dave Gray, the founder of the strategic design consultancy XPLANE, was the person that first had the idea to make empathy maps part of the design process, and this idea has caught on throughout the design world.

Gray envisioned that the empathy map would limit miscommunication and misunderstanding concerning users and target audiences. An empathy map should be the tool to visualize all the findings you receive from user research. It will allow designers to present data in an easily digestible format.

Ideally, it should take a designer no more than 20 minutes to create an empathy map on a whiteboard or a piece of paper. It’s a simple exercise that allows designers to gain a greater perspective on their user base, discover gaps in user research, and highlight the work that still needs to be done to understand the user entirely.

Best Practice Tips:

  • Fill out the Empathy Map
    • Review your research and fill out the four quadrants while asking yourself:
      • What did the user say?
      • What did the user do?
      • What did the user think
      • How did the user feel?
    • As you work your way around the map, you will get deeper and deeper into the psyche of your user. First, you recognize how they behave; then, you will dig into why they behave that way.
  • Synthesize Needs
    • What are your users’ needs? Remember, needs, in this context, should be verbs, not nouns. If you need help, use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to help you understand and define the needs of your users. Then write these all down.
  • Synthesize Insights
    • By exploring user actions and motivations and translating this information into a set of ‘needs,’ y’ will be able to draw various insights.
    • Often, insights can arise when you notice surprising or novel behavior.
    • Write down your insights.

Why Should You Use Empathy Maps?

 There are two key reasons why you should make empathy maps a regular part of your design process:

1. They help you to understand a user or persona:

The purpose of an empathy map is to understand the user. By understanding your users, you can make better designs and build more authentic relationships. An empathy map can help you categorize and appreciate qualitative research. Moreover, the mapping process will help you discover gaps in your knowledge and allow you to uncover hidden insights about your users.

2. They help you to communicate:

Once you have all this data about your user, what should you do with it? An empathy map is a concise and coherent way to communicate user attitudes and behaviors to people in your team and beyond. Designing anything complex, you will probably be working with various departments. An empathy map is a convenient shorthand to help you spread the message about who your users are and what they want.

Key Points to Remember

Empathy mapping is a practice that works best within a team environment. It will help you to understand the user and the thoughts of the designers within your team. You can look through the eyes of the user, empathize with their story and start creating.

Some of the key points to remember as you go on to create your empathy maps include:

  • Know your subject and decide on the scope of the empathy map.
  • Collect and simplify all relevant data.
  • Fill out your map logically.
  • Complete the outer sections of the map before moving on to the center sections.
  • Reflect on the content of the empathy map; what have you discovered?
  • Draw precise conclusions and use them to inform your designs.

Please get in touch with our UX experts to understand empathy mapping and its role in the design.


The Importance of Ideation in UX Research

UX research is a vital stage of the design process. In the world of digital design, research can be complex, wide-reaching, and very detailed. So, how do you ensure that your UX research is focused and purposeful? And what role does ideation play in the UX process? In this blog, we’ll answer all these questions and more.

What is Ideation?

Ideation is a creative process used by design departments around the world to allow teams to organically generate new and exciting ideas. There is a popular theory that suggests there are five phases to the “Design Thinking Process.”

As you can see, “Ideate” is the third stage of the design thinking process, following “Define” and preceding “Prototype”. While the “Define” stage is about finding links and patterns of insight to create a meaningful point of view, Ideation is about expanding on this point of view and coming up with workable ideas. Participants in this sort of design process are encouraged to be open-minded and produce as many ideas as possible to address the stated problem. There is no room for judgment at this stage.

The Characteristics of Ideation

Usually, there are three main characteristics to every ideation session:

       1. Ideas are not evaluated:

Freedom to think and speak is critical to the success of an ideation session. This means that all judgment is postponed until a later point in the design process. Ideation is all about getting the creative engine up and running. Too much evaluation can stifle creativity. Therefore it is important for ideation sessions to run free from evaluation.

       2. Collaboration encourages diverse ideas:

The group environment is key. Ideation cannot happen in isolation. In groups, you will be able to come up with a greater number and variety of design ideas. If you have an open group environment then this will allow everyone to share their ideas. This will also help to strengthen team dynamics and instill confidence throughout the group thus improving the chances of success for your designs.

     3. Everything is documented and preserved:

It is important that all ideas are recorded and the entire session is documented in a logical format. It should be easy for you to go back and see what ideas you came up with and how you generated those ideas. This can be done with pen and paper or in some digital format. When you document everything you ensure that no useful ideas will be forgotten. Moreover, if you have these ideas written on a whiteboard during the ideation session this can help to inspire further ideas. While these characteristics are important for a productive ideation session, don’t let them restrict you. Allow for a little flexibility and adapt your sessions to suit the strong points of your team and the focus of your project.

Why is Ideation Important?

Ideation helps to fuel innovation. Everyone is searching for that killer idea, that lightbulb moment. Ideation gives you a better chance of generating interesting and unique ideas because it encourages freedom, collaborative and proactive discussions.

The stronger your ideation stage is, the easier your prototyping and testing stages will be. This is because you will have already considered a wide range of problems and solutions before your product and service even interacts with consumers. Without ideation, a problem statement would merely remain a problem and never advance into anything productive.

When a team of designers set their collective energy and innovation to a problem, ideas can be generated at an extremely fast pace.

Some of the key benefits of using ideation in a design process include:

  • It helps to incorporate different elements of a variety of ideas together to address real user needs
  • It allows the design team to focus on user pain points and find appropriate solutions
  • Helps to refine ideas and combine a variety of perspectives
  • Allows everyone on the design team to spend time thinking creatively and without judgment. It gives the mind the time, space, and environment needed to think outside the box

Using Ideation in Your Design Process

Ideation is often the most exciting stage in a Design Thinking project. This is because during the ‘Ideation Phase’, the aim is to generate a large number of ideas that the team can then filter and cut down into the best, most practical, or most innovative solutions.

This approach is capable of inspiring new and better design solutions and products. There is the freedom to think and experiment and have fun. If you’re about to begin your design process or if you are already in the middle of creating a product, we’d recommend incorporating as much ideation as possible into your workflow. It’s bound to give you great results!

To learn more about the importance of ideation in UX research please get in touch with our UX experts.


The Ideal UX Process: UX Strategy vs UX Design

The role of user experience (UX) designers continues to broaden and encompass more responsibilities. There is often, therefore, a pressing need for UX strategies that provide well-defined goals, a logical roadmap, and helpful guidelines. So what comprises the ideal UX strategy? And how do the stages of UX strategy and UX design compare? First, let's take a brief look at how a typical UX process works and how strategy and design deliver a great final product. 

What is the UX process? 

The UX process is a collection of stages that any product, software, service, website, or app has to be ready and optimized for the end-user. The process can encompass everything from interface design to usability testing and can take a couple of weeks to a couple of years. Often the UX process will flow from one stage to another, e.g., from Research to Strategy to Design to Testing. Each step will help create, measure, and refine the user experience to ensure it is standard. 

What is UX design? 

UX design is the stage where the design team creates software, products, or services that provide users with a great experience. The design team aims to create something relevant and necessary that stands above the designs of their competitors. UX design will involve consideration of many aspects, including branding, function, usability, integration, and, most obviously, design. 

What is UX strategy? 

A UX strategy is a plan that sets how the UX team intends to refine and tailor the user's experience to ensure a satisfying outcome in line with the company's overall goals and objectives. UX strategy will usually occur after the research for the product, service, website, app, or software has been completed, but the designs have been built. The difference between UX design and UX strategy is their time during the UX process, the personnel used, and the objectives. The design stage becomes easier when you have a detailed and well-planned UX strategy.

When creating a UX strategy, team members will brainstorm, produce customer journey maps, develop wireframes, high-fidelity mockups, and conceptualize the user flow. A successful UX strategy will be the result of a combination of Human Elements (stakeholders, developers, engineers, and designers), Informational Elements (data, customer feedback, user interviews, and competitor research), and Desired Outcomes (design criteria, features, success metrics, and functionality).

What UX tools can you use to define UX strategy? 

Once you have an idea of how you want to pursue your UX strategy, you have to decide which tools you need to accomplish your tasks. Here is a list of the most common UX tools that can all be used to define a business-facing UX strategy:

Stakeholder interviews 

This can be the key to understanding everyone's needs. Stakeholder interviews allow you to determine the project's goals and consider all the relevant factors. 

User interviews

 User interviews will allow you to appreciate the impact of the user experience and enable teams to strategize in a way that considers a variety of users. You can follow an evaluative approach or inferential approach, and both will bring you one step close to understanding your user. 

Prototyping tools 

Prototyping tools will help clarify the UX requirements and maximize your UX process's design potential. These tools will help you delve into the details and emerge with a well-thought-through UX. 

Competitive analysis tool

Understand your competitor. A comprehensive competitive analysis tool that looks at your rival's products, websites, and software will ensure that you can gain a competitive edge. 

Google's HEART framework

This is a sophisticated tool for understanding and improving the UX of any product. HEART stands for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success. This helps teams approach UX from several angles and provides designers with several useful metrics for success. It has helped Google succeed, and many other companies will also benefit from implementing the framework. 

Sector expert interviews

 Gather as much relevant information from experts as possible. This is particularly helpful if designing a product, service, or software for an unfamiliar industry. 

Concept maps

 Visualize the UX team's models during the design process. Concept maps are a simple tool that can be relied on even when dealing with complex technical phases. These tools can form part of the UX process and help define a comprehensive UX strategy. Of course, the ideal UX process will differ from one company to the next, but using these kinds of tools will be expected throughout various successful UX teams. 

How do you create the ideal UX Process? Learn about UX strategy, why it's important, how it compares to UX Design, and the UX tools you can use to succeed. Get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about crafting the ideal UX process and how UX works at Radiant.