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Creating successful user-centered digital experiences

Creating successful user-centered digital experiences
A guide for digital folk to create user-centric digital experiences and get designs over the line.

Published: 12 Sep, 2013

Creating successful user-centered digital experiences

The first question to ask when a digital platform or interface is to be designed, be it a Website or App - is: why, and for whom? Finding answers to these questions is the best way to get inside your customers' heads.

The customer is always number 1

User Centric Design

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To create a user-centered design, you need to look at:

  1. Customers you are targeting and;
  2. What they need to achieve.

It is easy for a marketing team to subjectively destroy a website, change colours, and add more of that 'WOW factor' that they are always going on about. This is a fundamental flaw when it comes to creating rich and efficient environments.

Develop User Personas and Customer Journeys

At the concept phase, even before sitemaps and wireframes, create personas of customers.

There may only be one, there may be five or six. No matter how many personas you can identify, when they are agreed upon, and the requirements and objectives for each becomes clearer, you have arrived at the perfect kick-off point for the best solution.

When you work with your clients to develop well-defined personas, you cut down on the backflow of trivial feedback because you can align your design goals to the personas. Simply having personas to cite will help stave off minor revisions that can slow the project down.

Information Architecture

Once you have identified personas you can start to consider the information architecture (IA) of the site, beginning with the sitemap.

It's important to have a sitemap signed off before so much as starting the wireframing phase.

Doing so will allow you to accurately assess how many ‘individual template pages' are required for the environments. This will allow for more accurate structures as well as design build time.

Wireframing/Prototyping

While the marketing team is still trying to 'get creative,' you're moving to the wireframing phase, which is the most crucial phase for any great design.

Without a good foundation, they will just be pretty designs with bad functionality and poor conversion rates.

Sketches are the perfect way to start the wireframing process. If you're unsure of what to do, or would like some client input to help you decide, sketching can help you pull together a cohesive structure to the screens.

Your sketches become wireframes and eventually prototypes (using products like Axure or InVision).

This fits into an approval process, allowing you to fall back on approved ideas, and charge more for additional changes at design or build phase.

Once the IA (or Wireframing) phase is complete, it's time to host a design workshop.

That's when it all comes down to creating awesome designs. That's the easy part especially with the previous steps taken into account. And, for designers, that's where the fun starts.

Set Expectations. Deliver Results.

From the homepage to all the other template pages, you can start early, sharing with the client and seeking approval to roll the project out.

This route will minimise trivial feedback and, if you have meaningfully collaborated with the clients, they begin to feel their input has been considered with IA, and will trust you to deliver their brand to the digital realm, and win sales in the process.