User Experiences & User Testing

The students from American University’s Master of Marketing program came to visit the WDG studio last week and chatted with our design team about our processes and expertise with user experience (UX) in design. UX is an incredibly important topic nowadays, especially as more businesses are focusing on their users, making UX such a hot buzzword in the web industry. I, along with our fearless leader, Ab, chatted with the group about the impact of user experience on today’s marketing efforts.

First, I wanted to make it absolutely clear that there is no such thing as a “UX phase” within a project’s lifecycle. The term gets dropped quite frequently, often only implying Information Architecture. At WDG, great UX is the ultimate goal. Each stage of our process incorporates many necessary steps to help ensure we reach our goal of a solid UX for our client. One step in particular carries so much weight that it took center stage during our discussion with the AU students. I figured it deserved a blog shout out as well.

USER TESTING IN THE UX PHASE

If we wanted to implement every step of the user-centered approach to design for optimal UX, we’d end up breaking every set budget and timeline. The challenge for designers is finding a sweet spot – where the necessary questions are asked, and steps are taken to result in a great final product.

A key part of the process, which often gets overlooked due to high cost, is the testing period. In an ideal wold, stakeholders would get the chance to interact with a working product to test any proposed interface. The designer would observe the interaction, identify pain points, collect feedback and make adjustments. The problem is that a fully interactive prototype, as nice as it may sound, has always been reserved for clients with deep pockets. Developing a prototype takes time, and development hours come with a hefty price tag.

A stack of wireframes, often in PDF format have been the closest thing to a prototype that a client would see. Hierarchy and content would be carefully evaluated, but interaction and user flow was impossible to predict effectively on a budget… until now.

Online tools such as InVision App have enabled designers to turn low fidelity wireframes into fully interactive prototypes without writing a single line of code. Clients add notes as they interact with the prototype. This enables designers and information architects to test early, get extremely quick feedback, and make adjustments instantly to perfect the interface.

Essentially, we are able to “launch” the product very early in the information architecture stage, make the necessary interaction tweaks until we get it right before we even think about visual design. With a much quicker rapid prototyping tool, we are able to really enhance UX and be extremely efficient with our time. In turn, clients are able to have their user testing and our team at WDG is able to deliver a stellar user-centered experience for our clients.

The Web Development Group (WDG) is a premier web design and development agency in the Washington, DC region. Focusing on building beautiful, effective user experiences on WordPress and Drupal, WDG has excelled in helping their clients grow exponentially and expand their reach online. To learn more about WDG’s process for user experiences, visit our services page, or contact us to chat about your next web project.

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