A Comprehensive Guide To User Experience Design Processes

Roshni Shaikh


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Airbnb attributes its good UX to taking them from being a near-failure to being valued at $10 million.

A prominent eCommerce company increased sales by $300 million after changing they changed one of the button texts to “Continue” instead of “Register.”

ESPN saw a 35% increase in sales after they incorporated customer feedback into their homepage redesign.

Most potential customers drop out of the customer journey mid-way because of bad UX.

The only way to stand out in saturated markets with similar products and features is through good user experience.

88% of consumers are less likely to return to a website/app with bad UX.

Bad UX results in sluggish product/website adoption and quick abandonment.

One of the most common examples is the Internet Explorer web browser. Internet Explorer or today’s Microsoft Edge still works - it still searches the web. However, the users don’t adopt it as much as they do adopt browser tools like Google Chrome or Safari.

The biggest reason fully functional products fail in the market is because of the lack of UX.

And the biggest contributor to good UX is consistency in design.

Consistency in design reduces the user’s cognitive load. And therefore, makes the product enjoyable to use.

Consistency in design is saying that all the different parts of a product should match up and work together smoothly. It's like ensuring all the puzzle pieces fit perfectly to create a meaningful picture. It’s about making the UI look and behave the same way throughout to make the digital product feel cohesive. UX is about what the user feels after they use a digital product.

The most common UX recommendations I've made come from the typical interaction design principles - Keeping designs, buttons, interactions, and other interface design elements consistent.

- Zack Naylor, Design Leader
and Co-Founder of AureliusLab

What is User Experience Design Process

The User Experience (UX) design process typically involves the following stages:

  1. Research

  2. Analysis

  3. Design

  4. Prototyping

  5. Testing

  6. Refining

  7. Launch

  8. Evaluation

8 steps of the user experience design process infographic

1. Research

The first step in UX design is to understand the user type, goals, objectives, and needs. This involves research to gather information about the user's behavior, preferences, ideals, plans, and purpose.

The goal of UX design is to visualize the points of human-machine interaction that interrupt intuitive behavior.

Key stakeholders involved during the research stage

  1. UX Researchers: On a regular day, a UX researcher works to gather detailed information from users through both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
    They collect data through interviews, surveys, and other user testing methods and evaluate this data systematically.

  2. Business Analysts or Requirement Engineers: The business analyst works through all the stages of a product's life cycle. They deal with the process of developing and verifying the system requirements. They ensure that the information gathered and feedback obtained is coherent with the business objectives and the user’s goals.

  3. Designers: The UX designer's role is to take inputs from the UX researcher and apply the information to create a digital product that’s not only usable, but also enjoyable, and easily accessible.

    You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people.- Dieter Rams

  4. Customers: The voice of the customer becomes the primary input for the UX researcher. VoC or the voice of customer research is the process of gathering customers' experiences with a business. VoC research gives business insights into its product from the end user or the customers' perspective.

Key activities involved during the research stage

The 4 different types of UX research methods/activities during the UX design processesThe 4 different types of UX research methods/activities during the UX design processes

The key activities during the UX research phase involve:

  1. Conducting user interviews

  2. Creating user personas

  3. Conducting competition analysis

  4. Heuristic analysis

  5. Run surveys

  6. User behavior analysis

Essential outcomes of the research stage

  1. User needs are identified

  2. Business goals are defined and aligned with user needs

  3. Market segmentation is established

  4. Product alternatives are discovered

Tips for the research stage

During voice-of-customer interviews, the researcher generally asks a few questions and analyzes the answers. However, the outcome of this research depends on how well the researcher investigates the root cause of the user’s problems by forming and asking the right questions at the right time.

“As a researcher, it's our responsibility to drive the user to their actual problems,” says Yuliya Martinavichene, User Experience Researcher at Zinio

The point of the research stage is to amplify the usability of the digital product and minimize user friction in the process. Therefore, align your research goals to meet user needs first, and product goals next.

Usability plays a much wider role in our lives than most people realize. It's not just about using a website, a piece of software, or the latest technology. Usability impacts everyone every single day. It cuts across cultures, age, gender, and economic class. Usability is about setting up a tent easily, trying to figure out a tax form, driving an unfamiliar rental car!

- Thomas Tullis, User Experience Research Consultant, UX Metrics Geek

2. Analysis

The process of modeling the gathered requirements during research to refine the requirements into consistent and unambiguous user functions is called research analysis during the UX design process.

The data collected during research is analyzed to identify patterns, study trends, and highlight opportunities.

Key stakeholders and activities involved during the analysis stage

  1. UX Researcher: A UX researcher participates in the first phases of the design process. They empathize with the users to understand their needs and clarify the problems the user is looking to solve with the help of a digital product.

  2. Information Architects or Product Owners: They analyze research findings, create user scenarios, also known as user stories, and develop user flow diagrams.

  3. Business Analysts: Business Analysts work with developers to create a model plan to design the product.

  4. Developers: Developers receive a requirement analysis report which could then be used to conduct a Brown Paper Workshop to finalize product functions.

Essential outcomes of the analysis stage

At this point, business analysts share user needs documentation with the developers. This is also where design opportunities are identified and design constraints are discussed and addressed with possible alternative solutions.

3. Design

Good design is a language, not a style. ~ Massimo Vignelli

Based on the research and analysis, designers create user personas, user stories to clarify user functions, and wireframes to represent low-fidelity functional outlines.

This stage involves creating a two-dimensional blueprint for the user interface (UI) and defining the skeletal structure of the digital application or website.

Key stakeholders involved during the design stage

In this stage, visual designers, information architects, developers, and UX designers are involved. The outcome of the analysis stage is given to UX designers to convert UX goals into interactive design frames.

Design is the beauty of turning constraints into advantages.~ Aza Raskin

Key activities involved during the design stage

  1. Sketching

  2. Wireframing

  3. Creating High-fidelity Designs

  4. Prototyping

Essential outcomes of the design stage

User-centered designs, user-friendly interfaces, and establishing consistency in design throughout the prototyping models are achieved during this stage.

“The next big thing is the one that makes the last big thing usable.”

— Blake Ross, Co-creator of Mozilla Firefox

4. Prototyping

A prototype is created to test the design with the users. This stage is critical to identify any potential issues or challenges with the design before it's launched.

The end product of this stage is a set of relational wireframes that represent user stories at every user-UI touchpoint.

An example showing a set of mid-fidelity wireframes during the UX design processAn example showing a set of mid-fidelity wireframes

Generally, wireframes don’t include colors, images, or other design elements. Wireframes place the focus on persuading the reader to use the app by clicking next with the help of conversion copywriting.

Wireframes also include navigation menus and functional elements such as buttons, tabs, sliders, or forms. They are often created early in the design process to visualize the basic structure and functionality of a user interface before developing the end product with sophistication in design.

Wireframes can be created using software like Balsamiq or LucidChart or by hand using pen and paper.

Key stakeholders and activities involved during the prototyping stage

  1. UX Designers: To design the prototypes and wireframes. But this also takes several iterations. Software patches or new updates are released as and when user issues pop up.

  2. Developers: To implement the prototype designs and test their functionality

  3. Business Analysts: To communicate the requirements and validate the design frames

  4. Project Managers: Project managers ensure the above team members are working in synchronization with the user objectives and business goals. They ensure the designing, coding, integration, testing, and deployment happen smoothly.

Essential outcomes of the prototyping stage

A user-friendly product prototype that not only meets business goals but is also scalable through design. Testing the design in a live environment helps refine the product through user feedback.

high fidelity prototype example ux design processesAn example of a high-fidelity prototype in UX design processes

5. Testing: The difference between functional testing and UX testing

Once the prototype is created, it's evaluated and verified to see if the digital product does what it’s supposed to do. Testing helps troubleshoot a product, detect bugs, reduce developmental costs, and improve performance.

Let’s take an example of enterprise order management, a functional testing plan, and see where UX testing fits the bill.

“When creating a test plan, the first thing you should start with is defining the possible hurdles and roadblocks. Roadblocks could be anything - functional roadblocks, technical roadblocks, or UX roadblocks. For example, if environment maintenance is running, then it’s not the right time to test and that’s a technical roadblock. If a user is unable to perform a function because they’re confused about the system’s next steps, that becomes a UX hindrance. Considering all of these scenarios with the probable burdens, a test plan is created first and is approved by an IT architect, a project manager or an analyst depending on the hierarchy of the organization.”

- Moheb Shaik, Business Analyst Colruyt Group

To write a test plan for order management, assign roles and responsibilities by dividing the tasks, functions, and scenarios. This tells you who should test what.

For example, if you’re testing order management, someone is prepping the order, someone maintains the order, and someone communicates with the supplier. Find out who’s responsible for each of these activities in the process flow and include that in the plan. The next step is to gauge the testing estimates.

Once the test plan is ready, test scenarios are built. This involves:

  1. Testing different levels of user demands - In this case, what kind of orders can you place? There can be multiple types of orders. And for each type of order, you should have one test scenario.

    For example, in each order type, you can add certain types of articles: Article by weight, article by piece, or article by pack. This way, all the possibilities of a function are tested.

  2. Prepare a user journey map- The first decision a user takes is deciding what type of order a user wants to place. Let’s say that there are four different types of orders (COD, native cash, credit card, UPI, etc)

  3. Branch out - When you place an order, what kind of articles are being added? Write a use case of each article type under each order type. For each type of article, the system may behave differently. Therefore, considering all the scenarios in the process flow, use cases are written for testing. Each outcome of each of the branches is the various decisions a user may take/encounter.

  4. Map out the anomalies - What we mapped out until now is a happy flow system scenario. This is what we expect the system to do. But it’s normal to have expectations show up. Let’s say a user places an order. Everything goes smoothly. However, if the supplier’s contact details aren’t available in the system, the system shouldn’t hang or stun the user. The system should be able to handle these exceptions and still function. This is called designing the unhappy flow with abnormal, unexpected scenarios as well.

  5. Define the activities - First, we place an order - that’s one activity. Getting confirmation from the vendor is the next activity. Delivery planning comes next - it’s another activity. Likewise, defining each of the activities and branching them out into scenarios is a crucial step in the software testing life cycle.

The above process is called functional testing for order management.

Usability testing or UX testing is the process of testing the accessibility of the functions mentioned above.

UX testing follows functional testing and involves real users.

Usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.

- Usability.gov

Usability testing is a non-functional testing method that evaluates the “usable-ability” of the product. A website may be perfectly functional and pass the service test. However, it could be a UX disaster with usability roadblocks that make it hard for the user to use the product.

Key stakeholders involved during the testing stage

UX researchers participate during the testing phase to help validate and improve designs.

Software testers or someone from the quality assurance team writes use cases to identify flaws in the product, find the missing links in the requirements, and test the ability of the software to perform the tasks the end user intends to complete.

Key activities involved during the testing stage

The software testing lifecycle typically involves the following processes:

  1. Requirement gathering: Testers analyze both functional and non-functional requirements and pick testable use cases

  2. Test planning: A test plan document is prepared to state the objectives of the testing process. Possible risks are outlined, and time, role-based efforts, and other factors are estimated before finalizing the activities. The team then lists out the tools required to carry out the test plan.

  3. Test case development: Test case development includes defining a specific set of inputs, preconditions, expected outputs, and post-conditions of software or a digital product.

  4. Setting up testing ground: The testing ground is a hypothetical simulation of creating an environment that a typical user would use in the real world.

  5. Test execution: The process of executing the various test cases in a specific order and recording the actual results obtained for comparison with the expected results is called test execution. It’s typically performed by a testing team or a dedicated tester and is a critical phase in the software testing life cycle.

Check out this test plan template to help you craft your own plan:

Test plan template

Essential outcomes of the testing stage

The main outcome/deliverable in this stage is the test observation report that tells us what worked and what didn’t and helps identify points of opportunity.

“Good design humanizes technology”

6. Refining + Visual Copy/Design

Based on the findings inside the test observation report, changes are made to distill the design to improve its usability and user-friendliness.

“UI is the saddle, the stirrups, & the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”

— Dain Miller

UX is a combination of research, prototyping, testing, business analysis, test case modeling, project management, and the application of persuasion principles to enhance the usability of the product.

Persuasive copy and design go hand in hand. Persuasion strategists write clear and concise copy with a consistent tone of voice to complement the design of the wireframes or prototypes. Persuasive content strategists who are skilled in copywriting write copy that helps the users navigate the digital product, and use and troubleshoot user-interface products easily.

An example of good and bad UX copywritingAn example of good and bad UX copywriting

A sophisticated design is not the reason why users keep coming back to your website. The accessibility to the right information is.

When building websites, they also create practical page titles and navigation menu item names so users can intuitively access categorized information on various pages/screens.

Key stakeholders involved during the refining phase

Visual designers: They improve the aesthetics and usability of a digital product.

UX Copywriters: They write simple, effective, and helpful error messages to mitigate user frustration. Typical Deliverables involve persuasive copy integrated into the user interface.

7. Launch

Once the product’s been tested and approved for launch, an announcement is made to inform the users and stakeholders that the product is now available. This may include press releases, social media announcements, or email notifications.

User Onboarding: As users begin to interact with the product, it is essential to provide them with clear and concise instructions on how to use it effectively. This may involve providing a tutorial/demo, online documentation, or a knowledge base that explains how to use the product.

User Feedback and Iteration: User feedback on its features, functionality, and user experience is collated to continuously improve the product and make it more user-friendly.

8. Evaluation

Once the product is launched and adopted, the UX design team collects data and evaluates the design to identify areas of obstruction for the end users and ensure that the user's needs are being met.

Key stakeholders involved during the evaluation stage

The key stakeholders involved are:

  1. UX Researchers

  2. Business Analysts

  3. UX Designers

Key activities during the evaluation stage

  1. Usability Testing

  2. Metrics Analysis

  3. User Feedback Analysis through various channels including surveys, polls, NPS etc.

Essential outcomes

  1. Identification of design problems

  2. Understanding of user satisfaction

  3. Identification of design success


Most tech, even today, is complex to use for the average user. The usability of the product has a direct impact on the ROI of a product business. A user-centered design process during SDLC saves product development and management costs through early adoption, higher retention, and lesser churn rate.

Looking to build robust, user-centered software products? DevSquad helps businesses like yours ideate, streamline, launch, and optimize user-centered digital products. Learn more about our expert approach to design and development.

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