User experience design is more than just an industry buzzword - it’s a proven methodology that allows you to truly understand your website audience and build a system that delights and inspires them to take action.
A strong user experience, crafted through a solid UX design process, can act as a conduit for your brand and develop customer confidence.
Below you will find the five steps of the UX design process outlined to help you design exceptional website experiences for your business.
Step 1: Discovery
A strong foundation is crucial for the success of any website project regardless of the size of the endeavor. That’s why you need to kick off your user experience design journey with a planning phase.
This phase allows both internal and external stakeholders the opportunity to align on the goals and objectives of your website build or optimization project and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to defining success.
Get key players in a room and brainstorm on the following topics to get the ball rolling:
- What does success look like for each stakeholder?
- How will this project be measured (i.e., are we creating a website that needs to deliver leads? Do we have specific key performance indicators that we’re monitoring?)?
- What’s the timeline for this project? Are there any deadlines that need to be strictly adhered to?
- Are there any technical constraints that the team needs to be aware of?
- Do we need to adhere to any specific usability guidelines?
We also need to do some discovery work in this phase to understand the target audience of your website. We need to build a product that speaks to the wants and needs of your website visitors, while also conveying that you have a solution that will solve their problems and make their lives easier and/or better.
Ask yourselves the following:
- Who will be using this website?
- What are they looking for once they get to our site?
- What are the problems they are facing that would make them seek out your solution?
- What are their goals? How do they define their own success (and where do you tie in)?
- What events trigger the need for change?
- What kind of content do these people consume?
And remember, lead with empathy when thinking about your users and their specific buyer’s journeys. A successful user experience design process works to understand why users are behaving the way that they are on a website and then accommodates those findings (rather than trying to force users into behaving the way we want them to).
Step 2: Define
The first piece of the puzzle is understanding how your current website is working. Are users engaging with your website and taking the desired actions? Is the content featured still relevant to your users, your solutions, and your brand?
If you’re building a new website, we recommend setting some time aside to go through each page of your current website and marking whether these pages need to be kept on, or deleted from, the new site. Pages marked ‘keep’ also don’t need to be transferred over one-to-one - this just signified that the page content/direction is overarchingly headed in the right direction but may need some optimizing.
Refine (or Revamp) Your Sitemap
Next, it’s time to build out your sitemap. Even if you’re not overhauling your current website, building out a sitemap allows you to understand all of the pages you have within your website and their hierarchical relationships to one another. Look at each page listed in the sitemap and determine:
- The goal of the page
- Who the primary audience for this page is (this should be at least one of your personas from step 1!)
- What the primary and secondary actions should be
- What kind of content needs to be on the page to support the goal
This information provides you with the foundation of your content strategy for your new website or revamped page by informing you of the content and modules needed to successfully tell your story and build out a strong user journey.
Take a look at your main navigation as well during this phase. You want to ensure that your navigation is not only clear (i.e., it uses common terminology, doesn’t use language that could mean something different to different website visitors) but also allows users to quickly and easily find a path that’s right for them.
Wireframe Your Templates
Wireframes are the bones of your website and establish the fields and functionality needed on your template to convey your pre-defined content strategy.
Focus on the layout of the page you’re revamping - what’s the story you’re trying to tell to your website visitors and what action(s) do you want them to take?
It’s also important to align with your team on the fidelity of the wireframes your creating (there are three types!) so there are no surprises when it comes to presenting your updated strategy to the team. We often recommend utilizing medium-fidelity wireframes at this stage so that you’re able to map out both written and visual content more clearly and effectively.
Step 3: Design
This is typically everyone’s favorite part of the user experience process since this is the first time you’re really applying a ‘look and feel’ to the project at hand.
This step focuses on the usability and functionality of our wireframed page(s) in order to create a design that delights and engages the user. This design should also be reflective of your brand.
Start with your homepage and create one, cohesive design for your team to discuss. Walk key stakeholders through your rationale and remember to lean on common user experience design principles when making your case.
We recommend that you stick to one design concept at a time in order to prevent your website design from Frankensteining (i.e., combining two or more design concepts together to create one, not-to-cohesive template) and always keep your users at the forefront of your decision making.
Step 4: Develop & Launch
This stage is where it all comes together. While your development team is busy creating your new templates, your content team is putting the final touches on your page content to really drive your user experience work home.
Stage your new template and content before publishing it to production. This allows stakeholders to do some usability testing to ensure that the user experience of the new website or webpage is hitting the mark.
If you find that you’re confused by the way the website is working, chances are your visitors will be too. Make any final UX changes based on your findings and then you’ll be set to publish your website or webpage for the world to see!
Step 5: Analyze & Optimize
A UX designer’s work is never done! Now that your new website or webpage is launched, it’s time to monitor and adjust based on the data you’re collecting.
Remember those goals that were established in Step 1? Create a Google Analytics or HubSpot report based on those metrics to help you measure your performance and report back to your team on findings.
These findings not only help you better understand your website visitors and how they are interacting with your new site or website page but also enable you to make data-driven decisions and be proactive with your website optimizations.
And there you have it! By following these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating delightful website experiences that cater to your target audience and build the foundation for lasting client relationships.
Rider Gordon is the Lead Search and Paid Social Advertising Strategist at New Breed. In his free time, he likes to ski, fly fish and brew beer.