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What does a client get from designers?

It’s not only about pretty screens 

But we do like creative thinking

Why carry out so many tests?

The questions

Instead of colourful designs, I get grey sketches

Preparation stage

Summary

In any social situation, before we meet somebody, we create a particular image of them in our mind. We imagine what they’re like, how they’ll behave and what we can expect from them. It’s the same story when meeting your team for the first time.

Today’s topic is the assumptions towards designers (UX/UI designers, in our case). Which ones are justified and which ones are just made-up stories? We’ll break down some myths and clarify what designers provide you with during the software development process. We’ll also talk about what they may expect from you, as a client in this collaboration. Ready?

It’s not only about pretty screens 

Let’s start with the most traditional myth that designers take part only in the creative stage of the process and are here to give you some illustrations. Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re present from the very early parts of collaboration. Think of us as your product consultants. In the course of the process, we’ll give you many bits of advice, but also we’ll put just as many things into question. We try to understand and define all the unknown, investigate problems and find solutions to them.

But we do like creative thinking

There’s always a workshop. In can be a simple conversation or a task, but this step is there. Why? To better get to know the business, product, its market as well as the problems and threats connected to it. The same applies to the research stage and testing – we do everything to learn as much as possible about the project.

Why carry out so many tests?

We always want to do tests, in any form. That’s why we ask for the product’s target users. Do you know who your potential customers are? Do you have access to them? Maybe you already talked to them and have a base of potential customers? If so, great. We can start our part of the research. If not, don’t worry, we’ll help you with it.

Why we insist on getting to know the target audience? During the project, we can learn from them and understand their needs. After all, these are the people who will use your product daily. You should get to know them.

The questions

They can be divided into two types – basic and advanced. The fundamental ones are asked at the beginning of the process and during the research stage. These are about company background, your business values, the product itself, its target users, the competition and finally, the design. Here, we ask about how would you like your product to look. Maybe you already have your brand book, or some vision about the designs. You can use it to provide us with some inspiration.

The advanced questions are used during the later stages of product development. That’s when we’re coming up with functionalities. Here, we try to pick up every possibility of action and every issue that may arise from it. We look at a solution from different angles and analyze it to get as much clarity about it as possible.

In short, these questions help us understand your idea and features. All of it to better suit its future users’ needs.

Instead of colourful designs, I get grey sketches

That’s an assumption that can cause a lot of confusion. Why do you get grey graphics? What are they? In short, they’re wireframes, which means they’re a kind of blueprint of a given product because you probably won’t get your final designs during the second meeting. It’s an iterative process. It takes time.

Now, let me show you how we come from the concept to the final project. Also, it’s worth noting that some of the stages are omitted, as they were already mentioned in previous blog posts. Here, we focus on the design part.

Preparation stage

After the initial meeting and all the questions we ask you about, we prepare one or two simple screens or a couple of mood boards. The mood boards are the extended versions of the first method. They usually consist of exemplary screens, illustrations, designs and colors in a similar theme. It’s to show how the digital product could look like. In both cases, we discuss the propositions, and you decide whether your vision coincides with them or not.

As you can see, it’s a research – test – adjust – repeat process from the very beginning. And there’s no way around it. Thanks to such approach, we prevent the situation that you reject the final product. We work together towards a common goal, which is the success of your idea.

Stage 1

As I mentioned before, we always carry out a workshop. During this stage, it’s all about the user story. Here, among other things, we perform competitor analysis. Thanks to doing workshop, we ensure that we all have the same product vision in mind. Figuring out user flow is the first step of our process. We create the plan of a digital product so that we can better understand what we’ll make.

Here, we can quickly and easily generate a map of the digital product without properly developing it. Thanks to that, we can see the connections between screens as well as the steps we have to take if we want to perform a given action. It also facilitates checking whether all the features are there. It’s a plan of the product in which we can re-arrange the hierarchy of information to make the product more user-friendly.

After workshop, when everything is established, we provide you with wireframes. These grey sketches that we show you are eventually transformed into a prototype. 

Stage 2

Once we have the prototype ready, we can conduct tests. We always try to do internal tests to check if everything is logical and intuitive. The feedback from usability testing helps us improve our idea and make all the necessary adjustments to the early product.

Stage 3

At this point, when everything is accepted, we can get to the actual work. Usually, we start with planning the screens and then, as we go on, we design one after another. We also consult these few designed screens with a client to get a final confirmation. During this stage, we begin to collaborate even closer with developers. As we prepared some of the components and screens ahead, it’s time for them to code them.

Stage 4

After the design phase, we carry on yet again tests – internal and external if possible. The latter ones are beneficial since they’re done with the target users. As the idea resembles the final product, we can gather even more insights about it. During our first tests, we check the logic of a product, while here, we make sure that everything is clear, accessible and easy-to-use. We also pay attention to the details that may have been overlooked in the previous tests, such as text size or low contrast. And once we’ve carried out the tests and made necessary adjustments, it’s time to create the final version of the product.

Summary

As you can see, a designer’s job requires empathy and an understanding of human needs. Moreover, our skills and individual abilities vary depending on the product. 

Different projects force us to show ourselves from the other side, to bring out our unique talents. That’s also when the expectations may change. But some things remain constant – the close collaboration, workshops, tests and getting to know our client’s business and the product’s target users. As we draw knowledge from our experience and the principles of design, as well as from conversations with users and tests, we always have one thing in mind. And that thing is your success.

Editor’s note: We’ve originally published this post in December 2020 and updated it for comprehensiveness.

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