If you’re serious about building a website with high UX (user experience), you’ll need to talk to users. Otherwise you risk building a site that only solves your assumption of the problem. To achieve true UX design you need to consult with the people inside the organisation and out.

UX design? Talk to users

Here are some pointers on the model you could use, and the types of consultation, ideally, you need to hold.

Define the problem

The ‘double diamond’ flow method, of: DISCOVER, DEFINE, DEVELOP, DELIVER is a non-linear model used by designers, not just of websites, to discover and define the problem their design needs to solve.

The double diamond is a model made known by the British Design Council, and focuses very much on user experience, putting people first, and at the heart of the consultation, in order to understand their aspirations and wants.

Write out the problem

It sounds simple, but writing out the problem, as a challenge statement for you and your team can really help to keep you focused. The challenge statement can be changed as your discussions uncover other needs, but it must be agreed by the team and the client.

An example might be:

“Design a system that automatically updates hundreds of geographically spread travel agents with news and offers.”

A further iteration of this challenge statement, after discussion, could be:

“Design a system that automatically updates of hundreds of independent, geographically spread travel agents with news and offers, unique to them and their preferences.”

Validate the challenge

Once the challenge is agreed you need to understand the problem in more detail. You must keep in mind that you’ll have your own way of looking at things. The individual viewpoint will limit the solution and user-centric experience you’re aiming to build, so consultation is essential.

Internal interviews

Although it’s extremely valuable to interview internal staff about the system and what they see as the problems, beware the individual nature of the viewpoints given. The lack of group collaboration of individual interviews can present siloed viewpoints, but they still raise important points for you to take away and add into your team’s discussions.

Lightening talks

This is where you choose five or six internal staff, from different departments, say, marketing, sales, accounts, IT, admin, to give a five-minute presentation on the goals of the business, what the challenges are and any research to validate.

User interviews

Perhaps the most valuable interviews are those of the users themselves, or customers. Find out what their pain points are, what do they wish could be better, what do they enjoy about the process, what do they need more of, and if they had magical powers, what would be the one thing they would change.

Ethnographic research

Not forgetting existing data of what the ethnographic group of users require in life, make sure you use existing research, from good sources, about the wants, desires and motivations typical of the users’ ethnographic groups.

Take the learning

All the learning from all your consultation methods should be taken back to your team and put into your discussions of the potential solution to the challenge and any other related problems posed. From then on will follow your solutioning and designing.

Testing

Once you have a designed solution, you will need to test it with users and internal staff. If you don’t test, all of your consultation has really been for very little, since without testing you are simply relying on yours and your team’s assumptions. Testing will ensure you really have met the challenge and designed a solution to the problems posed.

Questions to ask during testing might be:

  • What do you like about the design/model? 
  • What do you dislike about the design/model? 
  • Any pain points, and are they the same as before? 
  • Did the flow of it work? Which parts worked, and which didn’t? 
  • What would you like to improve? 
  • Does it meet your needs? Which needs are left unmet?

Revisit and revise

Whatever comes out in testing will need revisiting and revising until the solution fits the bill, and meets the challenge.

UX design is an in-depth process, but the collaborative, consultative nature of DISCOVER, DEFINE, DEVELOP, DELIVER will ultimately help you to create a truly outstanding UX website that puts users at its heart.