Design is about more than making just a pretty website or app. In the immortal words of The Animals. Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; making a pretty product is very important – after all, everyone loves a little eye candy, right? But, ultimately, design is understanding your target market.
This includes the broad stuff that remains the same throughout the school of design, regardless of market and industry:
• How to create a logical flow;
• How to use gradients;
• Proper user of banners, bolding, italics & other eye catching tricks;
• How to use empty (or ‘Whitespace’ – read more about that here)
• Knowing which font to use; and
• Understanding how human intake, process, and comprehend information.
It also includes all that little stuff that changes from market to market, from culture to culture:
• What colors have cultural associations?
i.e. red and green mean a lot here in the US (stop/go) and should impact your design, but what about elsewhere in the world?
• Popular lingo (and unpopular);
• Manner and tone of content; and
• Understanding popular trends for your specific market.
Neither of the above lists are complete by any measure of the imagination, but it’s enough to give you an idea of the complexity associated with proper design. An old axiom among professional designers is that “everything is designed. Somethings are designed well.” This is just as true in the tech world as it is in the worlds of Fashion, Architecture, Furniture, and so on.
In Tech, smart design will make your product easier to use. In other words, good UX design lowers the “barrier to entry” that stands before every product/service and its clientele. Good design leads to:
• Increased conversions;
• Lower bounce rates;
• More engagement and re-engagement;
• Improved customer satisfaction; and
• Higher customer retention.
As a website design and development company (not to mention apps, custom software and everything in between!), we pride ourselves in utilizing the industry’s best practices. So let’s take a look at the SDI’s design process, from start to finish. When you’re done reading through this post, shoot over an email to our expert designers at firstname.lastname@example.org to get professional advice on your own designs!
Our process is intended to maximize user satisfaction through perfect optimization of the available design space. To that effect, the first step in the design process we take is to determine exactly what the product is supposed to accomplish. This means figuring out what it’s main function, a general idea of how it will accomplish that function, and the target audience. Our designers start here because it provides a touchstone for the entire design process. WIth the main functionality and process worked out, our designers can ensure that every step along the way conforms to this main purpose.
We break prototyping down into two different phases: wireframing and storyboarding. We start by creating a sketch of each different screen our app, software, or website will eventually have. This allows us to see how the individual screens of the website will visually play out and to anticipate problems before they occur. Storyboarding is basically putting all of your sketched wireframes next to one another. We do this so that we get an overall idea of the entire product cycle. Storyboarding lets us begin to design the user interface (UI) system and to set the stage for the overarching user experience (UX). Storyboarding and wireframing is also where we begin to play around with the use of color and layout schemes in order to get an idea of what will work best.
3. Interface Design
We typically design our UX through the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design process. Let’s look at website design as an example: MVC is an industry standard in because it creates most logical, clean, and seamless UX possible. The MVC approach divides an Website into 3 different partitions:
i. The model is what the Website does, its core functionality, and the rules by which the Website is guided;
ii. The view, where users request and view information; and
iii. The controller, which acts as a go-between for the model and the viewer.
Our approach to interface design is usually User-Centered (UCD), where a product is designed at every step with the needs of the end user in mind. This means the use of color, gradients, grid layouts, and even font are picked to answer the needs of our client’s target market. This is the kind of stuff you have to keep in mind if you want to build your own website!
4. Visual Design
Our main drive here is to design a website or app that tells the user how to navigate a Website without ever explicitly stating how to do so. This method, known as “eye-tracking,” is designed to guide the human eye through visual elements and stimuli. Colors colors can tell users draw or deflect attention, depending upon the designer’s intent. For instance, green indicates continuance, while red indicates full halt. We prefer colors that are simple and non-intrusive because they don’t fatigue the eye as much as complex colors. The less stressed the user’s eye is, the longer they will stay on your screen (i.e. increased engagement). We also make use of gradients in order to indicate the importance of a particular button – i.e. a brightly colored “proceed” button compared to a darker gradient “opt-out” button.
The best design is one that takes a process with which users are familiar and ever-so slightly tweaks it to make it better. This is preferred because users are already familiar with the old design; they know how it works and they know how to navigate within it. Wholly new processes take time to learn will result in user drop-off.
5. Testing and Launch
Once the design process is done and the coding finished, we test our product. And then we test it again and again. Through multiple testing iterations, we work out whether or not the design leads the user smoothly throughout the product, as well as any final coding issues.
We test our websites, apps and software not only in-house but also as part of a wider market initiative. Good design means testing your product on your actual market and then making it better based on user feedback. The best designs make use of color, visuals, a logical flow, and known systems to create the optimal UX.
6. Beyond Step 5
Design doesn’t end with testing and launch. A proper design continues on well beyond launch and never truly ends. In keeping with this mentality, SDI looks at:
a. How the object accomplishes the task for which it was designed;
b. What is the entire cycle of the project beyond the lab and test scenarios?
i. How does the design guide users through the website? Does it make sense?
ii. Is our Website logically designed?
iii. Does the layout make sense to the user?
This requires live feedback from potential customers and not in-house data. Design is the process by which an object is optimized for the user and not the designer. Understanding how a Website is used in the field leads to a better designed product and more money in the bank for you.
If you found this document helpful, please feel free to check out some of our other industry blogs, or you can just give our experts a call at 408.802.2885. As a tech design and development company based in Silicon Valley, we know our business, and we want to make your product a success. Contact us today to get 25% off!