What is UX Design?
UX design is a process that emphasises how users interact with and experience your product or service. As a discipline, UX is made up of several domains which entail different job scopes and roles, including:
Design Researcher: Performs primary and secondary research on user behaviours, needs and goals for the design of your product.
Interaction Designer: Defines how people will interact with your product, and how to elicit the desired user behaviour, responses, and outcomes.
Content Strategist/UX Writer: Defines how information should be structured, so that the content is easy to navigate.
Service Designer: Creates a seamless experience that meets the needs of your users by tying together human, digital, and physical interactions.
Why is UX Design Important?
User interaction with a product or service is affected by the user’s individual characteristics and the usage context. Therefore, a product or service has to serve different needs based on individual preferences and context.
For example, a smartphone navigation app will be useful for someone who is technology literate but not for someone who is technology illiterate. A good UX design also strives to meet the relevant user’s needs in their respective usage context.
UX design is thus important to help you create a product or service that is meaningful and impactful to your users.
Case Study: SupportGoWhere's (SGW) UX Design Process
A simple UX design process can be broken down into four steps:
Understand Your Users
Identify Usage Contexts
Anticipate Potential Problems
SGW is a platform for citizens to find and assess their eligibility for various support schemes. It is part of the GoWhere Suite of Government websites for COVID-19 related information. Here is an illustration of their UX design process:
1. Understand Your Users
The first step is to understand how citizens look for information about support schemes.
The SGW team did this using various tools such as Google Trends and Whole-of-Government Application Analytics (WOGAA). Google Trends helped the team to understand the terms that citizens were using when searching for support schemes, while WOGAA helped them understand SGW users’ demographics, such as the proportion of mobile users.
2. Identify Usage Contexts
After understanding their users, the SGW team next thought about how the platform should be used. Given that there are many support schemes, it would be useful to put them into categories. However, there are many ways to categorise the schemes. An important consideration that the team kept in mind was to avoid having too many categories. Categorisation is useful because it helps users narrow them schemes that are relevant to them, but having too many categories diminishes this usefulness. Other categorisation considerations include:
Schemes that belong to multiple categories
Categories for upcoming schemes
Possibility of sub-categories
After understanding your users and identifying usage contexts, the next step taken by the team was to test SGW. Testing can be done in many ways, but ideally, they should be done on the product or service’s target audience.
Through user testing, the team was able to identify flaws and improve SGW. For example, the team found that SGW’s Eligibility Checker delivered more refined results if it contained more questions. However, more questions also made the Eligibility Checker more tedious which resulted in more users failing to complete it.
4. Anticipate Potential Problems
User testing is meant to help you identify problems before your product or service’s official launch. However, some problems might be temporarily unresolvable due to a lack of resources or expertise. To avoid delaying your product or service’s launch date, it is possible to resolve such problems later.
This consideration is especially important for products or services that are urgently required. Indeed, the team had to launch SGW quickly to ensure that citizens can start applying and checking their eligibility for the various COVID-19 support schemes.
To avoid delaying SGW’s launch, the team anticipated various potential problems that they would like to address in the future, including:
Possible UX changes in response to new schemes.
Capability for UX design to handle large volume of schemes.
How to make SGW more inclusive and diverse.
Diversity and Inclusion in UX Design Research
Diversity and Inclusion are two important principles in UX design research. Diversity refers to the various ways that people differ from each other, while inclusion refers to giving a wide range of individuals an equal voice to express their opinions and the autonomy to participate in decision-making processes.
It is important for your UX design research to be diverse and inclusive because your users may have very different experiences and expectations with your product. A diverse and inclusive UX design research process ensures that your product is user-friendly for a wide range of users. A good example of a product with diverse and inclusive UX design is SG Enable’s website which has accessibility options like page contrast adjustments, keyboard navigation, and text size adjustments. These accessibility options ensure that people with varied visual needs do not face barriers when navigating SG Enable’s website.
|Common Challenges||Tips to Overcome them|
A common challenge when designing for diversity and inclusion is that the product team might have limited understanding of the users, which might consist of people from different cultures with unfamiliar customs. For example, the product team members might all be speakers of one language, but the users might include speakers of another language.
|One way to overcome the limited understanding challenge is to build your product team with diversity in mind. For example, a product team that includes speakers of multiple languages.
Alternatively, you can consult experts who have better understanding of your target user group. For example, working closely with a translator can be very helpful in overcoming language barriers and understanding cultural nuances, especially if the translator has in depth cultural knowledge of the user group.
Another common challenge is in engaging with the diverse group of users to collect meaningful data for the research. For example, the users might consist of individuals with very different technological know-how, education levels, and ages.
|To overcome this challenge, you can simplify the language used in your research activities as much as possible. For example, try to use simple and straightforward language that everyone can understand. You can also include visuals to help your users engage with the product more effectively.
Incorporating hands-on activities during your research process can complement verbal interview strategies as it allows users who are more reserved to voice their challenges by plotting out their own experiences. This allows the researcher to probe further based on what the users have mapped out.
Multiple communication mediums can also be considered to cater to different communication preferences. For example, having both email and phone contact or chat options allow both users who lack technology know-how and those more comfortable in conversing verbally to contact the product team.
Despite implementing the previous solutions, you might still encounter blind spots and fail to account for the needs of some groups.
|While there is no failproof method to avoid all blind spots, you can limit them by testing the product on users who are likely to encounter problems. Such testing enables you to come up with a comprehensive back up plan to further refine your research plan before rolling out to a wider group of audience.|
This article was adapted from Fala Sharil’s and Liren Tan’s sharing during the STACK-X UI/UX Design by the International Community Meetup on 15 Oct 2021.
Fala’s sharing covered the SupportGoWhere case study while Liren’s sharing covered the diversity and inclusion sections of this article.
Meet the Team!
Falaumaina Sharil, Senior UX Designer
Fala is a Senior UX Designer at GovTech's Government Digital Services. Her key design focus is to streamline citizen experience through digital products. Fala strives to create meaningful experiences for users, through a measurable, human-centered design approach. Besides designing, she is also invested in building up the UX team.
Liren Tan, UX Designer
Liren is a UX designer at GovTech and she drives user centric research to uncover insights to build digital solutions. She previously worked in the healthcare industry, and is passionate about using design to contribute and bring value to the social sector.
Last updated 21 February 2022
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