A Beginner’s Guide to User Experience: UX Made Easy (Part II)

In our last post, Everydayhero’s lead Product Designer and Developer, Luke Brooker, shared some of the basics principles of User Experience (UX for short). In this second instalment, we explore some of the techniques and tools you’ll need to employ if you want to plan and create an awesome user experience of your own. As a not-for-profit marketer, there’s nothing more important than understanding your supporters’ needs and wants, because they are the key to fundraising success. That’s why UX shouldn’t just be the responsibility of your organisation’s digital or product team. The more you learn about UX, the more you’ll learn about your supporters – and that can only be a good thing. So whether you’re a total novice who just wants to understand the process better or you’re ready to begin your first UX project, this article is a pretty good place to start.

How to design a good user experience

The secret to designing great user experiences is allowing yourself plenty of planning time. In fact, the earlier you can start this process, the better, because you’re almost certainly not going to get it right first time. Most frameworks follow a cyclical process of insight-gathering and ideation, followed by a prototype and testing phase – after which, it happens all over again, until you’re at a point where you’ve solved any flaws and you’re completely satisfied. To put it in even simpler terms, the design process can be divided into three phases: understand, think and check.
  1. Understand. This is where we gather the critical insights into our users’ behaviour to get a better understanding of what they want.
  2. Think. Next, we use those insights to inform our thinking and ideate.
  3. Check. Finally, we put our theoretical ideas into action by building a prototype of our experience, then testing it. Have we done what we set out to do? Does it work as intended? Where could it be improved? We then take what we’ve learnt and apply it to the next iteration of the product.
In an ideal world, you’d always have ample time and budgets to devote to every step of the process, but in reality that’s often not the case – particularly if you’re working in the not-for-profit space. It’s important to remember that with UX, you don’t always need a rigorous process – as long as you follow the basic cycle.  If your time is limited, talking to your intended audience should nearly always be your first step. Once armed with that valuable intel, keep it available and front-of-mind throughout your planning process.

Learning the tools of the trade

For every step in the UX process described above, there are a large set of tools to choose from. Whether or not they’re right for your project depends on a range of factors, so it’s worth reading up on each technique to work out which are best suited to your needs. Here’s a cheat sheet outlining some of the best tools and techniques out there, many of which we use here at Everydayhero:

Three of the best ways to gather user insights

  1. Jobs to be done (JTBD) – a framework based on the idea that whenever users interact with a product, they do it in order to achieve a particular outcome or do a specific “job”. Develop a set of “jobs” for your product and you’ll have created for yourself a comprehensive list of your users’ needs.
  2. Guerrilla research – ideal for projects where time is limited, this is a more qualitative approach to insight gathering and involves testing your idea with real people, ideally in person. It’s a good option if you need to gather feedback quickly from a set of users who are actively engaged with a particular topic or product.  Another option is to use sites like usertesting.com which gives you instant access to users and provides video of them using your experience.
  3. Journey mapping – this is a method for visualising the process users go through when interacting with your product or experience, noting their needs and pain points along the way. It can help you identify issues and opportunities to inform the next phase of the process.

Three of the best ideation techniques

  1. 5 Whys. This problem-solving technique simply demands that when a problem occurs, you ask why, drilling down to the root cause by asking “why?” of each subsequent answer until you find the fix.
  2. “How might we…?”. Good brainstorming starts with optimistic, big picture thinking. Articulating your challenge or problem as a “how might we achieve x?” statement, rather than as “why is x a problem?” opens you up to out-of-the-box thinking and encourages you to be solution-focused.
  3. Pre-mortems. The flipside can also work too. A pre-mortem is a technique in which you review why your experience will fail before you actually go to market, in order to identify potential flaws and head them off at the pass.

Three of the best prototype and testing tools

  1. Storyboarding. A prototyping technique in which your user’s ‘story’ is told via a series of sequential moments in order to create a step-by-step visual representation of their experience. It’s important to include the emotional state of your user at each point in their story.
  2. Paper prototype. This involves translating what’s on screen into a series of simple paper sketches to mimic a digital interaction. It’s as low-tech as prototyping gets, but can be a really worthwhile process (particularly if budgets and time are limited.)
  3. Interactive prototype. If you’re seeking a more high-tech approach, a range of apps and software exist which are made specifically for building prototypes and which allow you to interact with your prototype in much the same way you would with a real app. You can even use Powerpoint or Keynote to create a prototype in this way by creating slides and using hyperlinks.
  Want to know more? Check out the following UX resources for some great further reading: