In this episode:
Interview – UX… What on earth is it?
With special guest – Paul Lacey
We talk to Paul Lacey and discuss with him what UI is. Both David and I work as independent freelancers and this means that we have a process that has worked for us over time. Paul however is part of a growing agency called DickieBirds and this means that he has to think about all this more than we do.
It’s a wide ranging discussion which might resonate with you if you are working with WordPress to create client sites. We know that other people who are really successful follow a whole bunch of processes which makes their life easier and makes their approach seem more professional. Heck, perhaps you do all of this stuff yourself and you’ve got the whole thing down to a fine art. Well, David and I have not, but Paul does, so he’s here to school us in what to do.
It’s about getting to know the client and getting a really meaningful understanding of who they are and what it is that they really need from you, the web designer. I’m terrible at this, but Paul’s all over ‘Personas’; working out who the people are that the website is trying to work for.
After that comes the ‘user journey’, which is a text based exploration of how the user will navigate through the website. There will be a whole bunch of these, trying to map out where the user might go and what they might do. It might be arrive on the site and put something in the cart, or it might be a six month journey which culminates in them signing up to your newsletter.
Then we’re on to the more fleshed-out, ‘flows / funnels’. This is more visual, drawn, way of showing to yourself and the client how you want the client to move through the website. It’s more impressive for the client than the user journey, because it’s really visual and shows how things are going to convert for them. It will also teach you if there are any road blocks that might stop the user in their tracks.
You can use all of the things that we discuss in this podcast to improve your own website. Create flows and funnels that will enable you to weed out some of the clients that you really don’t want to work with. Perhaps they don’t have the budget, or don’t have their project fully worked out. You could design a flow that displays your pricing to them so they know that your typical pricing is beyond their budget.
We also discuss how you present your websites (and the way that your website is going to work) back to the client. Perhaps you do a wireframe, or go straight to WordPress and install a very minimal theme which can give the client an idea of how they are going to interact with the site. Get the menus working, get the shopping cart working, but don’t spend any time at all on the way that it looks. Paul calls this ‘low fidelity’, and I think that this is one of the most valuable things that we discuss.
Then we do something that I basically never do, user testing. The idea is that you get real people to sit down and have a go at the website and you try to work out if the way that you intended to use it is in fact the way that they are using it. Perhaps that cool button that you put at the top is never seen by anyone, or that popup that leads to the form is never ever opened! So you work all of this out, adjust and move on.
Finally, the developer gets all of the data from all of the steps above and builds the complete, amazing, nothing-can-go-wrong website! Phew, easy right!
It’s a really interesting discussion which tells the story of how Paul’s agency scopes out the work during the website build.
Maybe you do all of this, perhaps you do a few! Whatever the case, there’s something to learn here for all of us. Go listen…
Paul’s notes for this podcast:
- Gather info/discovery
- Create user personas
- User Journeys
- Flows / Funnels
- Low fidelity prototype
- User testing (then back to the beginning until all problems solved)
- Design system: Library of assets and UI elements needed for the solution
- High fidelity prototype (very realistic prototype – visual brief for the creator of a solution)
- User testing (then back to beginning for any tweaks if in the UX, or back to the design system if it’s specifically the UI that is the problem)
- Create the solution
For a web designer, it can be quite different in that it would likely jump from UX straight to design & development as one thing, launch as MVP and then iterative tweaks based on feedback and gathered analytics / split testing etc.