05.15.18

Worrell’s Lizz Wright on the Value of an Integrated User Experience and User Interface Design Process

Everyone seems to have a different understanding of what a User Experience (UX) Designer does. User Experience Design isn’t new, and it represents a variety of dimensions and methodologies. To provide some clarity on what the process looks like here at Worrell, we sat down with Lizz Wright, our UX Design Lead to discuss the value our capabilities provide for our clients.

UX and UI: What’s the Difference Anyway?

In the digital design community (think websites, mobile apps, or embedded software), the term UX Design is often used interchangeably with terms like “User Interface Design” (UI Design) and “Usability”, but there is a divide in the roles that UX and UI play within the design process. A good way to start differentiating UX and UI is by methodology.

Common UX practices include…
-User observation/shadowing
-Persona creation
-Information architecture & workflow mapping
-Wireframing
-Iterative user testing

…while UI disciplines typically cover
-Moodboarding
-Aesthetic design concepts
-Design language

Simply put – UI is how things look; UX is how things work. UX Design puts the end user’s needs at the center of the design and development process. It’s all about understanding and prioritizing those needs before, during, and after any interaction, a user has with a company, service or product.

 

UX/UI Design at Worrell

Our team at Worrell works in both the UX and UI spaces so there’s no disconnect from the wireframing stage to visual design – it’s the same team designing the structure and aesthetics – and we have the visibility and expertise that we keep in mind throughout the iterative design process. To do this, we hire visual designers with a knack for the detail-oriented and rigorous UX methodologies who are able to take a project from inception to execution.

Another considerable differentiator is our ability to design with the rigor working in the highly-regulated healthcare field requires. We have FDA-backed documentation to rely on and inform our design decisions (e.g. HE-75), along with 40 years of legacy in the product design space. While good UX is good UX, the stakes are so much higher for users in the healthcare space.

 

The UX Process in Practice

1. Discover

We begin each project by thoroughly exploring the context the interface will live in and understanding the end users who will Interact with it each and every day. In this Discover phase, it’s important to get a full picture of the various use cases that surround the digital interaction and where the product sits in the marketplace. These activities set the baseline that we can build and ideate on top of.

Key Activities:
-User research
-Competitive audit and heuristic analysis
-Personas
-Service blueprinting
-Workflow and journey mapping

2. Define

Here in the Define phase, we leverage everything we learned from the Discover activities to start on the frameworks that will form the basis of the interface. This work isn’t always the prettiest (visual design is coming soon!), but it is absolutely critical in creating a successful user experience. Think of this phase as the skeletal and muscular systems of the body – these activities are super critical to the operation of the system, and we make sure to thoroughly vet concepts to ensure they function as they should.

Key Activities:
-Information architecture
-Wireframing
-Low-fidelity prototyping
-Formative usability testing

3. Design

Now that the structure and format of the interface has been tested and vetted, visual design elements come into the mix. During this Design phase, we’ll work with any existing brand elements or create our own to explore how the application of a visual design layer impacts user preference and usability.

Key Activities:
-Mood boards
-Visual design
-High-fidelity prototyping
-Brand development
-Preference testing

4. Develop & Deliver

Clear directives for the implementation of the design is the final step in our UX process at Worrell. We take care to run through every use scenario so the assets we export are exhaustive, and can be referenced back to an interactive development specification and prototype for a seamless development handoff.

Key Activities:
-Full-system screen production
-Brand standard direction
-Design language documentation
-Asset and specification export for development

The True Value of UX

UX as a Catalyst for Behavior Change
A strong UX practice can help marry the human and technical sides of design and development by having a leg on each side of that dividing line. As a design discipline, UX is still firmly rooted in Human Centered Design principles which allow for the discovery of true use cases, consumer delights, and the psychology behind how and why people do the things they do. Understanding that, we’re able to layer on the lens of the UX practice as a rigorous methodology that has the power to direct and shape those actions, leading to long-term behavior change.

Regulatory and Usability
A clean and intuitive user interface improves usability for any medical device. Even if a device has all the required functions and a streamlined workflow defined by user research and testing, the day-to-day interaction with the interface is how we can really gauge the success of our design intervention. Documenting the reasoning behind a design of a medical device will help it pass through a team and regulatory submissions and approvals. Luckily for our clients, we work closely with our Human Factors Engineers to understand their needs, what the FDA looks for, and how to design and document for a successful submission.

Time and Money
While more time spent in the inspection and inspiration phases of the UX process may seem counterintuitive (“Hey! Where are my pretty designs?!”), they truly do save time and resources in the long run. Iterating, changing, and expanding the scope in these early portions of the process is far simpler for our designers to do rapidly.

We also find that the rough nature of black and white wireframes are so much easier for our clients to critique – When nothing seems final, you can really push the process and ask critical questions like “Is this direction really meeting our needs?” or “Oh man, I totally forgot about this feature. Where does it fit?”. These changes are simpler for us to make on the fly as designers, but are much, much more labor-intensive for development teams to make down the line while also driving up the cost.

Creating a Holistic Product Design Language
Consumers and users should be able to visually connect your physical product to your user interface. If your user interface is housed in different hardware or has a series of related feature sets across a product line, users should be able to complete a task easily and efficiently on all of the different product iterations. There is huge brand power in people recognizing a product as yours, and a big incentive to design an ecosystem of related products with killer outcomes and experiences.

Although the UX process might vary at different firms, at Worrell, we have found that a team skilled in UX and UI Design brings invaluable benefits to the product development process. The unique combination of technical knowledge coupled with human-centric design enables our team to tackle the challenges presented in healthcare and drive behavioral change that makes products and services truly successful.

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