Know about Industry and Users
A design should be created to fulfill users’ needs. The first step of a design process is to understand requirements and users — to meet user and understand his behavior, his working environment, his likes and dislikes and his way of thinking.
A designer is not a user, neither he could be. He should not rely on his own assumptions and likes/dislikes while making design decisions.
“You’re almost always wrong about your users.” — Manik Rathee
Sometimes it feels very tempting to jump into the design stage without doing research about the user. This can be dangerous for the product and destroys its experience.
A good approach in the user-centered design process is to create user personas based on user information including his bio, skills, behaviors, and expertise. Refer to this persona many times while designing the product. This will help to follow the right track.
First of all, decide about your target market. Designing software tools can be done for healthcare, insurance, banking, real estate, art, agriculture, construction, education, and many other industries.
Know about these industries and the work being done there. Explore the scope of UX design in these industries. Nowadays, software projects/tools/apps are the need of every market.
“Target the right customers with the right message at the right time, and you just might have a shot at engaging them. But, if you do it correctly, you won’t engage those who don’t care or agree with the message. And that’s ok. It’s called targeting.”
Know about your target user — for whom you are going to design a project. The more you know about your user, the more you will be able to succeed.
UX designer role is much related to human psychology. He needs to understand human psyche in order to develop user flows and interactions. He should be able to predict the user’s actions while navigating through the design. Then he can put this information into papers and screens.
All this can be done based on designer’s knowledge about human behavior in general and specifically about his users.
There are different types of users know that is essential to gain before creating a design.
Demographic information gives a basic background of the user, and a designer can communicate with them effectively based on this information.
This includes age, gender, ethnicity, income, qualification, marital status etc.
Psychographic information helps to get a deeper understanding of user and their preferences.
This includes a pattern of living, thinking process, habits, hobbies, values, opinions, and beliefs, lifestyle etc.
This information makes it easier to refine the target user’s profile and directly impacts on making design decisions.
Parameters are interests and hobbies, products they use in past purchases, response to different products etc.
This information is important as users located in different geographic areas are going to see things differently and thus it influences the design decisions. Geographic information also impacts the psychographic and behavioral information of a user.
This includes the location of a user (e.g. country, state, region, city, suburb, postcode), culture and climate.
This information gives the designer an understanding of what type of lifestyle user lives and thus creating an effective design would be easier for him.
This includes personality, values, activities, interests and opinions (AIO).
All this information collectively helps to define your target users.
How to do this research?
The purpose of this research is to be clear about your target market and users. This will help you to define effective user personas and make design decisions for specific user types.
There are different ways to collect this information from potential users.
A quantitative research method where you prepare a number of questions and ask them from users. These surveys can be conducted online and help you to get an idea of user behavior.
A qualitative approach where you meet your user and talk to him. This method helps you to get in-depth knowledge of users and his everyday life.
An extensive observation of your user while working on a project is an essential key to become a UX designer. Meet them, talk to them and see their working environment. See how they live and what is important for them. Relate the problem to the daily life situations of your users and see how they handle them.
This helps you to discover their actual needs and the way they want to meet them. Collect your findings and now think of the design you want to build for them.
Do not make decisions without taking his opinion. Make him part of your design process. Own his problems. Learn from his complaints. Continue this learning process as users’ behavior and liking can always change. Only this way you will be able to make a product usable for him.