Are you ready to dive into the final instalment of our UX 101 series? Our exciting UX blog is coming to a close, so let’s end it on a high note – the development and implementation stage!
In our previous posts, we've explored the basics of UX design, the importance of user research, and the different stages of the UX process. Now, it’s time to put all that UX research and refinement into effect with the development and implementation of your product. You might be thinking, "Oh no, not the technical stuff!" But fear not. We'll be sure to break it down in a way that's easy to understand and fun to execute.
To give a quick summary, UX development and implementation involves a combination of technical tasks, quality assurance, and ongoing maintenance to ensure the final product meets the needs of the user and works as intended. To give you a better insight into UX implementation, we’ll cover the four stages in this process: development, quality assurance, deployment, and maintenance.
Developers use different programming languages and tools to create the product, and they also test it for bugs and issues. Testing is important because it helps ensure the software or application works as intended. This is the stage where all the UX research, wireframes, and prototypes are brought to life in a way that allows people to use them for real! It all sounds very exciting, but where does the UX designer fall into this equation?
In some cases, the UX designer may be heavily involved in the development process, working closely with the developers to ensure its implementation matches the original design. This may involve providing guidance on the user interface (UI) design, reviewing the code to ensure it aligns with the design, and conducting user testing to ensure the product meets the user’s needs.
In other cases, the UX designer's involvement may be limited, with the development team taking the lead in the design's implementation. In this scenario, the UX designer may only be involved in the final quality assurance and user acceptance testing stages to ensure the product meets the user's needs and is aligned with the original design.
Really, there is no right or wrong way to split the responsibilities or workload at this stage, as every UX team works differently. However, to maximise efficiency in this development stage, there must be frequent communication between the UX design team and the programming teams during implementation, as Formation’s UX designer May To explains, “In my latest projects, I’ve worked closely with our technical developer and the product owner. We’ve had weekly sprint reviews to check every stage of our development.”
Overall, the level of involvement the UX designer has in the final stage of the development and implementation process depends on the organisation and the project. However, it’s essential for the UX designer to stay involved to some extent during development and implementation to ensure any design issues or challenges can be addressed in a timely manner and that the final product meets the needs of the user.
Quality assurance as a process is just how it sounds – assuring the quality of your product! Quality assurance involves running automated tests, as well as manual testing, to ensure the product meets requirements and standards, and there are no errors or bugs. This stage is all about identifying and resolving any issues before the product is released to users, which makes sense when you think about it. You can’t let a small malfunction ruin a user experience that you’ve spent months designing and refining!
Functional testing: This type of testing verifies the product functions as expected and meets the specified requirements.
Performance testing: This type of testing evaluates the product's performance under different conditions, such as under heavy loads or in different network configurations.
Usability testing: This type of testing evaluates the user experience and interface, ensuring the product is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Compatibility testing: This type of testing ensures the product works seamlessly on different platforms, browsers, and devices.
Security testing: This type of testing verifies the product is secure and highlights any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
You might think all this testing sounds way too thorough, even unnecessary, but in UX, it’s not worth taking any risks with this stage of development when you’re so close to the implementation of your final product. The QA tests will point out any defects in time for the development team to correct them, ensuring the product is stable and meets all the expected standards so you can launch it with confidence.
Nowhere else does ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ have as much meaning as in the deployment stage of UX. During the deployment process, the team ensures the product is fully functional, bug-free, and meets the required quality standards.
They also verify the product's performance is optimised and it is compatible with different devices, platforms, and browsers, ensuring everyone has access to your product. In a way, this stage determines the efficiency and success of the product during its release, a well-executed deployment ensures the product is delivered to the market seamlessly, and the user experience is top-notch.
Once the product is ready for deployment, the development team determines the best way to release it to the market. There are a few ways this can be done:
Rolling release: This approach involves gradually releasing the product to users over time to monitor its performance and fix any issues that arise.
Soft launch: This approach involves releasing the product to a limited number of users to test its performance before a full-scale launch.
Full launch: This approach involves releasing the product to the entire market at once.
During the launch process, the development team sometimes releases user guides, manuals, and other documentation to help users understand how to interact with the product. They may also conduct training sessions for the end-users to ensure they have a smooth onboarding experience. This type of support shows you care about your end-users and their user experience.
As you see, the deployment process is a key part of the Implementation stage of UX design. It’s when everything goes live, the hard work pays off, and you get to see people interacting with your product in the real world.
However, this is definitely not the end of the UX design journey…
Once the product is out there, you still need make sure it continues to be the best that it can be. The maintenance phase in UX is a commitment to continually develop and implement improvements to the user experience over your product’s lifetime. Just like tending a garden, this phase is crucial for keeping a product thriving and meeting users' evolving needs. It has two main areas: corrective maintenance and adaptive maintenance.
Corrective maintenance: Imagine spotting a bug in your shiny new product. You’d need to remove it as soon as possible so that your users can continue having a great user experience. At this point, the development team rushes in like skilled mechanics, swiftly fixing any issues to ensure the product continues to perform at its best through frequent checks and maintenance.
Adaptive Maintenance: Products must adapt to changing trends and user demands. In this aspect, the development team act as craftspeople, adding new features, improving existing ones, and enhancing the product’s overall performance.
During UX maintenance, user feedback is invaluable to ensure your users remain at the forefront of all your decision making. (You might’ve noticed this is the key theme throughout all our UX guides!) It’s common for businesses to roll out frequent UX surveys and carry out usability tests on any new features they develop or changes they implement after the initial deployment phase, even the small ones.
For example, wellbeing app Headspace continued to carry out user research even once the app was on the market. This allowed them to uncover new obstacles users were facing when using the meditation function that hadn’t come to light in previous tests. After thorough research, interviews, and competitive benchmarking, Headspace realised the app lacked real connection and inclusivity for people unfamiliar with meditation practice. Thanks to this, UX designers were able to develop and implement unique, friendly animations which communicated abstract ideas to new users, without intimidating them.
Ongoing research and usability testing are the best ways to continue improving your designs. From reviews to surveys and customer support tickets, you can continue to use these insights to prioritise future updates and make the product extraordinary.
And that, dear reader, brings us to the end of our UX adventure! We've explored every nook of this journey, from the inception and development of ideas to the final strokes of pixel-perfect design and implementation. But throughout it all, there has been one constant guiding star—the user.
Remember: the user is the ‘why’ of any UX design work. As you venture into your UX projects, always keep the user firmly in your sights. Embrace empathy, put yourselves in their shoes, and craft experiences that make their lives better, one click at a time.
The path to great UX is never a straight line. There are twists and turns, iteration, exploration, and occasional moments of self-doubt. Don't be discouraged when roadblocks appear; use the power of your research to shape digital experiences that leave a lasting impact.
At Formation, we specialise in creating interactive software that puts the user firmly at the heart of the experience. Get in touch to find out how our innovative design and UX services can connect you with your clients and keep them coming back.