This article offers seven UX-inspired answers to common software-related questions. Praxent’s lead designer, Nick Comito, offers businesses tested insights to their UX design questions.

UX design (user experience design) does exactly what the name promises –- it puts the user at the center of every design decision that goes into making an app or other digital product. Far more than just graphics and visuals, UX design is about strategy.

Strong UX design takes place behind the scenes. Its purpose is to solve problems so effectively that the user may not even notice there was a problem to begin with.

The Purpose of UX Design

Some of the most common software-related questions we get from businesses are actually UX design questions. Interestingly, most of the people asking those questions don’t even realize they are asking about UX. That’s how chameleon-like UX design is.

We wanted to bring these questions and answers to the surface, so we asked our lead UX designer, Nick Comito, for his insight on the UX answers to these seven common questions:

1. How do you know what kind of digital product to build? | UX Design Questions

Glad you asked! Asking this question is a really good start to avoiding projects that fail to generate a return. A significant amount of research goes into figuring out what to build. Follow this process to develop a product concept that you can be confident will pay off:

  • Start by identifying the major problem that the software is intending to fix.
  • Find the gap between where target users are and where they want to be. The gap represents untapped potential. Your digital product should bridge that gap, offering users a frictionless experience.
  • Conduct thorough user research. The results of your research will present a clear path forward.

>> Download our e-Book on why software projects fail and how to make sure yours doesn’t.

2. When faced with a choice of features, how do you know which ones to build? | UX Design Questions

If your design and development teams are working together in an agile fashion, you may not have every feature figured out from the start. As development progresses, it’s common to be faced with the challenge of prioritizing your options. But how do you know which features are most important? The answer is typically in the research. Look back at the initial user problem and product strategy. Dig deep into the context in which people will be using the product, and the best answer will present itself.

I’ll give an example. On a current project, we have two options for building an event confirmation function on an app for busy grocery store managers. The first option would send the store manager a text message asking them to confirm the event. The second option would remind the store manager to log in to their portal to confirm the event.

Our research on the user’s workflow, needs, and context reveals the answers to questions like “Will store managers have their phones on them? Will they be too busy to log in to the portal?” This is how we identify which option will work better for them.

3. Why do you only test with five users? | UX Design Questions

Usability tests don’t need to be complicated –- in fact they shouldn’t be. When you test with more than five users, you often don’t learn anything new.

Test results from a second user will overlap with results from the first, but will also likely provide some new information. A third test with a new user will have significant overlap with the first two, plus a small amount of new data. As you add more users, you learn less. Once you start testing more than five users, you’re just getting repeat data. You could even test with three, make significant changes, and use the same three people again.

In his article “Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users,” renowned UX researcher, Dr. Jakob Nielsen, explains the statistical support for doing multiple small tests with 5 users. Dr. Nielsen’s findings are definitely a relief to the budget-strapped!

While there is little difference between starting you project based on 5 or 50-person test results, the difference between building with no data and building with just a little data is significant. Developing a product without testing the concept first leads to almost certain doom.

>> Learn more about the scale of practical user research (and why you don’t have to spend thousands on focus groups).

4. Why do you need to interview stakeholders? | UX Design Questions

From the CEO commissioning the project to the employees who will be operating the new software, most businesses have multiple stakeholders in a software project.

Beyond interviewing the point of contact for a project, we interview stakeholders for the following reasons:

  • Develop a well-rounded understanding of the needs of the project by getting multiple perspectives
  • Instill company-wide support for the project by listening to every stakeholder
  • Gain understanding of additional goals and success criteria that we may otherwise miss
  • Identify potential red flags that should be discussed before committing to a concept

    5. How should we measure the success of a feature? | UX Design Questions

    Before you set out to design or develop, quantify the problem that you will be fixing. For example, if the problem is slow software, benchmark how long it takes users to accomplish important tasks, then define measurable success criteria based on how that should improve. In this instance, your success criteria could be to cut down the number of steps it takes to accomplish the task from 10 steps to only 5.

    Conduct user testing once you’ve attempted to fix the problem to ensure your solution actually reduces pain and frustration.

    6. How does design work with agile? | UX Design Questions

    UX design can work neatly with the agile process because both are designed to allow for more client input and create a stronger end product.

    Here is one way UX design can work with agile:

    1. User research
    2. Design a prototype and conduct usability testing
    3. Make changes to the prototype based on test results
    4. More usability testing
    5. Further changes to design
    6. Product development
    7. Agile development ensues

    As you add new features to the product, the process can be repeated from the top.

    7. What is the design process? | UX Design Questions

    The design process gives designers and developers guidelines for creating effective software solutions. It allows us to get at the root of the customer experience. Here is a basic design process:

    1. Build empathy
    2. Understand users
    3. Design the product or feature
    4. Test it
    5. Iterate

    UX design makes software holistically effective. Instead of merely designing a piece of software or an application that just looks good or is simply functional, teams invested in UX design are routinely identifying user problems and creating products that thoroughly and satisfactorily get jobs done.