The UX-Product Development Overlap: What Are Their Roles And How They Function Together

There are many things to consider when developing a new product in our digital world. Costs, legacy mainframe modernization, and scalability are all concerns worth thinking about. Chief among them ought to be how well it serves the user. That’s where UX product design comes in. Learn everything you need to know about UX in product development. We will discover what UX is, what a UX designer does, and how UX overlaps with the rest of the design process.

What Does UX Stand For?

UX is shorthand for user experience. It’s used to describe parts of the product design journey. It asks questions like: 

  • How easy is the product to navigate? 
  • Does it do what’s promised? 
  • How does it make the user feel?

Developers thinking about UX create products that are functional and pleasing to use. There’s a lot of overlap with user interface (UI) considerations. Both UI and UX are there to develop a user experience that’s streamlined and delivers.

What Is a UX Designer?

A UX designer role includes thinking about the entirety of a user’s journey with a product. As such, their role overlaps with many other development teams. They are the linchpin that’s in place to ensure that any development decisions are made with the end user in mind.

Image sourced from careerfoundry.com

When working with experimental product design, UX designers are encouraged to use out-of-the-box thinking. It’s a role that requires a capacity for experimentation and innovation. Also, as there is so much overlap with other development teams, they must be able to collaborate. Thus, UX designers need good interpersonal skills and should possess an understanding of a whole host of disciplines.

The goal of a UX designer is to create a product that users feel good about. They want a product that delivers a customer experience that is easy, streamlined, and functional. The product should encourage users to come back for more. They do this by analyzing customer data so they know who their users are. They conduct research into the different ux components and its user base. They will try out multiple iterations of a product until it’s right.

The 5 steps of UX design

UX designers work in various ways, but their process can be boiled down to this 5 step journey. It’s better to think of it as more of a loop. When it comes to digital product design, UX is an ongoing process. This is the product development checklist for a UX designer:

  1. Research the product and target user base.
  2. Conduct analysis of data gathered during research to gain useful insights.
  3. Apply those insights when building a product wireframe that highlights core elements.
  4. Use the wireframe to create a usable prototype.
  5. Utilize user feedback to iterate on previous steps.

This process is undertaken by a single UX product designer. They give a development project an individual voice ensuring the user experience is well-served. It allows users to build a relationship with a product when it is designed with them at front and center. 

The Product Development Journey: Where Does UX Overlap?

The journey from inception to execution isn’t a straightforward one. There are steps forward and often steps back. It’s all in aid of creating the best possible product. UX designers collaborate at every stage. This is so the end product is one users feel gives them a great experience. Let’s examine the journey and how UX product designers fit in.

Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

Inception

Product design starts by identifying a problem that a product can solve. Developers with a germ of an idea should workshop it with various stakeholders. This process is known as product discovery. A central figure in these sessions should be a UX designer. 

Workshops help developers determine the feasibility of a project, its business goals, and customer demands. UX designers will be particularly useful when discussing the latter point. Their experience with research on previous projects will have provided them with valuable insights.

Making a plan

After solidifying the idea, it’s time to plan its execution. It involves establishing responsibilities, key performance indicators (KPIs), and efficient workflows. It is about organizing in a way that is as efficient as possible while delivering for the user. 

A UX product design strategy also includes planning the architecture of the product. UX designers help ensure that the architecture delivers a usable and functional experience. They can do this through UX sketching and creating wireframes.

Research

Developers must look at the data to determine how best to meet the user’s needs. This stage is about ensuring the product provides for a demand in the market. It is achieved by conducting market research as well as examining similar products.

Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

A UX designer will use this time to work out the real-world applications for the product. They will work out how to deliver a simple to use product. Part of the design thinking process is asking some questions:

  • Who will use this?
  • What does the product offer that alternatives do not?
  • Where does this product fit in user’s lives?
  • How will the product make users feel?

Common questions like these enable user experience designers to frame the application within the user’s day-to-day existence. The insight gained through this process helps them steer the project toward the best possible user experience. Research may reveal, for example, a need for usability with a software integration service. If users want it, the UX designer needs to try to make it happen.

Design & Prototype

Armed with a robust plan and insights gleaned from research data, it’s time to put it all into action. Various teams will have input into building a testable prototype. This can then be tested internally but also used to attain user feedback.

During building, UX designers are there to ensure an excellent user experience. They can try out innovative ideas that separate the product from the competition. After building a prototype, they can act on feedback from users. Testing digital products is the only way to get real-life user feedback. To UX designers, that data is a valuable resource. It gives them the information needed to iterate and innovate on later builds. 

User Interface design

Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

Once the fundamentals of an application are in place, it is time to add a lick of polish. Actually, that diminishes the importance of a good UX product design. It is about providing a pleasing look and feel for the user. This is the developer’s opportunity to stamp the product with their brand identity – vital for creating a good user relationship.

UX designers use their research and experience to ensure the UI delivers a great experience. They’re also there to check that UI elements don’t get in the way of a streamlined and simple application. The goal is to create a user experience that brings in additional users.

What’s the Value in UX Research?

It’s worth examining the UX research stage in more detail. Discovering what the user wants and needs is key to creating a successful product. Investing in good UX research leads to better outcomes. There are insights gained that can apply to every stage of the development process.

There are several ways in which to conduct research. UX designers can conduct interviews with target users, send surveys, and examine the competition.

These are all valuable sources of data. The best way for UX product designers to understand their target users is through observation. They watch the behaviors people exhibit in the real world to inform design decisions.

How UX designers use their research

After gathering the data, UX designers put their research to use. They use UX mapping to visualize the customer journey. This is something like an omnichannel customer journey map. It helps designers determine how a product affects the customer’s interaction with their brand. It enables them to ensure customer satisfaction. 

The data is used to create wireframes. These are used to visualize the key features and functions of an app. They’re a low-cost and fast way for UX designers to experiment during the early stages of product development. It’s a way to get more done by doing less. Once they’ve settled on the best wireframe, it can be used to build a prototype.

Image sourced from pmtips.net

How to help UX designers define their role

UX design is a varied pursuit. Practitioners may sometimes question where their roles end and another begins. Contact centers use call center wallboards to avoid this. Developers can use a responsibility-assignment matrix. This helps define how and when UX designers need to be involved during the development lifecycle. 

By using a chart, like the one above, roles can be better defined. It prevents UX designers from stepping on other specialists’ toes. It can also set out when they must partner with other roles. This is required to ensure the end-user experience is as good as it can be. Ultimately, this leads to a streamlined product development process. 

UX Designers Are a Vital Part of Product Development

Businesses that use a UX designer effectively create better products that serve their users. Those products help build a lasting and profitable relationship with customers. Using a UX product designer throughout the development process is an easy decision to make. Businesses just have to ensure the role is well defined.

Author Bio:

Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration with features like call tagging. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace has also written for domains such as Startups Magazine and Cybersecurity Insiders.