How User Experience (UX) Design Works

The key to UX design is user research.  This is the basis of product differentiation and staying ahead of the competition. You need to know what problem you are solving for consumers and what they are looking for in a solution.

Designing products involves repeating the five stages of design thinking until you can satisfy the customer with user-friendly products. UX design is the ultimate end goal while design thinking is the practical path to get there.

User Experience (UX)

UX is a very important principle of marketing, whether you have an in-house marketing team or you outsource to RSM Marketing. There are four goals that UX design strives for. These are usefulness, usability, accessibility, and user delight. Usefulness and usability are not the same. Another word for usefulness is utility. The product meets a need, and the consumer has a use for it. On the other hand, usability focuses on the ability or ease of using the product; it must be user-friendly.

Take the example of a tin opener. It has usefulness because the consumer can use it to open tins, which is something they need to do. But when choosing between the available brands of tin openers, the consumer will select one that has usability or functionality. It has features that make it easy to operate. Accessibility means that anyone can use it, for example, a child or an adult are both able to use the tin opener. There is no need to buy a second tin opener for children in the family to use. Finally, user delight means that the consumer derives pleasure from operating the tin opener. It looks and feels good and creates a positive emotional experience.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a user-centric process with five stages. It is used by UX designers because it leads designers in a constant cycle of repetition until the UX goal is realized. This involves repeated experiments, testing, modifications, or changes, always going back to the consumers’ needs. There is no point in researching what customers want if you drift away from that while designing the product. It often means going back to the drawing board and coming up with new ideas. Designers will return to phases they have already completed as necessitated by the UX goal.

The focus of design thinking is creating solutions with innovation and creativity, and not merely eliminating problems. The customer is at the center of the design.

Some skills that UX designers need if they are to undertake the five stages of design thinking are knowledge of information architecture, skills in prototyping and wireframing, the ability to conduct research, and coding. They must be adept at visual communication, analysis, and interaction design.

We look at the individual phases of design thinking next.


Designers will make use of quantitative and qualitative research to understand what consumers want and need, their attitudes towards the company and similar products, and their buying behaviors. They will develop a persona for the ideal audience they are targeting. This practice is opposed to aiming for all consumers and allows designers to home in on a specific group.

A user persona will include information such as age, occupation, family status, geographical location, and basic personality. The latter will measure their introvert/extrovert placement, and to what extent they are thinking versus feeling, use intuition versus sensing, and use judgment versus perception. It will examine their motivations socially, and based on fear, power, growth, and incentives. It lists what users want to avoid and what frustrates or pleases them. Finally, it looks at the media channels they use.

Empathy requires emotional intelligence to identify with the user persona.

Define The Need

The user need is defined in a problem statement. This must focus on the user and not the company. It is important to incorporate the wealth of information gleaned during research and the empathy phase.

The problem statement must be precise, yet inclusive. It is not about the steps the business must take to achieve its KPIs, for example, “We must increase technology sales by 20%”. It is user-centric, e.g., “Consumers need technology that is at the cutting edge to succeed in their careers”.


The design team generates as many ideas as possible. Nothing is excluded at this stage and designers are not concerned with size and budget issues. All ideas are examined through the lens of the ideal persona.


Prototypes are models, sketches, or digital forms of the best ideas. Certain features of the full design need to be incorporated into the models so that they can be comprehensively checked for problems and compared with other prototypes. This stage also involves assessing what could stand between the prototype and a ‘live, full-sized’ product. It must answer the problem statement.


More than one prototype may be created to test different aspects. If something doesn’t work, a new prototype will be designed; there is no limitation. Real-time data will be generated. Budget and scalability will be considered.

These phases will be iterated until the product meets the needs of the ideal persona.


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