UX Design Sketching in 6 Easy Steps
As technology becomes more advanced and accessible, it has also become more commonplace.
By 2025, experts estimate that consumers will own and use an average of 15 connected devices, and by 2040, 95% of purchases will be made online.
With the demands of lockdowns and the new work from home environment, companies and employees have been forced to adopt and adapt to technologies or fail.
To keep up with this trend towards technology in nearly every facet of life, companies have begun to pay attention and implement better and more modern practices, which has led to a higher demand for UX designers.
Good UX design is essential to implement in nearly all aspects, from its website to its mobile app and any other software or technologies available for consumers.
But when it comes to UX, good design is not only about making things work well or look good but about creating an overall experience that is functional, welcoming, and innovative.
UX designers have difficulty navigating certain technologies, appealing to the desired audience, being unique and exciting, and being up-to-date and modern enough to be relevant.
Because of this, they must stay on the pulse of new technologies and have a creative mind ready to adapt them into new industries and capabilities while also understanding how to tap into users’ psychology.
This is anything but an easy task, which is why good UX designers are such a commodity.
However, with a few simple tips about the most important elements of UX design sketching, it can be significantly improved and better understood.
Step 1: The Problem
To become an expert, you must first be a novice. Thinking outside the box requires a foundational understanding of what that box entails and what its limits are.
That’s why UX designers must be experienced and knowledgeable about their industry and its trends, even if only to break those norms (check out some of the best UX designers in this Medium article).
The most prominent part of a UX designer’s job description is to be a problem-solver because they must acknowledge and combat any issues standing in the way of visitors becoming customers.
As they trailblaze into innovations and design elements, they must also experiment and test how these new tech iterations will work when they’ve never been tried before.
But this complex process starts with UX designers asking straightforward questions such as: What is the goal? Why are we doing what we’re doing (what is the purpose)? And what makes this practical design exciting for people?
These questions help define the concepts for the design and start to steer it in the right direction.
Step 2. Research
Designing without an understanding of what or who you’re planning for will lead to many mistakes.
That’s why it’s essential to explore the market while creating the initial concepts. This includes taking a look at the competition, understanding the audience, and researching the company itself.
What has worked before and what hasn’t? What have customers seemed to like or not liked in the past? What is the target demographic, and what do they desire or need?
A simple Google search can be an excellent place to start, but it should not be the only method for gathering information.
The best source will always be actual clients who can give a real insight into what customers need, desire, and expect.
You can achieve this by looking at data or, better yet, creating a prototype or test group to receive honest feedback.
If this isn’t possible, you can also analyse competitor apps to decipher strengths and weaknesses or get the help of a subject matter expert.
Using this data, you can even create a user persona that you can use to test ideas or provide insights about customers by simulating users’ behaviours.
A combination of these sources is often best to get the most well-rounded background. The more information, the better!
Step 3. Sketch and Analyse
Once a baseline has been established, it’s time to start sketching out ideas. Take the data available and look at it from different perspectives to formulate new ideas.
Adaptability, flexibility, and an open mind are vital to being a good designer.
While many other designs on the market can inspire, those concepts must be reformed and reshaped into something new.
This open-mindedness can quickly become overwhelming; it’s challenging to do something no one’s ever done before. But at the same time, it can be liberating. The sky’s the limit!
Even the craziest and most outlandish ideas are fair game when innovation is the name of the game!
Every idea should be considered at this point in the process, even if it might sound crazy at first.
This can help to inspire new ideas or hone in on key concepts that will eventually drive the final design.
Use scenario maps, sketches, lists of pros and cons, or other collaboration or brainstorming techniques to get all those ideas into one place and worry about sorting through them later.
This is where all that research and information from step 2, or the problem, begins to get solved.
If the question being asked in step 2 was “What do users need or what problems do they have?” Step 3 is about asking: “What can solve that issue?” This will define the user experience and the direction necessary for the design.
As these concepts are explored, go back to the initial information and research to see what would work best while also keeping in mind other budgetary or time constraints, given the parameters.
And what information is valid? As this list is narrowed down to more tangible ideas, they can be presented to others, such as stakeholders, whose feedback will then be implemented to shape the ideas further.
Step 4: Try and Try Again
As design concepts get nailed down, the time for actually designing and creating will begin. But this isn’t just a one-step process.
Rarely will a project move from concept to final product in one go. Since UX design sketching is about doing things that have never been done before, it often involves a lot of trial and error.
It’s essential to make sure a strategy works well for users before it hits the market. Although an idea may sound great in theory, it must be scrapped if it’s not functional.
Creating a prototype is a good way of testing design elements to make sure they work as they’re meant to.
You can also use them to test or present ideas to stakeholders and other company members for feedback. This can be as simple as a sketch or as high-tech as a fully fleshed-out and usable software system.
It all depends on what needs to be tested. It may even require several prototypes or iterations to get the desired outcome.
As you experiment, it’s essential to keep the purpose and audience in mind at all times so as not to get too lost in ideas.
A stakeholder’s opinion certainly matters when it comes to a design, but the user’s feedback will always win out when usability.
It may be that not everyone will get what they want, and it’s unlikely that the final product will be the same as the starting sketch. That’s why being open to new ideas and remaining flexible is so important.
Step 5: Refine and Develop
Now that the framework has been established, you must create an eye-catching exterior to embellish and add to the other elements.
The visual and more artistic pieces should work together with functional parts to create a whole unit. For example, placement should not be based simply on aesthetically pleasing but also on how users expect navigation to work.
Both back-end functionality and front-end aesthetics should work hand-in-hand to create a great result.
Like the developmental phase, the stylistic components of the design may need to be tested, researched, and adapted as required. This is where UX meets the user interface (UI).
Although some designers understand both UX and UI, not everyone does. However, having a team of those who can handle both will ensure that the final product is visually creative and works well.
A beautiful design without substance isn’t handy, but a boring plan that works superbly won’t get much attention, either.
Step 6. Final Assessment
Once a design is both functional and beautiful, it may seem that the project is finished, but there’s one final step that you must take to ensure it’s ready to hit the market.
A final assessment of user experience, functionality, and quality is necessary. Although you may have tested elements in the past, this evaluation looks at the design as a whole.
It makes sure all of the components work together in harmony to create a successful overall experience.
This is the final checkpoint for quality control to make sure the design has no errors or mistakes and that nothing has been muddled, changed, or messed up by adding the other parts of the invention.
This step can be done by testing with users, working through the design with the team, or presenting it to other people in the company for feedback.
Some last-minute fixes may need to be made to ensure the design is in tip-top shape for launch.
This process phase could be quick and straightforward or could take some time depending on what people think or how the design looks. Have patience and strive for perfection.
It’s essential to ensure the design is as it should be before users experience it for the first time, as first impressions can make all the difference.
When to Launch
After these six steps are complete, the design should be ready for the public eye.
But that doesn’t mean it’s finished. UX design sketching is an art and a work in progress.
Even with the most thorough testing and the best design team, there will be changes that will need to be made, errors that you could fix, or things that you could make better.
Some of these things will be impossible to know until users get their hands on the design and begin experimenting and experiencing it.
No matter how thorough planning was ahead of time, this process stage often comes with surprises. But this can lead to exciting opportunities. With each update and new release, the design will evolve.
Listening to customers is the best way to learn and adapt a design to make it better. Read reviewers, listen to requests, and see what customers’ criticisms are.
Track how the plan does by gathering data and paying attention to the market to know where to go and how to get better.
The work done in the initial six steps of UX design sketching will be the foundation for these later successes and set a path for achieving great things.
If a strong baseline is built, these changes will be easy and only enhance what was already there if the initial purpose is always kept in mind.