Thousands of new software products are released every day. They serve a wide range of purposes and are used by millions all over the globe. The success of each software product depends directly on how easy it is to handle it, i.e. it’s user-friendliness or lack of thereof. There needs to be a good level of interaction between the user and the new environment of the software product, otherwise, the user won’t have a positive perception of the product and how it works.

The importance of User Experience (UX)

By making the User Experience (UX) a positive experience, the users will undoubtedly be happy with the product and they will be looking forward to new potential developments and updates, in other words, they will become loyal to the product. If on the other hand, the user experience is not pleasant, that will foster a negative image, causing the users to stop using the software product. But that doesn’t end there, unsatisfied customers are unlikely to return, even if the cause for concern has been eliminated. Not to mention that they will likely recommend against it to their friends and family, or perhaps even online on forums and blogs, where thousands can read their opinion. 

A desk of a designer displaying on their laptop prototypes.

Difference between UX and UI

One of the common mistakes is to confuse UX with UI (user interface) design. UI is the best ally of UX, but keep in mind that UI is focused on the design side of things, such as typography, color, and shape – all elements that make the visual experience of the software. However, one application can be very well designed, but if it doesn't meet the user's needs, objectives, expectations, and capabilities, the software will not be useful, and people would avoid it.

We sometimes tend to isolate the design from the process of development, as if the aesthetic aspect of software development can be managed independently. This wrong assumption motivated me to write this blog post. It just doesn’t work like that and in this article, I will show the importance of integrating UX throughout the development process. Everybody who is involved in development should be looking at the potential product from a UX perspective the whole time.

A sketch featuring three distinct web pages with different layouts.

UX Design

Companies nowadays use software for multiple purposes – including customer interaction, or even to facilitate certain aspects of their employees’ work. Executives know full well that it’s not just the functionality of the software that matters, it is also important to employ a user-friendly product that offers an enjoyable experience as this basically drives their business forward.

The involvement of the UX designer in the development process depends on the company culture and its understanding of the importance of the UX for the product.

As we already mentioned that it is common to associate UX with UI, but that might cause you to overlook some of the most important aspects of UX design like research, psychology, copywriting and analysis.

UX designers use qualitative and quantitative methods to get to know the end users and understand how they think and react. For that purpose, it is essential to analyze, understand and assess their attitudes and behavior. So, let's start with questions such as, what kind of users are our target audience? What is their experience with this kind of software? What are they expecting? How can they engage with the product? The answers to these questions are valuable data that needs to be analyzed in order to create a good UX strategy, that includes the UI part as well.

A laptop with a design prototype on a it.

Integrating the UX process into the agile SDLC

Smart companies normally integrate the UX process into the agile software development lifecycle (SDLC). How? It’s simple, you’ll need to follow few steps.  

Before starting with the design, the UX designer needs to do some user research. With the user analysis, it will be easier to determine what the product should be like, which in turn makes it easier to define the product conceptualization and the estimation. In other words, the designer has to provide a basis for the developers, in order to ensure from the very beginning, that the product can and will be both functional and usable.

UX designers should also rely on Agile methodology, using iterations in order to get feedback from the users, and evaluate the usability features as soon as possible. If we want to sync the design with the development team, then the most helpful method is for the designers to be one sprint ahead. So, they can evaluate and discuss the design and development features at the same time. If there are some changes that need to be done during the development process, the UX designer must provide a solution for this form a user perspective.

Saves Time And Money While Improving Quality

If the designer solves an issue in the design stage it will cost you $1, if you wait to solve the problem during the development stage it will cost you $10, but if the problem persists after the release it may cost you more than $100 to fix it. Hopes this example puts things into perspective.  

So, we reach the conclusion that if we include the UX designer in the SDLC from the very beginning, the company and the client can save time and money and get a truly user-centered product in the end.

Planning and designing on a laptop and a desk monitor.

Here’s a bit of new school wisdom – every buck spent on UX can bring you up to $100 in revenue.

  1. Better UX can increase the conversion rate and revenue
  2. Better UX can lower development time
  3. Better UX can increase user retention and brand loyalty
  4. Better UX can provide higher efficiency of the product with less support

Although it is not common, having a UX designer involved in the QA team puts you one step ahead. The QA Engineers identify errors or bugs in the code, but they not always can test the UI/UX, that’s the domain of the UX designer, they are the experts in this area. After the launch of the product, there is a maintenance stage, where developers and QAs continue to work together. As technology rapidly changes, functionality and usability expectations are evolving as well, that's why the UX designer needs to be included in this stage in order to refine and update the product.

In conclusion, the integration of the UX designers in the SDLC adds customer value. It ensures that the product is being developed in accordance with the needs and expectations of the users at all levels and stages. It can boost the performance of the development team and avoid spending unnecessary time and effort, or to put it in financial terms – it helps you cut costs. At the same time, it also helps you deliver a loveable high-quality product with a much higher degree of customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.