09 Jul The 10 UX Deliverables Top Designers Use
The work of a UX designer happens in many different environments—from lean startups and Agile environments where teams work with little documentation to consulting engagements for third-parties, or large enterprises and government entities with strict documentation requirements. Regardless of the nature of the engagement or environment (and the one thing that ties it all together), is a need for UX professionals to effectively communicate their design ideas, research findings and the context of projects to a range of audiences.
During the UX design, process designers will produce a wide variety of “artifacts” and project deliverables as part of their UX design methodology. These may take many forms: deliverables help UX designers communicate with various stakeholders and teams, document work, and provide artifacts for meetings and ideation sessions. They also help create the “single source of truth” — guides and specifications for implementation and reference.
Here are the 10 UX deliverables a UX designer typically produces during an engagement. (This list is by no means comprehensive and may potentially be longer depending on the nature of the engagement.)
1. Business Goals and Technical Specifications
This is a fundamental step. For a UX professional it all starts with an understanding of the product vision, i.e. the reason for the product’s existence from a business perspective. Written in simple terms, the statement should include the problem being addressed, the proposed solution, and a general description of the target market. It should also describe the delivery platforms and touch lightly upon the technical means by which the product will be delivered.
It need not be longer than one page but should describe the core of the What, Why and How. Here is an example: “The Fantastic App Co. has identified a gap in gift-giving applications on mobile platforms for the Millennial market (iOS and Android). A large number of Millennials have trouble remembering special dates, identifying the best gift, then finding and buying those gifts. Our solution is designed to alleviate that stress. Employing anticipatory design and the latest AI technologies the App delivers a useful and almost magical user experience.”
2. Competitive Analysis Report
For anyone starting to design a new product, it’s vital to make sure it’s a good market fit. Crucially, as part of a UX strategy, the product must also have a compelling competitive advantage and a UX that is superior to others in the marketplace.
Competitive analysis means: “Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service.”
One of a UX designer’s initial tasks is to research what products or services the target customers are currently using to solve the problem. Is there an equivalent product or service out there? Is there an alternative solution people are using that’s good enough but not perfect? A Band-Aid—a vitamin but not a painkiller? How can better UX make a difference?
A component of user experience research, a competitive analysis report identifies the top five competitors and examines what it is they are doing right, as well as what they’re doing wrong. This step will help set a design direction where clear goals are defined and the elements to be focused on spelling out.
A Competitor List and Competitor Analysis Chart (by Chandan Mishra)
3. Personas and UX Research Reports
UX designers need to make sure stakeholders understand the needs of the product’s customers. Creating personas to encapsulate and communicate user behavior patterns and conducting user research are tried-and-true ways to do it. Personas are representative of a product’s typical users—by incorporating their goals, needs and interests, they help the team working on the project to develop empathy towards the user.
User research is also an integral component in the UX design process. It involves a range of techniques used to extract behavioral patterns, add context and give insight into the design process. There are many types of user research tools and techniques available—it’s all about choosing the right “lens” for the right situation.
Before embarking on user research, it’s important to take the time to develop a research plan. This is a document that will help communicate research aims and methods as well as get buy-in from stakeholders. It is also a great tool that can be used to help keep everyone on track during the research project.
At the conclusion of the user research phase, a report translating the research findings into actionable items is generated. The UX team is then set to design the product around those items.
4. Sitemap and Information Architecture
A sitemap is a visually organized model of all the components and information contained in a digital product. It represents the organization of an App or site’s content. Along with wireframes, they are one of the most fundamental of UX deliverables and rarely skipped in a UX design process.
Sitemaps help lay out the information architecture—the art and science of organizing and labeling a product’s components—to support navigation, findability and usability; they also help you define the taxonomy and user interface.
Sitemaps are handy references to have as a resource and adjust as the product evolves based on iterative prototyping and user testing. During the design workflow, a numbering system is often employed to keep everyone on the same page when discussing the product’s content.
A sitemap, representing information architecture
5. Experience Maps, User Journeys and User Flows
An experience map is a visual representation that illustrates a user’s flow within a product or service—their goals, needs, time spent, thoughts, feelings, reactions, anxieties, expectations—i.e. the overall experience throughout their interaction with a product. It’s typically laid out on a linear timeline showing touchpoints between the user and the product.
User journeys and user flows are more about a series of steps a user takes, and demonstrate the way users currently interact—or could potentially interact with a product. They demonstrate behavior, functionality and the key tasks a user might perform. By examining and understanding the “flow” of various tasks a user might undertake, you can start to think about what sort of content and functionalities to include in the user interface, and what kind of UI the user will need to accomplish them.
Much of UX is about solving problems for users. When crafting a user journey, the designer needs to understand the persona, the user’s goals, motivations, current pain points and the main tasks they want to achieve.
What’s the difference between a user journey and user flow? Think of a user flow as the user working on one task or goal via your product or service, e.g. booking a car on Lyft; a user journey illustrates the bigger picture. A user journey expands beyond tasks, and looks at how a particular customer interaction fits into a larger context.