From Wireframes to Prototypes. Why Does UX Research Matter?

Blog Post By:Alexandra Lavorato

Imagine creating something that nobody wants to use because you did not do your research. When creating a digital experience, the end user should be the top priority followed by business goals and objectives. Creating personas and mapping out the customer journey can provide great insight in the planning phase.

Conducting interviews, either in person or through prototype testing platforms, with your target audience enables you to gather valuable information that can help shape the wireframes and/or prototype. Focusing on the user’s primary needs and pain points allows you to plan accordingly.

UX research should continue beyond launch. Having the ability to test and respond quickly allows for a better user experience.

When working with a smaller budget, there are several resources available that contain general statistics on certain User Interface elements. These must be used with caution, and a backup plan should be set in place in case the assumptions are wrong.

Wireframes as Blueprints

Wireframes are the blueprint for the site. Location of certain elements are the main focus in a wireframe. Go through each page on your site, keeping in mind the target audience as the primary focus, followed by business goals and objectives as the secondary. This ensures the proper placement and the proper amount of attention a certain element receives. Additionally, decide what the final page should be for each target audience first, as this helps to align the goals of each previous page.

Allow yourself and your team time to brainstorm while in the wireframing process. Wireframes are a way to conceptualize how the site will ultimately function, not necessarily how it will look, so focus on the basics instead of colors, fonts and content.

The Prototype Approach & Why Prototype Testing Matters

Building a prototype allows for usability testing (and this is where the fun stuff, like colors, fonts, and content comes in!). Measurable goals should be outlined before testing. For example, if a business objective is to increase web to lead conversion rates, then ensure the prototype is capable of tracking this. Having a list of tasks for the user to complete is very helpful in this situation.

With a complete site redesign, some goals or user-oriented tasks may even be within site navigation to ensure the basic flow of the site is understandable. An example of this for a bank looking to grow their business with commercial clients might be: “Imagine you are the CFO of a business looking to open a money market fund. Navigate to the correct page, then describe in the box below what made this task simple or difficult to complete.”

Platforms like UserTesting and Validately allow for both screen recording and user comments, which mean you get more information about each task. If users are able to navigate to the correct page, but find it difficult to do so, it’s essential to understand why so you can go back to the drawing board and hopefully resolve that issue.

Both wireframing and prototype testing will allow for a much better customer journey once the site is launched. However, remember that UX research should continue beyond launch. Having the ability to test and respond quickly allows for a better user experience.

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