The User Experience Process or How to Make Jam
It’s a known fact that User Experience disciplines are getting more space in the IT industry and not only. As UX specialists, we often struggle to explain how important UX is, especially when we build a product from the very beginning. Sometimes when working with a client or in a team of developers and project managers they lack comprehension of what exactly we are doing. An interesting approach is to explain the UX process from a jam making point of view.
My name is Julian and I am a UX designer with over three years’ experience in the IT industry. I believe in storytelling techniques that help communicate complex things in an easy and interesting manner. From my point of view, the User Experience process is closely associated with the jam making process. As in any other process, there are steps that should be followed in order to achieve a result. We approach the same logic when building a good User Experience or creating a good jam. So let me explain how these two processes are connected.
1. Let’s see whom we are making the jam for
(or who are our users)
The first step in order to make sure we know what we’re about to boil, we need to understand who will be interested and enjoy our jam (product). Whether the jam will be for kids or for students or it will be for some special French restaurants. This requires quite a bit of research regarding what already exists on the market and what people prefer. After we decide to whom we dedicate this jam, we go and talk to them about their preferences regarding fruits, sweets, desserts and so on.
2. Collecting fruits
(or collect relevant information about the product)
At the point when we know exactly for whom we are preparing the jam, we go further in the garden to collect the right fruits (information). Our interest is to gather only those fruits that our friends (users) prefer, even if there are some other good and tasty fruits, we don’t touch them. We need to understand that we prepare a product that is not for our personal need, but for specific persons, so before taking the fruits to the factory we need to be sure that we have what we need.
3. Deposit the fruits
(or information architecture)
Once we bring the fruits to the factory, we need to sort and deposit them by priority. First, we want to decide what kind of fruits are more and less important. Also, it’s very important to understand that different types of fruits belong in different types of jams. And at the end of the depositing process, we can see if we’re missing some fruits or ingredients that would be helpful to craft a better jam.
4. It’s time to make the first jam test
(or draw the first wireframes and test them)
Before starting boiling the fruits and adding ingredients, we should get some more information about what the best tools are in the jam making industry. After we have enough insight about the process, we can start mixing the fruits for the first jam test. (or draw the first sketches)
Bring your friends, relatives and persons you think are close to the group of people you craft this jam for. When the first sample is ready, ask them to taste it. Be very patient with them and try to observe everything regarding their tasting experience. Ask them to describe how the jam tastes in terms of sweetness, texture, flavour, scent or colour. Your duty here is to take notes and observe the elements that they like or don’t like. (this is called first user testing)
After you had enough testing and tasting sessions, go back to the factory and make the changes your friends, relatives and persons asked for and then invite them once again to a more official tea time jam testing.
5. Create your jam packaging
(or create the user interface)
Once you made it and the jam you created is good enough, think about what kind of packaging you will choose for it. Will it be a glass jar of round or hexagonal shape? What colour will the jar have? What will be the name of your jam? Do you need a logo for it? Once you think about the logo, let’s go further. What kind of label will you use to put on your jar? Will it have some decorations? Will it be like an old fashioned jam jar? Or will it be in a different type of packaging? By answering these questions you will be able to imagine how your jam should look like as a finished product.
(or handover the UX to development)
At this point, you need to know your product very well and what it’s made of. After many tasting sessions and iterative improvements, you should be sure that your jam is ready to be put in production and can be shown to many other people. Starting from the main ingredients and finishing with the label colour, you need to know your product in order to provide the right information to the production people (development team) who will produce it on a larger scale.
Wait a minute, your job isn’t done yet. Even if your jam is on the shelves and you’re proud of it, there is plenty of work to do. Keep monitoring people’s thoughts about your product and based on them make improvements. Stay close to your users, listen to what they are saying and ask them about what they would love to see, taste and experience.
Keep improving your jam process.