When users engage with a finished web product, what they are engaging with is the culmination of a design team’s efforts. From building the UX from its infancy to testing the end result, the workflow of the team is an unseen factor for users that can directly affect their ultimate experience.
But what exactly is the nature of the relationship between workflow and UX? Can the way web designers work really impact the overall experience?
Workflow may, in fact, be one of the most important determiners of UX outcomes. To understand why, explore the relationship between workflow and UX and how workflow can influence your results.
The relationship between workflow and UX
To better understand the impacts that workflow can have on the end-user experience, it first helps to know what we mean by workflow.
Put simply, workflow is the organization and execution of a project as it pertains to the workers involved. There are no real limits to how a task can get done, but web developers and UX designers typically follow some common patterns. These are some of the stages in the design workflow that most (if not all) productions touch on:
- User testing
At each of these five stages, the UX team collaborates to identify its findings, judge what’s important, and formulate ideal solutions. With every team, the process is likely to look a little different based on skill sets and managerial priorities, but at the end of the day, all workflows lead to some kind of finished product.
These days, designers typically utilize an agile framework for building their workflow. An agile design represents a commitment on the part of the design team to focus on “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” This means that the workflow is highly influenced by the needs of clients and users whose input is valued over a traditional method of completing a project.
Agility in a workflow is important when it comes to UX. With a team committed to working with those that will likely be a software platform or website’s end-users, needs can be addressed much earlier than they might from a workflow that puts most of its user engagement off till the last stage in the process.
Then again, a standardized workflow can also ensure that key elements of UX efficiency are not forgotten. No matter a design team’s approach, challenges and issues can arise. The workflow will determine where these challenges originate and ultimately how much easier they are to address.
Design teams have to consider the many impacts of their workflow to determine what framework works best for each project.
How workflow can impact user experience
There’s a lot an efficient workflow can do for UX. From improving accessibility and functionality to ensuring important items aren’t forgotten, the way you go about work plays a direct role in the outcomes of that work. As designers build their workflows from the discovery stage to user testing, they need frameworks to consider their audience and improve on features.
If a workflow is structured in a way that fails to accommodate these considerations, UX will suffer. Conversely, a thorough and well-planned workflow can bring flexibility and inclusivity to any design. When planning your workflow, consider these ways that your project framework can impact UX:
- Communication flow with clients and users. Workflow plays a key role in how well communication flows between the design team, clients, and users. By instituting a winning workflow, you can keep all parties on the same page to churn out a better experience from the end result. Consider using a workflow management system to add transparency and improve communication throughout the process.
- Access to tools and systems. Every design project comes with diverse needs and challenges. If your workflow is poorly optimized to give all parties access to the resources they need, your UX will suffer. Fortunately, comprehensive design systems can mitigate these challenges. Design systems can increase productivity at scale while empowering designers to create for their users, all through the power of standardized resources at every stage of the workflow. Such a system can take the inconsistency out of an agile approach to design.
- Efficiency of problem-solving and iteration. Finally, the effectiveness of any UX team will come down to their ability to problem-solve in a user-focused manner. Workflow can make all the difference here. Without access to feedback and interaction with target users throughout the workflow process, you are liable to iterate less effective platforms when it comes to UX. By crafting an agile workflow that brings in users, you can better address UX problems as they occur.
These are only a few of the ways workflow can impact a user experience. The truth, however, is that every aspect of the design process can change the direction of a project and ultimately affect the outcome for users. To maximize your workflow for UX potential, you need to practice a user-first design approach from the very beginning.
Practicing a UX-positive workflow
Every web-based design project has its unique UX hurdles. By practicing a UX-positive workflow, however, you can coordinate UX dream teams to great success — no matter the project. It all starts with your ability to harness an agile design approach to place users at the forefront of the design experience.
From there, you can use workflow management systems, communication platforms, and other design tools to restructure your process. A UX-positive workflow means engaging users with testing and feedback from the early stages, so keep the conservation going and be prepared with the tools you need to change directions should the need arise.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college, he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing are his favorites. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.