Ask any user experience (UX) designer and they’ll be the first to tell you: there’s a lot of ambiguity surrounding their role and the UX design process. Across the industry, people have very different ways of defining and approaching it. There are also many factors to consider that can change the direction of the process: Are you focusing on UX, user interface (UI), or both? (Some consider them the same; others say they are significantly different. See what we mean about ambiguity?) Is it for a B2C or a B2B company? A large organization or a startup?
We know you have questions—which is why we’re happy to share the product design UX process we’ve refined over time. Instead of just checking off boxes on a standard UX design to-do list—and wasting valuable time and money in the process—we started taking advantage of our design sprint process to validate assumptions and really hone in on specific user problems. We’ve found that this approach to the UX design process leads to better results in significantly less time. This article covers our UX design process for B2B startups, step by step.
While it varies from company to company, the basic UX design process follows this model:
Because user experience design is all about identifying and meeting the needs of the user, the research, empathize, and test stages are particularly important—and often require a significant amount of upfront work before anything is designed.
B2C Vs. B2B UX Design: What’s The Difference?
While the overall process is similar, there are a few key differences to keep in mind regarding the UX design process for B2B startups vs. B2C companies. When designing a digital product for a B2C company, the UI is very important. Because B2C customers typically care most about a sleek appearance and ease of use, it’s important for designers to stay current on modern design trends to ensure products are consistent with the look and feel users expect.
On the other hand, B2B customers look for tools that create efficiencies and allow them to make business decisions backed by ROI and clean data. When designing for B2B, it’s important to consider how data is visualized in dashboards and how quickly users can access that data. However, B2B products still need to have a sleek UI and great UX to keep users coming back—if the product pleases users and performs, they won’t look for other solutions.
The product design UX process requires a lot of upfront user research, data analysis, and strategic planning—all of which can take months and blow through a project budget before it even enters development. This stage of the UX design process usually includes several very ambiguous, abstract activities that often prove to be an inefficient use of time and money.
While that approach may work for a large enterprise, it’s neither viable nor effective for the B2B startups we partner with at Checkmate Digital. But you have to truly understand the target user to design a product they love, right? We’ll walk you through our own step-by-step UX design process, which we feel is a much more efficient way to validate whether or not a concept is working—before investing countless dollars and hours to bring it to life.
Instead of spending months on user research and prep work, a lot of our UX strategy is encompassed in our design sprint process. We’ve found that a lot of the same prep work can be accomplished during the five-day design sprint, which forces key stakeholders to follow a rigorous, structured series of design thinking exercises in order to achieve very specific goals. This is essentially a more concise, refined way of achieving higher ROI in a shorter amount of time than what’s accomplished following a more traditional UX strategy.
The first step in our UX design process is to identify everyone who will use (or is currently using) the product. Then, we decide which of these people has the biggest influence over the product or problem we’re trying to solve for. We consider each of these details about the user while working on product direction and visual design:
Before we start the design sprint process, we interview various experts to help us better understand the user journey map. which is essentially a flow chart that shows how prospective users discover, learn about, purchase, and use digital products. It serves as an end-to-end map of the target user’s journey, from the initial stage of awareness of a problem to daily use of the product they’ve selected.
On day one of the design sprint, the goal is to align on one primary challenge as a group. This helps determine the number one pain point of the target user, which is ultimately what the product idea is designed to solve.
On day two of our design sprint process, we collaborate to arrive at one single solution to the primary challenge of the target user. The rest of the day is spent outlining a storyboard of the solution, which is a visual storytelling of the user’s journey inside the application.
On day three of a design sprint, our team creates a high-fidelity prototype based on the chosen solution. This clickable, interactive prototype—which is tested on real users—looks and functions exactly the way the end product will. The traditional UX design process never results in a prototype that’s designed and ready for feedback in such a short period of time; however, design sprints allow us to build a significant amount of momentum upfront—something that’s highly valuable for startups looking to be as nimble as possible.
Day four of the design sprint—also the UX design process—is when we test the prototype with five real users. Collecting real feedback from potential users is invaluable during this process. It’s an opportunity to instantly test and validate (or invalidate) any assumptions about your target users before spending time and money developing a product for them.
We’ve found that by getting real user feedback immediately, we can begin to identify trends and validate or invalidate an idea much faster than with a more traditional UX strategy. And best of all, the output quality is the same or better.
On the last day of the UX design process, we review our findings and recommendations based on the prototype user tests. This stage of the process is really an opportunity to make changes based on real user feedback, then test and repeat to refine over time.
You have an awesome product idea; we have the perfect strategy to bring that idea to life. At Checkmate Digital, we partner with B2B startups like yours to build rockstar digital prototypes that are tested and validated by real users in record time. Let’s talk about your unique vision, as well as any challenges standing in your way, so we can make your vision a reality.