If, in the past five years, you’ve been on the internet or had a conversation, you’ve probably heard the term UI/UX. It’s pretty much the ultimate buzzword right now, but what does it mean? There are so many different definitions, view points and job descriptions within UI/UX that the conversation can be hazy at times. While the definition of UI/UX is relevant, a designer’s UI/UX process is of greater relevancy. So, what is the ideal UI/UX process?

First, designers research, research, research. If applicable, talk to your client and see what they understand about their users. That is just the starting point though, because your client only provides a basic understanding of the user. After talking to the client, you need to directly interact with and observe the clientele or users. Understanding the user eliminates choice ambiguity and speeds up the design process. This was proven in the early 2000s when GE redesigned their MRI machine. Apparently, GE hadn’t adequately interviewed young hospital patients. When Doug Dietrz, who leads design and development at GE Healthcare, went to see the MRI he realized it was a flop. As he watched one girl stand outside of the MRI room he saw tears roll down her cheeks and heard her parents vain attempts to comfort her. In that moment he realized he had wasted two and a half years designing this MRI machine. Doug wanted to have a more human centered product so he observed and talked to users of existing products and services. In the end the MRI machine transformed into an adventure, such as a space ship, pirate ship, etc. Consequently, patients were significantly happier. Moral of the story, do the leg work of researching up front and you’ll be grateful later — just ask Doug.

Second, design in an agile environment. Also, a buzz term, but seriously it’s the way to go. The sooner you test your design, the sooner you get feedback on the direction that you are headed. This is the most time and cost effective way to design. Agile design ensures you continually check in with users to see if your design meets their needs. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the old school waterfall approach to design. It’ll waist your clients time and money. Also, your users won’t be as pleased with the final product. Basically, as a designer you want to cyclically test and design.

Third, the first time you launch a product make sure it is an MVP. You’ll have a million good ideas, but focus on making a few of them really polished and sleek. This will make the experience even more spectacular than having a bunch of great features that aren’t executed well.

Follow these three steps and you’ll have superb UI/UX, so long as

every design decision you make reflects your research and user’s feedback. Choose 3 adjectives that describe your users and whenever you make a design decision confirm that it reflects 2 of the 3 adjectives. This will ensure that you’re not designing for yourself, but for users. Now, go start applying these principles!