To figure out what goes into your app or website design cost and how to reduce these expenses, it is important to understand that designing a software solution is all about problem solving. When working on a concept of a custom new product, the first and foremost thing you should consider is how it can help your users solve the problem and be best at it.
Let us share our vision on where to begin in designing your software solution, as well as how you can make your design stage cost less and even turn it into a great ROI in the long run.
How to best approach the software design stage
- Concept, research and market analysis. A lot of young businesses fail at achieving the desired goals, either because they’re trying to do something similar to what their competitors have already offered, or their solution proves inefficient due to weak analysis and poor strategy choices. To avoid these risks in the concept phase, it is important to start your research with a focus on three major things: target audience, competition and demand. Study the problem your target audience have encountered, analyze their needs and motivations, brainstorm ideas on how to solve it best through various user stories and realistic behavioural scenarios. Research your competitors and their products to see if your software would actually offer a new, better approach to solving the problem. Finally, identify the opportunity, figure out how big your competitive advantage is and calculate the demand.
- Requirements and features. Getting to the very core of the problem in the concept phase and knowing your strongest points in solving it will help you single out the absolutely vital requirements and features to focus on at the prototyping and development stages. Thus, you avoid numerous unnecessary tasks related to irrelevant functionality and “nice-to-have” features. This will save your time and budget from growing and being irrationally wasted on something that can be gradually added following the initial release.
- Wireframes. With requirements and core features in mind, create a schematic depiction of all the elements of your software solution and the way they are interconnected with each other. Studying the wireframes of your software solution will give your development team a good understanding of how exactly your product should work, feel and look like, helping them use this information to apply the best suitable approach towards UX/UI design without wasting your time and money guessing.
- UX design. Having a clear understanding of how all the components of your software solution interrelate with one another enables the development team to start working on your product’s user experience. With your target audience in mind, the devs structure and craft the wireframes into an interactive prototype that undergoes concept validation and usability testing. Through feedback of the actual target audience, user flow diagrams and a number of iterations, the prototype turns into the smoothest and most enjoyable experience, where every step flows logically from one to the next. This prototyping and testing practice can actually save your budget from unnecessary rework and the risks you could have suffered at the development stage without proper UX design.
- UI design. After you’ve finished refining your user experience, it is no less important to make your software solution visually appealing to your target audience. While UX deals in logic and usability of your product, user interface is in charge of ensuring it all looks and feels right – the logo, icons, fonts, menus, color schemes and shapes, as well as various other animated or static elements. The main intention of making your software solution aesthetically pleasing is to boost overall positive perception of the product in time of its release, which will end up being a huge return on investment in the long run.
Why investing in UX/UI can save you time and money
Investing in UX/UI design and testing will help you minimize the total amount of time and money you would spend on the development stage. This will save you from unnecessary rework and risks, as well as free up a fair cut of your planned budget, so you could use it on the actual value-added work.
Even though it may seem like an unnecessary upfront cost, UX/UI design and testing can save you a fortune. Usability testing lets you refine the product’s usability and design with the help of your target audience before you get deep into the development stage, where any changes can make your budget bloat, considerably. According to IEEE’s research, “once a piece of software makes it into the field, the cost of fixing an error can be 100 times as high as it would have been during the development stage.” Same goes for fixing your requirements, usability and design flaws at the development stage, instead of getting it right during design. Do you really want to double your budget shuffling buttons around the screen when you’re deep into development?
High-quality usability and appearance can become the forefront of the increasing demand for your software solution. Depending on how easy and aesthetically enjoyable it is for your target audience to solve their problems using your product, well-designed UX/UI can make your business metrics skyrocket – boost user retention and productivity, customer loyalty and trust.
In most cases, if something is easy to learn and use, looks attractive and shows attention to detail in solving the problem, it has significantly higher chances of winning over the target audience regardless of the competitors’ possible advantage in the number of features. Take the story of MySpace, for instance. MySpace was once the largest and most successful social networking website in the world. Back in June 2006, it even managed to surpass Google as the most visited website in the United States. Then suddenly, the network suffered a rapid decline in 2008, and the reason behind it was Facebook. But what led users to bailing on MySpace in such a swift manner and hopping onto the Facebook train? The answer is UX/UI. Facebook was so easy to learn, it took mere seconds to get things started and enjoy doing it. Where you had to really struggle on MySpace, despite its way broader range of features, Facebook constantly improved its usability to provide the smoothest and most enjoyable social networking experience one could get back in the day.
Saving time and money at the design stage is pretty easy if you get your priorities right. Research and market analysis, getting to the core of the problem you’re trying to solve, clearly defined requirements and wireframing will ensure the smoothest and most efficient start of your design stage. In their turn, UX/UI design and testing will help you solve most of the issues and mitigate potential risks before you even get to the development part, saving you from a huge deal of rework and expenditures you would’ve encountered without investing in your design stage. Apart from its obvious cost-effectiveness advantages for the development stage, UX/UI design can become the forefront of your product’s triumph during its release, and prove a great ROI booster in the long run.