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Information architecture (IA) and UX design have a huge overall impact on the final software product. If done right, they reduce the time and effort spent on the development, guarantee a joyful and flawless experience to users, and return up to $100 per dollar invested.
However, sometimes, tech entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of engaging the UX/IA specialist in their projects. Being pressed by deadlines or budget constraints, they reduce the information architecture and UX design stage substantially and hardly benefit from it even half as much as they could. In some cases, they skip it at all and realize it wasn’t a good idea only after the first version of their app flops.
If you want to build a great product from the first try, you should resist the urge to skip the IA and UX design stage. Let’s unpack the benefits of getting the design done before developers start coding.
If done timely, IA and UX design saves money
It normally takes about a month to build the IA and UX for a new app. Ideally, the process starts as early as the planning stage and finishes before the first lines of code are written. During this time, an abstract app idea gets shaped, detailed, and tested. It turns into the visual blueprint that guides the development team towards success.
At the first glance, it may seem that hiring a UX architect increases your project development cost. It also may seem that devoting 4 weeks to UX design postpones your app launch date. However, bypassing the UX stage may cause your team to rework the app several times and eventually cost you N times more than you’d pay a user experience architect.
The trick is that ideating and testing your ideas with a UX designer is much cheaper and faster than doing that with developers. In general, the later you request a change in your software the more it costs you and the longer it takes you to implement it. If you want to change something at the user experience architecture stage, it will require drawing a couple of new wireframes. At the development stage, a similar change would require rewriting your app code partially or completely.
If done properly, UX design makes software customer-centric
The great software lies at the crossroads of user needs and the product owner’s business requirements. UX designers and information architects can help you find the desired balance. As a business owner, you’ll share with them your vision on WHAT the app should do from your business perspective. In their turn, they’ll show you HOW your app should do it from your customer's perspective.
The best part is that you’ll have a clickable prototype of your app to test with your future users before any money is spent on the development. But to get a good prototype, be ready to cooperate with your UX designer closely. The UX design process will have several stages and require you to give feedback on the intermediate UX deliverables. You should expect your designer to:
- Do market research (20h). Your designer will study your project specifications and interview you to clarify things or elicit any additional requirements. They’ll also look at the products of your competitors to learn common ways of solving users’ problems in your industry. If there is such an opportunity, they’ll interview the future users of your app to find out their expectations. As a result, you'll get an initial concept of the app supported by some references and materials justifying it.
- Build UX information architecture (20h). Your designer will decide how the content of your app should be organized and labeled. They’ll find a way to make it easy for users to locate and access the features they need to complete the task they want and to reach their goals. As a result, you’ll get a mind map and a user flow diagram showing the complete path a user will take when interacting with your app.
- Draw wireframes (40–80h). Your designer will first make low-fidelity wireframes to show how different interface elements should be placed on the screen and how navigation is supposed to work. Those wireframes will connect your app information architecture with its future visual design. Then, your designer will make high-fidelity wireframes to refine spacing and layout. As a result, you’ll see how content and graphics are distributed and prioritized, what features are available, and what actions users are supposed to take on every screen of your future app.
After you approve the wireframes, your designer will breathe life into them and put together an interactive prototype with Adobe XD, InVision, or similar tools. The prototype will mimic the appearance of the final app. It will allow you to see how motion design works and try out different user flows in real-time. You’ll show the prototype to all stakeholders, observe users interacting with it, collect feedback, and improve on the original idea until you have a tried-and-tested version that’s worth being built.
During the work on your UX prototype, you’ll get insights into many aspects of your app from the optimal size of buttons, through the best buying funnel steps, to the relevance of the app features to your target audience. Those insights will help you avoid building inconvenient design and redundant functionality because you’ll rely on user’s feedback instead of your own assumptions.
If done by pros, IA and UX design mitigates risks
All software projects have risks. Most of those risks are connected with the unexpected changes made during the development stage. By doing the UX design with a professional before the development starts, you can reduce those risks significantly. A seasoned UX expert can help you:
- Refrain from building an app that is likely to fail. Many ideas for apps look perfect but result in a complete flop when they meet real-world users. Building UX prototypes and testing them on potential customers allows startups to fail fast before any substantial investments are made.
- Decrease the probability of running out of budget or time. A prototype and specifications provided by a UX designer let developers better evaluate the time they’ll need to build different features of your app. By starting with UX design you raise your chances to get precise figures instead of rough estimates and plan your launch date correctly.
- Reduce waste of engineering and QA resources. The research and testing made on the UX prototyping stage save your development team from reworking major parts of functionality. Your team builds the app once instead of going through the build-test-change cycle several times.
Engaging a true UX professional early on in the project raises your chances to build the right thing for your customers. With the UX research and prototype testing done according to best practices, your project would neither suffer from feature creep nor miss any valuable functionality. The money invested in the UX/IA will pay off through the effective use of developers’ time and effort.
Need a UX designer to shape your app idea?
Whether you want to present your app idea to investors, test it with potential customers, or ensure your developers understand what you want them to build, a UX designer will be of great help.
At Proxify, you’ll meet UX professionals that dive deep into project requirements, suggest well-grounded design solutions, and create apps with great user experience. Send us your talent request today and get the work on your project started within two weeks.