Importance of Research Before, During, and After Designing

June 15, 2020

Author

Leslie Mollner
UX Designer

Article

As designers, we can’t claim to be experts at every given topic we design solutions for. But if we ever hope to be stellar user experience experts, we’ll need to understand their industry and how we can help make their daily processes easier. From the very start, we involve the users that our designs affect, and this audience relationship is the essence of user centered design. Our project with Visual Service was deeply connected to the developers and services managers who would be affected by our UI.

When working with Visual Service, there were plenty of unknowns that we needed to be enlightened on. The HVAC industry is filled with bright-minded technicians and service managers and in a perfect world, every UX and UI designer would be able to cater to their specific needs. We wanted to make their tools work for them in one, easily accessible location — a mobile app that could manage all of their devices at once. 


In a perfect world, every UX and UI designer would be able to cater to their specific needs

To do that, we worked closely with a service manager in the field whose vision gave us a blueprint of what a field tech would need. It was our job to make it usable, simple, and effective. By critiquing with someone in the field, we are able to iterate and adjust each round until we achieved objectively successful results as deemed by people who would actively be using our interfaces. To read more about design research affecting iterations, read this article here.

Visual Service is a user-centric app that will change the way field techs and service managers communicate and work. Because it’s so user-centric, and because our job was backed by a service manager with a vision, we had an open source of knowledge about user-methodology in a way that we could understand and design for. Certain features in the application, such as the measurements panel, went through countless iterations. It easily could have continued on into infinity had we not had an HVAC service manager to guide us in the right direction. 


By critiquing with someone in the field, we are able to iterate and adjust each round until we achieved objectively successful results

By testing our design with an actual service manager, we were able to glean research into the field in ways simple Google searches would. To create designs that are truly relevant, a designer must understand that the industry they’re working for includes a host of diverse experiences, especially in the HVAC industry. 

While many HVAC technicians have “industry standards”, the equipment varies, and the dynamic between a field technician and a service manager varies as well. The way people will end up using Visual Service will reflect this diversity, which was why we had to account for these variables.


Comparison of wireframe vs. final design of Visual Service web application.


When starting the design for the session page, we assumed that the graph held the most importance—it was a visual representation of data, something our designer bias resonated with. However, features that we as designers felt were the priority were secondary to the service managers. 

As UX/UI designers, our understanding of the industries we work for will ultimately impact the workflow of a project. In order to save time on revisions, we must conduct research with our audience and empathize with their wants and needs in the product. 


To see how we achieved this, visit our Visual Service case study.


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