Senior UX Designer Phil lists his top 5 UX tools.
1. User Research
Of course, this is my favourite UX tool! What kind of UX designer doesn’t do research? I love the human feedback you get from users. The subtle micro actions of a mouse movement, the frown on a user’s face when they are confused, to the frustrated vocalisation of a user that gets lost on the website. I’ve started using these user actions as triggers to come up with better solutions on the fly. I sit with a sketch book (sometimes my laptop) and quickly mock up a solution to the problems we are seeing. At the end of the session, clients love to see the potential designs we could test to make better experiences.
2. Font Awesome
Icon design is pretty difficult. Usability studies have shown that there are only a handful of universally recognised icons: Play, Pause, Stop, etc. This is to do with the adoption curve of technology and how icons have evolved into our daily lives. Font Awesome has tried to unify the world of icon design, making a free, easy to use icon set than can be used on any web platform. Their range is wide and varied with some 675 icons including recognisable gestures, logos and interface icons. Font Awesome has been adopted by a huge number of sites and is always the first stop for me as I create new digital experiences.
Prototyping is the extra layer we sometimes need when trying to convey our ideas. Invision has been a trusted friend for over 2 years and it’s certainly improved from its humble click and drag interface. The simple layering effect of .sketch, .psd, .pdf, .png, .jpg, files is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. You can now create prototypes for all sorts of devices including wearables like the Apple Watch and Android Watch. We’ve had great success at PRWD with walking clients (and users) through our designs. It gives a more immersive understanding of the look and feel we are trying to achieve. BONUS: The Invision Blog has great articles and is a source of inspiration!
Maybe this isn’t your standard UX tool, however, if you’re like us here at PRWD user data is super important. Understanding what many users do is just as (if not more) important than one on one research, to design great experiences. The insights we get from HotJar are incredibly useful, not only do they help inform our hypothesis and help us to create test ideas but we also use this to monitor our A/B tests. Watching the screen recordings of control vs variation can be deeply insightful, even when a test is live. We can quickly amend the design or adjust the test if we see users behave a certain way. We’ve had fantastic winning tests from insights gathered from HotJar so I thoroughly recommend you give a try.
5. Pen and Paper
Ok, ok – here me out. At PRWD the humble pen and paper is still king. From scribbling test ideas in user research and to leading creative workshops. There is no better tool to quickly get your ideas down. The most useful technique we use is the ‘6 UP’ technique.
Step 1 – Take a piece of paper and fold it into 6 even sections.
Step 2 – Set the timer on your phone for 5mins.
Step 3 – Draw… come up with a solution to the problem as many times as you can.
If you can fill all 6 sections, you’ve done well. Pushing your brain to create more than the obvious solution can reveal interesting results. As well as the added time pressure your brain will scramble for those unconventional ideas that might just be the most creative!
For more information on tools and methods, check out our beginner’s guide to user research.