Jared Rogers, Author at General Assembly Blog

About Jared Rogers

Jared Rogers is a User Experience Design Immersive instructor at GA’s Austin campus. His extensive UX career centers on education, tech, and media industries with both agency and in-house design experience. Some of his notable clients include IBM, AT&T, Stanford University, and Meredith Corporation.

The Best Prototyping Tools for UX Designers in 2018

By

Best Prototyping Tools 2018After synthesizing user research and thoroughly uncovering problems to solve, user experience (UX) designers begin their design by ideating on a number of solutions. This is where the creative magic happens! Designers sketch to explore many workable solutions to user problems, then narrow them down to the strongest concept. Using that concept, the next step is creating a workable prototype that can be tested for viability against the user’s goals and business needs.

Continue reading

Customer Journey Mapping: Why It’s Essential for Product Design

By

The Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Life’s a journey, not a destination,” may be somewhat of a cliché, but it perfectly reflects the purpose behind customer journey mapping. Customer journey mapping (also known as customer experience mapping) is the strategic process of capturing and communicating complex customer interactions. User experience (UX) designers use it to illustrate the customer’s processes, needs, and perceptions across their interactions with our services, products, and organizations.

For example, when designing for Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, a journey mapping exercise would likely include a customer’s actions before they use the app, during their ordering experience, and after they’ve picked up their order and are headed back to the office. This UX design strategy is essential to understanding users and solving real design problems.

By focusing on a customer’s experiences throughout their journey with a product or service (e.g., clicks on a Facebook ad, signs up for a product mailing list, or Googles your company), rather than jumping ahead to the end solution (the present experience with the app or website), designers can deliver positive experiences and form a deeper understanding of their customers.

Customer journey mapping is an ongoing practice — a collaborative process that’s boundlessly more useful than a highly polished deliverable. Cross-functional teams who use it can include marketers, executives, engineers, customer support professionals, product owners, and more. By working together, they gain a shared understanding of how customers feel and think, and their relationship to the service. Engaging in a customer journey mapping session builds knowledge and consensus across the organization, and ultimately outlines the shared reality of customers’ experiences.

Customer Journey Mapping in Action: Case Study in Health Care

The key to understanding any customer journey is empathy. From anxieties and fears to joy and delight, the emotions tied to our products and services are what we’re looking to uncover. That’s how industrial designer Doug Dietz, the creator of the MR Adventure Discovery Series, was able to design a more successful MRI experience for children undergoing the scan.

Consider a typical MRI scanning experience, with its loud, strange noises, dark, confined tube, and cold, hard scanning bed. The apprehension, fear, and anxiety that patients, especially children, had surrounding this important medical ordeal was inhibiting results, requiring rescans and sometime sedation. By mapping the anxiety curve of the parent and child’s journey from home to the hospital, learning about their fears upon discovering a need for an MRI, and their reaction to the scanning room itself, Dietz learned why the machine experience had almost no chance of being pleasant.

From this newly realized understanding of what made the MRI a negative experience on their health-care journey, Dietz and his team were able to design a better solution. The outcome is a whole new sensory experience, a completely redesigned MRI room based on a pirate ship, submarine aquatic adventure, or outdoor camping trip complete with sights, sounds, and tasks all related to each adventure. A scary experience was turned into some children’s favorite part of the hospital.

Customer Journey Mapping at General Assembly

At General Assembly, students in our full-time User Experience Design Immersive course learn customer journey mapping as a way to validate their user research and apply a broader understanding of previously defined personas, another tool in the UX toolkit. In their class projects, both with real-world and fictional clients, students use the user data they collect to validate their team’s assumptions about a user’s journey and add new findings from their research. Students break the journey up into steps, indicating the touch points and emotions that users experience during those steps.

In addition to the user research, students sharpen their communication skills by running a team workshop that includes stakeholders from other disciplines, like marketers, developers, and customer support. Creating a customer journey map is a group activity and students learn the necessary skills to get non-design stakeholders, like project managers and executives, to participate in the process and arrive at a shared understanding of the customers. Students practice customer journey mapping in each of their team projects, so they can accurately identify a problem and uncover the needs of users.

Ask a Question About Our Marketing Programs

Meet Our Expert

Jared Rogers is a User Experience Design Immersive instructor at GA’s Austin campus. His extensive UX career centers on education, tech, and media industries with both agency and in-house design experience. Some of his notable clients include IBM, AT&T, Stanford University, and Meredith Corporation.

Jared Rogers, UX Design Immersive Instructor at General Assembly Austin

Prototyping Tools For UX Design: Key Factors to Choosing Your Toolkit

By

After synthesizing user research and thoroughly uncovering problems to solve, user experience (UX) designers begin their design process by ideating on a number of solutions. This is where the creative magic happens! Designers sketch to explore many workable solutions to user problems, then narrow them down to the strongest concept. Using that concept, the next step is creating a usable prototype that can be tested for viability against both the users’ goals and business needs.

UX designers create prototypes — early models of a product built to test a concept and learn from it — to communicate and test designs for user interfaces of websites and applications. Prototypes communicate much more than static designs. They allow designers to demonstrate an interface’s functionality, flow, interaction, animations, and overall usability.

There are several digital tools available for today’s UX designers, each with different capabilities and outputs. With new options being released and older mainstays evolving on a regular basis, however, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a prototyping tool. Among the most important are:

  • Learnability: Not all platforms are seamless to use. How easy will it be to learn?
  • Cost: How much are you willing to invest in a new, unfamiliar tool? Costs can range from free to several hundred dollars per year.
  • File type and outputs: How will you export and/or demo your prototype to accommodate your current workflow?
  • Project goal: What is your end goal for the project? Are you presenting high-fidelity compositions to a client? Preparing annotated, workable prototypes to hand off to a development team? Demonstrating animated interaction design concepts for your internal design review? Conducting usability tests with users? Different platforms have different strengths.

Prototyping Tools at General Assembly

Across General Assembly’s global campuses, we use a variety of prototyping tools in our UX courses, some chosen by instructors and some by students. Product Management students also leverage these tools when they learn to bring their wireframes and storyboards to life.

Here are several prototyping platforms our community has explored and found to be popular in the field to help you choose the one that’s best for your designs.

Sketch and InVision

Sketch and Invision

The design toolkit Sketch has become one of the more popular UI design tools, beating out industry mainstays like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator within many organizations. UX designers use Sketch to create anything from low-fidelity wireframes to high-fidelity visual interfaces. However, Sketch lacks the ability to simulate interactions such as clicks, hovering, tapping, etc., without a third-party integration, so designers looking to make their designs interactive rely on tools like InVision, a pure prototyping solution.

InVision doesn’t have drawing or type tools for creating designs — it simply sets up interactions, connects corresponding pages, and adds animated transitions to your designs. Together, InVision and Sketch let UX designers to design and build usable prototypes for testing and generating feedback. That said, InVision’s studio design app, InVision Studio, allows users to create their designs directly in the platform, which may eliminate the need for Sketch altogether.

Axure

Axure

Axure, released in 2003, has risen to popularity along with the steady demand for UX professionals. Designers looking for advanced interaction capabilities — such as custom animations and JavaScript interactions — can rely on Axure as their sole prototyping tool. One of its most discussed weaknesses, however, is that it doesn’t output vectors but rather converts images to bitmaps, which can lead to blurring or pixelation during resizing. Axure is also seen as more complex in general, translating to larger time investments needed to learn the tool.

Figma

Figma

The drag-and-drop interface on Figma, a collaborative UI design tool, is what makes it a standout for new UX designers, particularly those who are unfamiliar with HTML and CSS. It includes high-fidelity drawing tools so you can craft designs that are as close to the final product as possible. Other useful features include automatic responsive designs, so all artboards adapt to the screen size, layout grids for designing orderly compositions, and reusable components that allow the user to keep design patterns consistent throughout their project.

Adobe XD

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a product created exclusively so that designers can build their prototypes in one place. The software has a handy “play” button to demo your prototype at any time. And, while it doesn’t have as many design tools as Sketch, the team at Adobe continues to add new features to XD, such as underline text, view hotspot hints, and the ability to see the prototype in full-screen mode.

Webflow

Webflow

Webflow was founded in 2013 as part of Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program. Created as tool for designers to craft fully functional, custom websites, Webflow works well for prototyping interactive designs. Additionally, its user interface is intuitive enough for designers who know minimal HTML and CSS. The Webflow interface provides designers with more robust layout and styling options than other CMS options such as Squarespace or Wix, which are less viable for prototyping because of limited template customization.

Having all of these prototyping tools at our disposal is great news for UX designers, and at the end of the day, these are all designed to push us forward in our design process. If you find yourself getting stuck in deciding which tool is best, it’s important to go back to the end goal of your efforts and keep them in mind. You can also take comfort in knowing that tools are constantly changing — it’s exciting to watch how they all evolve.

Ask a Question About Our Design Programs

Meet Our Expert

Jared Rogers is a User Experience Design Immersive instructor at GA’s Austin campus. His extensive UX career centers on education, tech, and media industries, with both agency and in-house design experience. Some of his notable clients include IBM, AT&T, Stanford University, and the Meredith Corporation.

Jared Rogers, UX Design Immersive instructor, General Assembly Austin