Data-Driven Design 101 – How you can use data, to back up design.

General Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the world of digital design, one of the ever more apparent processes of developing a product/website is through data-driven-design (UX/UI design)

Design has always predominately been a creative expression that usually has an artistic product delivered from an individual’s creative ideas. 

What is data-driven design?

Data driven design essentially means there is an element of science in the process, to be specific, the analysis of appropriate data based on & regarding the product in question.

This not only helps guide design, but also provides a catalyst to develop new creative ideas that differ from previous aesthetics to achieve a specific goal.

In the majority of cases a designer’s personality will vary massively from the audience that will be using the products they are designing, this is one of many reason why data should influence design. 

Background research into a user audience gives insight to designers so they can develop the best suited designs for the audience that will be putting them into practice.

How can data-driven design optimise user experience?

Data-driven design usually requires a variety of different kinds of information to develop an optimal user experience for their product. Some of the data that will show as useful will include things like website analytics on an already standing product, A/B and multivariate testing, user audience interviews, user journeys, and other forms of data research.

In a lot of cases some of this data will be hard to obtain, for instance if you are designing a website for a newly established company, they won’t have any data based around their website as they haven’t had it built yet. Whereas an already existing product undergoing a redesign would most likely have access to this information. 

In any case, with data driven design, more information is always going to help you strengthen your design and tailor it towards your user audience.

What tools can you use to analyse design?

Analytics can be a powerful tool when conducting your UX research, as stated above, this wouldn’t really apply to any projects starting from scratch, but websites that already have an online presence can provide analytic information which shows designers what works well and what doesn’t work so well. 

From the analytics a designer can see what pages are successful by their bounce rates and the average user time spent on a page, this goes the same for pages with high bounce rates, as these areas would be where the improvements need to implemented as people are leaving quickly.

Another set of data that has proven helpful in user design is A/b & multivariate testing,

These tests are processes that show us how different versions of specific design elements of a website preform against each other. These results can show designers which aesthetics are more popular & and overall massively improve user experience. 

This method of data collection can be run throughout the life of your web product, This means the design to a specific product can be forever changing to improve user-ability and the amount of engagement your web product gets.

User Journeys are the paths users take to travel through a product/website, it begins with a landing page and should end with the user where you want them to be before leaving the site. 

Most designers will have a pre-planned route for users to follow, focusing design on specific areas to make them more attractive to users, so if the user journeys are venturing away from this route in may suggest that there is an issue with your user experience.

But overall, using user journey analytics can massively benefit the overall user experience, purely through focusing on specific aspects of your designed and where they will take your user next.

Another useful data collection process is user research, there are many ways designers can carry out this process, for example: subject related interviews, focus groups and surveys. This research can give designers an insight to the behaviour of their user audience, resulting in a more tailored user experience for their design.

Gathering the information is only one small aspect of data driven design. Understanding that Quantitative data, such as analytics, is a key part to your review, but qualitative data, Mainly the data gained from your user research is just as important.

Quantitative and qualitative data both tell us a lot about our product and the ways in which we can improve it. Quantitative data helps give designers an idea of what is working and what isn’t on a web page whereas qualitative data helps shine a light on the ways in which the user interacts and manoeuvres around your website. 

Once both sets of data have been analysed and reviewed, the designer should be on the look out for trends and upon finding them acting on them appropriately within the design.

The data collection and analysis process should be on going to ensure the highest user optimisation for your product, when new data is collected, the design for a website should change after review. Other factors may also affect your overall user experience and site performance such as search engine algorithm changes and updates to certain frameworks used by your products.

In conclusion, having a basic understanding of data-driven design and how it can constantly improve your work is an important realisation for designers. Getting into user research, carrying out the testing process and learning how to analyse data analytics provides designers the framework to support their creative ideas as well as help them design and deliver a product perfect for the audience using it.

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