There’s many UX Design Frameworks out there, most common among them are Design Thinking Process and the Five Elements.

Design thinking process 

Design thinking is a user-centered approach to problem-solving. It helps designers create solutions that address a real user problem and are functional and affordable. There are five phases in the design thinking process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. If these sounds familiar that’s because it is based on one of the core principles of UX design which is the Product Design Cycle which I’ve mentioned in an earlier post.

Each phase of the framework answers a specific question. 

Icons that represent the design thinking process - empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
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During the empathize phase, the goal is to understand users’ needs and how users think and feel. This involves a lot of user research, such as conducting surveys, interviews, and observation sessions, so you can get a clear picture of who your users are and the challenges they are facing.

In the define phase, you’ll create a clear problem statement, or a description of the user’s need that your designs will address, based on your research findings. This will drive your team toward a clear goal for the design of the product.  

Once you land on a user problem and establish why it’s an important one to solve, it’s time for the ideate phase. During ideation, your team brainstorms solutions to the problem you defined. The goal of ideation is to come up with as many design solutions as possible.

Once you have an idea of how to solve the problem, you’re ready to enter the prototype phase. A prototype is an early model of a product that demonstrates its functionality. Creating prototypes helps your team get a feel for what the product will actually look like and how users will experience the product.

Finally, with your prototype in hand, you can test your designs with users. During the test phase, users provide feedback about your designs, before the product is built by engineers and launched to the public. You can use this feedback to make changes and improvements to your designs, as many times as you need.

Depending on the feedback from your testing phase, you might need to go back to the beginning of the design thinking process, come up with new ideas for solutions, or develop new prototypes. Eventually, the goal of the design thinking process, like any design framework, is to implement your design, which means building it and sharing it with the world. For more details about the five phases in the design process, check out the guide UX Design Process: Everything You Need to Know from Adobe XD Ideas. 

The five elements of UX design

The five elements of UX design is a framework of steps that UX designers take to turn an idea into a working product. The five elements are, from bottom to top: strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. Think of these as a set of five layers, where each layer is dependent on the one below it.

The 5 elements of UX design, stacked on one another, top to bottom from Surface (most concrete) to Strategy (most abstract)..
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  • Strategy: The bottom layer is strategy, where you lay a foundation of your design goals. These goals are based on user needs and the business objectives for the product.
  • Scope: The next layer is scope, where you determine the type of product you’re building. At this point, you will consider the kind of features and content you want to include in the product.
  • Structure: The middle layer is structure. Here, you’ll figure out how to organize your design and how you want users to interact with the product.
  • Skeleton: The skeleton is the layout of the product. Just like the layout of our bones shapes our skin, the skeleton layer details how your design works – and like a skeleton, users won’t directly see its inner-workings. 
  • Surface: The top layer, surface, represents how the product looks to the user. The surface represents the interface that users view and interact with. Think of the surface like the clothes or makeup you wear that are visible to the outside world.

Want to learn more? Check out this article about the five elements of user experience, which was originally developed by Jesse James Garrett. Or for a deep dive into the five elements, Garrett’s book is also an option to explore