WHAT IS UX DESIGN?
“UX design” is a relatively new term in the professional world. Many people are still not aware of its existence and this raises questions like: What do UX designers exactly do? What is UX design? And why should I even care?
Well, let’s try to find out.
Idea and aim of UX is to create an easy experience that is engaging and instils a lasting impression on the user
In order to understand what user experience design is, we should look at its origins. The term “user experience design” was coined by the famous cognitive psychologist and designer — Don Norman, in order to describe the broad set of activities that his team was engaged with at Apple Computers in 1995. Since then, UX has evolved and became kind of an umbrella term for a number of different fields, such as information architecture, interaction design, product design, product testing, market research, usability engineering, and so on. I personally like to define UX as “a process of enhancing every experience that a user has while interacting with every touchpoint of a brand’s ecosystem”. The term “user experience design” was coined by the famous cognitive psychologist and designer — Don Norman, in order to describe the broad set of activities that his team was engaged with at Apple Computers in 1995 Here is Wikipedia’s definition for comparison. Pick whichever suits you more, but the overall idea and aim of UX is to create an easy experience that is engaging and instils a lasting impression on the user. Today, computers, phones and other devices are the main mediums for information and engagement, so most of the UX projects are about websites, mobile sites and applications.
HOW DOES IT WORK? UX design is a process. And like any other process, it has lots of steps and tools involved, but let’s look at the most important ones:
- User research – User research is fundamental to UX design. It helps a designer to understand the end users, their goals, motivations, needs and behaviours. It helps to identify the pain points and then address them in design. Tools such as user interviews, focus groups, personas are used during this step. There is much more to say about user research and how it is conducted, but it is a separate topic on itself, so if you want to dig into it – check out this article.
- Design – a big part of UX process, that is done based on the research data. It includes information architecture (IA), creating wireframes and prototyping. The purpose of IA is to structure, label and organize content in a way that is easy to navigate through and allows users to easily find what they are looking for and understand what they’ve found. Then the designer creates diagrams of a product (wireframes) that look at allocation of space on the page, prioritization of content, functions and features etc. Wireframes can be as simple as a pencil sketch on paper, which the designer can later digitize to create a prototype or to add more details. Here you can learn more about tools and techniques used during this step of the UX process.
- Testing – as fundamental to UX as user research. Lots of companies tend to skip this step because it costs money and time consuming, but in reality, money and time spent on testing will save lots of both later on. Testing provides answers to most important questions for the designer: does his design solves the stated problem and is it doing it well? According to one study, testing with only 5 users unveils about 80% of usability problems. You can read more about testing here.
WHY DO WE NEED UX DESIGN?
Depending on the type of project, the specification documents can also include flow models, cultural models, personas, user stories, scenarios and any prior user research. Documenting design decisions, in the form of annotated wireframes, gives the developer the necessary information they may need to successfully code the project. User experience design aims to create a “win-win” situation between businesses and customers. While improving the experience of the user with the service or the product, it also increases the adoption of this product. User research is fundamental to UX design. It helps a designer to understand the end users, their goals, motivations, needs and behaviours. As with all products, even dating back decades and decades ago, good product design goes a long way, and good UX generates happy customers. They buy more, recommend your product or service to their friends and by doing so, they increase your website traffic, engagement level and ultimately the sales for your business. Isn’t that what all of us want? Every good experience leaves an impression on the buyer, which in turn snowballs into a repeat customer that will champion your product, even if it’s subconsciously; it doesn’t matter if you are a user or a business, UX benefits both sides. I hope this article gave you a brief idea of what UX design is and why it is important. If you want to know more about UX design or want to share your opinion, I am open for a conversation in the comments section