What is UX design?
UX Design is all about understanding how a user interacts with a product, software or game – and designing how they’ll experience the product step by step. Why is this an interesting field, and what can you gain by becoming a UX Design expert?
User Experience or UX is a very intriguing field that has multi-disciplinary potential. This is a relatively new field that is gaining traction over the last few years. It finds great use in product development and more importantly, takes care of customer or user experience with a product or service.
So, what exactly is user experience and UX design?
UX or User experience is what the customer feels when he or she interacts with a product. UX design is the process by which a designer molds the experience for the user.
The designer ensures all aspects of the product are appealing to the customer and that includes aesthetics, usability and accessibility while ensuring the products or services bring a feeling of delight to the consumer.
UX design is all about strategically tapping the emotions of the customer to empathetically solve their problems. The designer needs to understand the working of the product, its ease of use, its availability and think about how it can be improved to enhance the customer’s buying experience.
As Martyn Reding, the Head of Digital Marketing in Virgin Atlantic says, “User experience design is the fulfillment of a brand’s promise”.
Every brand works uniquely. How the digital codes combine with the emotional quotient of the consumer solely depends on a brands’ way of perceiving that. A UX designer has to research consumer behavior, optimize the buying and selling experience, curate relevant content to assess the whole process to fulfill the needs of the customer.
The concoction of the frontend work by UX designers along with the backend work by the coders delivers a brands’ unique mix of User Experience.
Principles of UX design
A UX designer needs to have a clear idea of what the design goal should be. The Design Thinking Process needs to be a well thought out assessment of the product from ideation to execution with a consumer-centered mindset.
So, where do you begin?
Start with Why.
No, we are not just naming Simon Sinek’s book but pointing out the fundamental aspect of its content. In this case, the core of UX design, which is starting with the ‘Whys’ of the customers’ problems.
This also allows the UX designer to keep a focus on the peoples’ needs and provide them with the right tools to empower them because the product should always be what the customer needs over what the product or brand will force them to be.
This involves thorough competitor analysis and product assessment to understand what the problem is that they are trying to solve for the customer. This feedback will give the designer a clear idea about the customer’s pain-points, goals and needs.
Once you establish why you are promoting a particular product and why a customer will associate with it, you have your foundation set. You can cement the values and motivations associated with the product and proceed onto the next task.
Now that you know why you are designing it, you can start building on the functionalities and features of the product. This deals with the ‘Whats’ of the product – what the product does and what its attributes are.
This gives the customers a way to understand the product they are going to interact with.
And finally, you arrive at the ‘Hows’ of the product. This is where the aesthetics come into picture. The accessibility of a product and the look and feel of it will cap the final stage of the UX design process.
While doing so, the designer should also keep in mind the following principles.
- Hierarchy is key – A designer should design the product in a way that is easy for the customer to navigate. Every button, tool, image should feel intuitive or natural for the consumer. Visual hierarchy is the designer’s best friend.
- Product consistency – Customers will always trust the brand for products that are reliable. Drastic changes to a design will trip the customers and they may end up abandoning the whole product altogether.
- Accessibility of a product – While designing a product, the user needs to have a customer-centric approach. All functionalities should be usable by as many people as possible.
- Simplicity – The products, manuals and all other related materials need to be at the utmost simple terms. This way, the product promotes user-friendliness.
So, how does a UX designer go about solving problems? Read on to find out.
What does a UX designer do?
Are you wondering how a typical workday looks for a UX designer?
The roles and responsibilities of a UX designer can vary largely based on the company and the product they are working on.
Despite the vast differences in job roles, a UX designer’s tasks can be broadly put under five different categories:
This is the very first stage in a UX designer’s design thinking process. The designer needs to assess the market, do a competitor analysis and listen to customer feedback to understand what they need to tackle and why their product is worth selling.
This guides the designers to think of the product design that will map the customers’ needs to the product’s features, allow them to assess their existing products and how they can tackle the users’ pain-points seamlessly, gives them an overview of industry standards and so provides them a platform to consider what novelty their product will bring with it.
Creating Buyer Personas
Once the designers have done their research, the next step is to create a buyer persona which is a representation of one group of customers. It is a fictitious and generalized representation of one buyer that can be extrapolated to a larger customer base.
This helps them understand customer behaviour, needs, what and how they can accept as a product and details defining why. All this information comes from profiling a buyer group that they currently have or can work with.
Information Architecture (IA)
Information architecture is the process in which a UX designer lays out the structure of a website. This includes figuring out a hierarchy, categorizations and easy navigation on the page.
Defining the website’s structure helps the designers to have a skeleton to work with while developing the website.
Executing the IA is wireframing. This involves delivering a design template for the website under construction along with the headings, sub headings, menu bars, and other call-to-action (CTA) buttons, if any.
In simple terms, you will be putting your idea on paper that serves like an architectural blueprint for your website.
This is then passed on to the development team who will bring this site to life.
This is a crucial step which helps the designer to understand how the customer feels when he or she interacts with the product. To do this, the designer needs to conduct in-person interviews with the customers, listen to user sentiments, encourage them to participate in surveys, assess bug reviews, and analyze their search logs to gather sufficient information against which further modifications of the product can be done.
Either one or a mix of several modes of testing can be done. Multiple mixes can be implemented too, which will give more detail oriented results.
How can you become a UX designer and a good one at that?
If you are looking to enter this creative field that throws open so many job opportunities, here is some practical advice on how you can pursue this as your career.
- Design cannot be taught, but needs to be practiced and learned from experiences. Setting reasonable design goals helps you to allocate time to deliver results efficiently.
- When it comes to customer interviews, active listening is key. You will need to listen and more importantly, understand the customer and react appropriately.
- Engage in usability testing sessions to get a feel of how customers are using your product and what you can do to better that process without reinventing the wheel.
- Recycle older ideas. Ideas that have been shelved or exhausted should be resurrected. New problems can definitely call for old, but improvised solutions.
- Be a storyteller in the making to effectively build your design in a way that convinces people to indulge in your product.
And to help you gain these skills, there are numerous courses out there in Multimedia Design, Interaction Design, Human-Computer interface, Informations Systems and Design and many more.
Find what interests you most and dive in to pursue UX Design as your next career path.
This relatively new but broad field has tons of job opportunities and employers are often on the lookout for creative folks.
Moreover, the job easily demands USD $85,000 per year, according to glassdoor.
While the UX design field appears vast, multi-faceted and complex at face value, it holds a lot of opportunities and it is definitely a great career path to pursue.
Several employees have claimed to have great career satisfaction in this field. With a broad range of skills and an enthusiastic attitude, this job is a dream job for creative people who love to take up a problem and find numerous sensible ways to solve it.
And enjoyably, the end result is a unique product of pure curiosity, deep understanding and inventiveness of the UX Designer.