What is UX Design and why is it important?
Leave behind what you know and start with a clean state.
Welcome to User Experience (UX) Design —an approach bent on providing a user with an exceptional, intuitive, and seamless process, leaving them satisfied with what they’re looking to achieve.
UX Design involves unlearning the assumptions that every marketer, developer, and designer has of their customers. UX Designers rely on research to understand the motivations and pain points of a user.
What is UX Design?
Simply put, UX is the process of understanding and designing to solve problems in order to create satisfaction. It’s about solving problems for real people in their real contexts.
UX Design takes into context who the user is and the circumstances in which the product will be used. Being a user-centric process that goes beyond simply executing customer feedback, UX aims to provide the best solution to the most number of users within the product’s target audience.
UX Design focuses on a person’s interaction with any product and ensures their needs are met through meaningful designs and solutions. A UX Designer is concerned with how you shop on your favourite e-commerce website, or book a flight online, or navigate an internet banking transaction – ensuring these experiences delight you and allow you to do what you intend to, seamlessly.
User Interface (UI) vs User Experience (UX)
UX Design is not interchangeable with User Interface (UI) Design even though the two disciplines are closely interrelated. UI Design focuses on designing visual assets and on-screen interactions, as well as additional elements like responsiveness. UX Design is concerned with the underlying function of UI. UX Design allows the product to work well for the user.
“You can have an application with a stunning design that is hairy to use (good UI, bad UX). You can also have an application that has a poor look and feel, but is very intuitive to use (poor UI, good UX).” — Helga Moreno for One Extra Pixel.
UX Design also plays a pivotal part in product creation. It’s a common misconception that UX Design is similar to graphic design. In truth, UX Design is not merely concerned with aesthetics. In fact, UX Design acts as a bridge between visual design and function, as well as the look and feel of a product.
The UX Design process
Strategy and research
Strategy and research is the start of the UX Design process. To create something truly insightful, meaningful, and useful, a deep understanding of your business’ goals and customers’ problems is required.
Designing a solution is useless unless you spend time understanding the goals of your customers. Meeting with users is critical, to ask them questions about your product and their experience of it: Is it useful? Is it desirable? Is it what you truly need?
We invest in research to avoid building the wrong usable thing. There are a variety of research techniques, from one-on-one interviews -which provide a deeper understanding of our customers- to contextual inquiries or field studies, which give the opportunity to observe people in the real context of how they’re experiencing problems. Which in turn allows UX Designers to think about how they might solve these problems.
To further give form to the consumer research insights, we enter the analysis part of the UX process.
In the time-poor reality of today, most companies don’t have the luxury of lengthy research processes. UX Designers use proto-personas to gain an understanding of users before moving into the next stages of concept and validation.
A persona is an archetype or a fictional representation of the customer group experiencing problems. Personas are used to drive design and feature decisions, focusing the product team on creating the right solution for the customer, thus reducing the subjective nature of feature decision-making.
From there, a customer journey is created, to show the process and journey a customer follows in order to achieve their goals. More than just a step-by-step task process, customer journeys are an important technique used to understand the time, context, device and most importantly, the feelings of the customer.
Concept, validation, and design
If we dive straight into the design process without having completed the previous stages, we’ve done so with very little but assumptions. Which means we run the risk of designing for ourselves, based on our needs instead of real users’ needs. It is critical to keep customers at the core of the UX process.
UX Design develops and evolves with technology. Borrowing heavily from the Agile process and Google’s famous 5-day sprints, modern UX Designers are moving away from waterfall delivery and are adopting a rapid, lean, and focused approach to releasing a product that can be built, tested, and validated quickly.
The concept and design phase gives the opportunity to explore low fidelity concepts, show them to real customers, hence probing if the product or feature is a truly useful, usable, and meaningful solution. This is a collaborative, iterative process which is critical in establishing the fundamental User Experience of the product.
Using low fidelity methods such as whiteboards and paper allow UX Designers to adapt and refine quickly before becoming attached to a particular design solution.
If you’ve worked with an Information Architect before, you’re likely to be familiar with this phase. It’s about creating wireframes and the design blueprint that details the page hierarchical structure, content areas, as well as the interactions between functions and pages.
In this design sprint approach, UX Designers work closely with Developers to ensure that they’re building the right thing at the right time and solving the right problem for the right customer.
Why is UX Design important?
UX Design considers all aspects of the user’s interaction with a product by ensuring its features and design are optimised, useful, desirable, necessary, and reflective of both the brand and client’s needs.
A UX Designer works at fulfilling a company’s objectives by satisfying the needs, goals, and motivations of a user. By considering the human experience above other elements, UX Design plays a fundamental role in retaining the attention and loyalty of users.
The value of UX Design doesn’t end after a product launch date, but involves itself throughout the product’s lifespan, using feedback to develop and roll out updates that continue to generate customer satisfaction.
Good UX Design has the potential of increasing and retaining users, directly impacting a company’s bottom line. Bad UX Design, on the other hand, encourages users to take their business elsewhere.
With user research as a guiding light, every element and process of UX Design is prioritised and justified by data, ensuring a product is designed to satisfy a real user. For businesses of all sizes, the value of UX Design in a product’s creation and development is unquestionable.
Ensure you understand the fundamentals of UX Design and give your users the right experience by joining one of our UX courses today.