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 processes 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 customer. 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. UX solves problems for real people in their real contexts.
In addition to problem-solving, UX Design takes into context 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.
The backbone of UX Design encompasses a person’s interaction with any product. It concerns itself with ensuring a user’s 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. Do these experiences frustrate or delight you?
[Find out more about the UX Design process in our FREE UX Design Guide for your website: Download my copy]
User Interface (UI) vs User Experience (UX)
UX Design is not interchangeable with User Interface (UI) Design but refers to the interaction between the user and a website or service. UI Design focuses on designing visuals and interaction, as well as additional elements like responsiveness.
UI, on the other hand, is the intersection where users directly interact with the product. Therefore UX Design is concerned with the underlying function of UI. UX Design allows the product with the UI 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 customer problems is required.
Designing a solution is useless unless we spend time understanding the goals of your customers. Meeting stakeholders at a company and customer level is critical. Is it useful? Is it desirable? Does it reflect your business? Is it what your customers truly need?
We invest in research to avoid building the wrong usable thing. We do this using a variety of research techniques from one-on-one interviews, which provide a deeper understanding of our customers. Another technique known as contextual inquiries or field studies gives us the opportunity to observe people in the real context of how they’re experiencing problems and how we might solve these problems.
To give form to research, we enter the analysis part of the UX process which gives us the opportunity to humanise the research.
In the time-poor reality of today, we don’t have the luxury of lengthy research processes, thus use proto-personas to give an understanding of our user to move into 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, we can create a Customer Journey. Ideally, these show the process in which a customer follows in order to achieve their goals. Not just a step-by-step task process, but customer journeys are an important technique used to understand the time, context, device and most importantly, the feelings of the customer.
These days, Customer Journeys go deeper and map the systems and internal processes used that align to the Customer Journey.
Find out more about user research in our ultimate guide to UX for websites: Download it for FREE today.
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 assumption and experience. Assumptions are dangerous because we run the risk of designing for ourselves.
Keeping our customers at the core of the process, User Experience Design developing at the current rate of technology. Borrowing heavily from the Agile Development 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 by putting them in front of real customers and seeing if we’re on the right track to creating a useful, usable, and meaningful solution. This is a collaborative and iterative process and is critical in establishing the fundamental User Experience of the product.
Using low fidelity methods such as whiteboards and paper allows us 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. This is the detailing of the concepts in the form of wireframes; the design blueprint that details the page hierarchical structures, content areas, as well as the interactions between functions and pages.
In our new Design Sprint approach, we work closely with developers to ensure that we’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 goals and 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’s launch date, but involves itself throughout the product’s lifespan, using feedback to develop and roll out updates that continue to generate customer satisfaction.
Tip: 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. Get your UX Design guide here.
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 from research to design, and give your users the right experience. At Academy Xi, changing the world is our vision. Kick-start your future in UX Design with our guide to becoming a UX Designer or explore our UX Design course.