Academy Xi Blog

5 Top User Experience (UX) Design Principles

By Academy Xi

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User Experience (UX) Design is the process of understanding and designing human-centred solutions that create satisfaction. Simply put, a UX Designer exists to solve problems for real people in their real contexts — by delivering exceptional, intuitive, and seamless products and experiences.

In addition to problem-solving, UX Design takes into context the user and the circumstances in which the product or service will be used. Being a user-centric process that goes beyond executing customer feedback, UX Design aims to provide the best solution to the most number of users within a target audience.

The backbone of UX Design encompasses a person’s interaction with any digital product or service. It concerns itself with ensuring a user’s needs are met through meaningful designs and solutions. A UX Designer determines how it is that you shop on your favourite e-commerce website,  book a flight online, or navigate an internet banking transaction. Do these experiences frustrate or delight you?

So what are some of the fundamental UX Design principles that help ensure you’re designing a solution that’s on the right track?

Design Principle 1: Know Your Audience

It can be easy to mistakenly design a solution based on your individual assumptions and experience, but all design solutions should be user-centric by default. User-centric design isn’t a new phenomenon but at some point, the misconception that design equals aesthetics emerged.

Rather than focusing on just the look of a feature or solution, the core of any user-centric design is empathy; taking the time to understand the user, and design for their needs produces designs that are thoughtful, relevant, and accessible. In the context of design, empathy supersedes what you assume the user is thinking and feeling. It is an understanding based on thorough, pointed, user-research.

Typical research activities Academy Xi teaches:

  • One-on-one interviews
  • Observation and contextual inquiries
  • Personas and proto-personas
  • Customer journeys

P.S. Read our Introduction to Usability Testing or download this Ultimate guide to UX Design.

Design Principle 2: Know Yourself

Relaying the vision for a product or service can be a lengthy and often, an abstract process. When approaching the UX Design of your product, there is no room for an existential crisis. The motivation is simple: the aim of any UX Design is to improve moments with your customer’s day through meaningful digital and analogue experiences.

By providing memorable moments of interaction, UX Design plays an integral part in invoking a long-lasting relationship with your brand.

Typical visioning activities and UX Design exercises include:

  • Context and objective exercises
  • Service promises
  • Design challenge activities
  • Service ideation and creation workshops
  • Accelerated Design Thinking workshops

Design Principle 3: Know Your Customer’s World

Step into the shoes of your customer and ask:

  • Who are the people in their lives that influence their decision-making?
  • What does success mean for your customer?
  • Why do they need you? Why don’t they need you? How do they really feel about you…and your competition?
  • Where is the customer when they’re interacting with you? Where are you when your customer needs you?
  • When do we show up and provide service to our customers? When do we add value and meaningful interactions?
  • How might we provide services that make their lives better?

This is often known to the UX world as the 5 Ws and H.

Asking the right questions and knowing where to look is a key component of UX Design. Research enables the finding of hidden gems that appear outside of the assumption space.

Here are commonly used research techniques to learn more about your customer:

  • Observation techniques
  • Interviews
  • Desktop research
  • Comparative studies
  • Competitor reviews
  • Participatory design workshops


Design Principle 4: Keep Your Friends Close But Your Enemies Closer

Besides having a thorough understanding of what you offer, be clear on what your competitors are doing well (that’s your baseline), what they are doing poorly (that’s your opportunity), and what they haven’t thought of yet (that’s your point of difference).

Competition makes us all better; however, it becomes immaterial when we know ourselves and why we’re in business. By knowing ourselves and our competitors, we carve out our own turf.

  • Competitor analysis
  • Trend assessments
  • Rapid feature exploration
  • Minimum Viable Product
  • Vision setting
  • Personas
  • Customer journeys
  • Opportunity identification

Design Principle 5: Build, Measure, Learn, and Repeat

With inspiration derived from the ‘Lean Startup’ methodology, take out your pencils and sketch your ideas onto paper. Test them. Refine them. Explore more ideas. Expand concepts. Build them. Test again. Sacrifice them. Start again. Then pick something. Ideas are limitless and the barriers to prototyping are so low that you have no excuse not to play.

Things you can use through this iterative process are:

  • Paper
  • Whiteboards
  • Design Thinking
  • Participatory design
  • Rapid mobile prototyping
  • Guerilla testing

When it comes to UX, there are some basic principles that you can employ to ensure that your website or application is intuitive, user-friendly, and a delightful experience. If you’d like to know more about creating an exceptional product or experience, learn more about our UX Design courses here. 

Academy Xi Blog

Top 4 Wireframing Tools

By Academy Xi

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As our interactions with digital interfaces increase, consumers are faced with an abundance of choice. Online interactions are expected to be seamless, efficient, and instantaneous, and businesses that are unable to provide a high standard of customer experience risk being left behind in the current wave of digital disruption.

User Experience (UX) Design is a user-centric process that prioritises the human experience above all elements. It takes into context who the user is and the circumstances in which a product will be used.

The goal of UX Design goes beyond adding features or executing customer suggestions, as UX Designers look to provide the best solution to the most number of users within a product’s target audience. Crafting a product solution requires an identification of the user’s problem. Here are the top four tools used by UX Designers to help define the customer problem.

1. Balsamiq

Defining the customer’s problem and pain points starts with creating a low-fidelity prototype such as a sketch format. Fidelity is defined as the quality or the appearance of what something looks like. In UX Design, identifying the customer problem first starts with exploring ideas in a really rough format through low-fidelity.

Sketching thoughts out on a piece of paper helps UX Designers visualise the user’s problem. Tools like Balsamiq aim to replicate low-fidelity sketching.

In the initial problem sketching phase, Balsamiq helps to transfer and replicate a concept that may have been quickly sketched on a piece of paper. The tool can also create clickable prototypes but its primary purpose is to produce simplified views of a feature or solution.

2. Sketch

Sketch is a User Interface (UI) tool that supports the entire design process from ideation to final product design. Sketch is utilised across different touchpoints but is usually introduced after user research, and during the initial phases of prototyping and wireframing.

Sketch is great for initial prototyping, as its functionality and fidelity allows you to move through the process to the customer problem.

Sketch is a popular tool across different production teams as it easily allows file transfers. The tool is useful to showcase ideas to clients or stakeholders and can be used to handover files to developers. Unlike Photoshop which doesn’t contain a code output, Sketch allows a cross-functional process when developing solutions for customer problems.

As an added benefit, Sketch integrates with different plugins such as:

  • Craft: Allows you to create hotspots as you progress around the screens, crucial for communicating and understanding User Experience across different teams.
  • Zepline: Provides details of objects built into a Sketch, centralising the information for developers such as colour codes and the placement of buttons.

Sketch is not able to create clickable and interactive designs as it can only produce design screens. When interactivity is required, Sketch files are typically transferred into another tool called InVision. InVision allows clickable prototypes with gestures and other interactions. Just input any image file (whether that’s from Sketch, Photoshop or Balsamiq) into an InVision board to get started.

Tip: Read our top tips to using Sketch here.

3. Adobe XD

Adobe XD is similar to Sketch. This paid tool is part of the Adobe Suite, and is a self-contained, design enabling and clickable prototype tool all within one platform.

Adobe XD is effective in building low-fidelity views of a prototype that can easily transition between art boards and interactive prototypes. Prototyping is straightforward on the platform, allowing designers to switch to prototype mode, select an object, or group and drag a line into the screen where can be navigated.

4. Axure

Axure is another prototyping tool but allows UX Designers to replicate the functionality of an app or a desktop with gestures and form fields.

While Axure users will need some time to grow familiar with the platform, it is a very powerful tool in mimicking what the end solution is going to look like from a developer’s point of view. Axure does this by visualising transitions, object animations, and button interactions.

Axure is also the tool of choice for plugging into asset libraries so that any existing templates, files, or assets can instantly be accessed and shared.

Ultimately, the best way to get familiar with a tool is to get hands-on with the platform and practice. As a UX Designer, it is important to familiarise yourself with different tools to identify the right tool for different design needs. Read more about becoming a UX Designer or familiarise yourself with these five UX Design principles.

Academy Xi Blog

7 Inspirational UX Designers in Australia

By Academy Xi

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User Experience (UX) Design embraces critical problem-solving and creative design thinking to mend a usability problem. Like most design work, UX Designers require an abundance of creativity, and often, solutions to common user problems that appear uninspiring and run-of-the-mill. Luckily, we have a remedy for the dreaded ‘designers block.’

Feast your eyes on these seven inspiring Australian UX Designers and stay updated with some of the industry’s best, because inspiration comes in a variety of pixels and Hex codes.

1. Adham Dannaway

Adham Dannaway is a Product Designer at Digital Transformation Agency. He has a diversity of skills from Product Design to UX Design, and he enjoys solving complex usability problems with simple and beautiful designs. Adham is based in Sydney, and his work is inspired by his love for interior designs (and Yoda).

During his professional career, Adham has helped Qantas refresh their homepage, designed user notifications for Campaign Monitor, and has built brand redesigns for Quest Apartment Hotels. He documents the challenges, features, and design process in his online portfolio. 

Across all his projects, Adham’s top UX Design tip is to consider the purpose of every detail in a product or user interface (UI). In his experience, every element has an earned position, and layering details in a purposeful design will result in a user-friendly and beautiful UX Design.

Design can be a subjective and creative art form, but it’s also very logical and scientific. Have logical reasons behind your design decisions and be able to articulate them,” recommends Adham.

2. Michael Wong

Michael Wong is an internationally recognised Product/UX/UI Designer, and founder of Sydney production agency, Mizko Media. His journey in the digital space began with a curiosity in gaming communities, but it’s his passion for design that led him on a UX Design path.

For Michael, UX Design is simple. It’s an umbrella term that captures everything to do with the ease and delightfulness of any experience or product.

User Interface Design is a component that lies within the User Experience umbrella. Its focus is on making a product or experience look great,” informs Michael.

Michael’s portfolio features a spectrum of UX and UI Designs for big brands such as Westpac, Adobe, and Microsoft, to venture-backed startups such as Spaceship, Snappr, and Soho App.

Michael also shares his design expertise on a weekly newsletter to 7,000+ designers. He also films for a growing YouTube channel and curates content for a thriving design community, The Designership.

3. Philippe Hong

A self-taught UX Designer, Philippe Hong, combines passion and creativity to provide the best possible experience for customers near and far.

Philippe’s UX journey began six years ago in France where his contribution to Hackathons and campaigns attracted multiple accolades. His award-winning work has been sought after by brands such as Airtasker, KeyPay, and Snappr. The Sydney-based designer is also the Co-Founder of the visual bookmarking tool, Bukket, and scheduling app Vyte.

Vyte’s new website features some of Philippe’s proudest work:

Philippe takes inspiration from Steve Jobs and emphasises that “Design isn’t just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

4. Adrian Ciaschetti

Introducing Sydney-based UX and Product Designer, Adrian Ciaschetti.

Adrian has worked on major design projects and creative experiments with Qantas, Envato, and Expert360. Currently, Adrian applies his skills and passion towards the design and direction of travel booking app, Sparrow Flights.

With experience in UX consultancy, Adrian has helped small to medium-sized enterprises and startups achieve a seamless UX Design.

In a world of research, data, and testing it’s always important to remember that passion and flair make truly great experiences. When there is a choice between the conventional and the bold, always test the bold,” Adrian advises.

5. Monty Hayton

With over 3,000 followers on Dribbble and five years of industry experience, Monty Hatyon combines branding, UX Design, and marketing to help domestic and international brands solve usability problems both online and offline.

Monty has worked with traditional and new brands such as Newscorp, AgentDrive, and Qantas to enhance their product strategies. 

In his approach to UX Design, Monty draws on his experience and competency across a range of mediums such as video, 3D animation, photography, and branding.

The Sydney-based Illustrator and Designer is skilled in data visualisation and is passionate about translating ideas into innovative projects. However, Monty warns that many designers assume that simple and minimal design equates to a functional and engaging product.

“Don’t be fooled, the aim of UX Design is to represent as much information as you can without sacrificing the integrity of the user’s experience. Simple doesn’t always work, and complex doesn’t mean a design can’t be intuitive,” Monty explains.

6. Kylie Timpani

Undisputedly an up-and-coming Australian UX/ UI and Web Designer to watch, Kylie Timpani makes it a priority to understand the needs and motivations of different people as well as their interaction and response to the information.

“There are apparently more than 1 billion people in the world experiencing a disability. In Australia, there’s 4 million alone. That’s 1 in 5 people before we even begin to mention the elderly who experience impairments of their own… that’s A LOT of people. So, when you design, make sure you design for these people too. They deserve to use and access the web just like everyone else does,” she said.

Kylie’s journey began when she was given her first computer as a birthday gift. The second-hand graphics programs that came along with it, gave her the opportunity to unleash her creativity in a digital environment.

Currently, she is the Senior Designer at a digital agency, Humaan, and in her spare time, she commits to organising design conferences. The Perth-based designer has worked on website designs for WA’s Good Food Guide, THRIVE Health, and more.

7. Sharni Allen

Sharni is a UX Designer and Researcher that believes in collaboration between strategy, creative and technical teams. With a background in project management, Sharni’s ability to inspire vision and direction in her team has resulted in resounding success for brands such as Coca-Cola Australia, HSBC, NRMA, the NSW Government and more.

For Sharni, her career in the UX Design space revolves around her passion and enthusiasm for the user. She describes herself as a UX generalist, understanding the value of stakeholder relationships, user journeys, personas, wireframing and usability testing.

Don’t design user experiences, design FOR them,” she advises.

Whether you’re a budding UX Designer or seasoned professional, fresh inspiration is essential at every turn. Start your career journey with a UX Design course or get interview tips in our guide to becoming a UX Designer.