User Experience (UX) Design: What Is User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience (UX) design relates to the process design teams follow to create products that provide rich and hyper-relevant experiences to users. UX design involves the design of the entire flow of acquiring and integrating the product; including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
What UX Designers Create Goes Beyond UI Design
User experience design is often used interchangeably with terms such as ‘User Interface Design.’ There are a number of key differences, though, where usability and user interface (UI) design are important aspects of UX design, making them subsets of it. UX design covers a much broader scope that begins before the smart device or computer is even in the users’ hands.
To quote the creator of the term ‘User Experience,’ Donald Norman said, “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
Those products that provide a great user experience (e.g. the iPhone) are designed with not only the product’s use in mind, but also the entire process of owning the product and even troubleshooting it. In a similar way, UX designers don’t solely focus on creating products that are usable; they concentrate on other aspects of the entire user experience, such as pleasure, efficiency and the sensory feedback of it, too. As a result, there is no one definition of a good user experience that will be the same for everyone. Instead, a great user experience is one that meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where they are interacting with the product.
UX Designers Consider The Why, What & How Of Product Use
With all good UX design, the Why, What & How of the product usage should be considered. The Why denotes the users’ motivations for acquiring a product, whether it’s specifically related to a task they wish to perform with it or whether it’s for values and views which they correlate with the ownership and use of the product. The What relates to the actions people can perform with a product – its functionality. Lastly, the How addresses the design aspect of functionality in an easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing way. UX designers tend to start with the Why before determining the What and then, ultimately, the How in order to create products that users can form meaningful experiences with. In the corresponding software design, they will need to make sure the product’s true ‘substance’ comes through an existing device and offers a seamless, fluid experience for the user.
UX Design = User-Centred Design
Since UX design encompasses the entire user journey, it’s a multidisciplinary field – UX designers come from a variety of backgrounds, including visual design, computer programming, consumer psychology and interaction design. To design for human users also means you need to work with a holistic approach as well as with fine detail. Designers must have regard for accessibility and accommodating many potential users’ physical limitations, such as reading small text. A UX designer’s typical tasks are varied, but often include user research, creating mock personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes as well as testing the designs throughout the entire process. These tasks can alter greatly from one company to the next, but they always require designers to play the devil’s advocate on their behalf and keep the users’ needs at the epicentre of all design and development stages. This is also why most UX designers work in some form of user-centred work process and keep channelling their best efforts until they address all of the challenges and user needs optimally.
User-centred design is an evolving, step-by-step process where you take an understanding of the users and their context as a starting point for all design and development.
A Deeper Look Into User Experience & UX Design
The user experience (UX) is what a user of a particular product experiences when using a certain product. A UX designer’s job is therefore to create a product that gives the best possible user experience. How does this happen?
Basically, it starts with a whole amount of research. You won’t create anything of real value to a user unless you understand what kind of problems they’re looking to address and how you can solve those problems, so that the user will want – or even better, will need – your solution. You can only get that understanding by interacting with users and setting up market research focus groups etc.
UX designers are often concerned with three primary issues: the look of a product, the feel of the product and the usability of that product.
The look of a product is naturally all about creating a product which has visual appeal and that, in particular, works in harmony with a user’s values while capturing the spirit of what they’re anticipating in that product. To break that down, it has to not only look nice, but look like it will function correctly for the specified tasks as well. In doing so, it creates a form of trust and credibility between the product and the user.
Next is the feel of the product, which is really about designing and creating products that are ‘a joy to use.’ So, whether you’re interacting with them or reacting to them, products should provide a pleasurable experience and not purely a functional one.
Thirdly, usability is the very foundation of user experience. If a product isn’t easily usable, the experience of using it can unlikely be good. UX designers strive to create products which can, ideally, be modified to meet a user’s specific needs, but which provides functionality that is expected.
What Are The Similarities Between Graphic Design & UX Design?
Graphic design is about emotional communication through typography, colour palettes and images. For example, serif fonts and dark, duller colours evoke seriousness, while sans-serif fonts and bright colours tend to bring about a sense of joy or excitement. Graphic designers are very often emotional designers who elicit certain reactions in any given user. UX design is also concerned with shaping the emotions of the user, although it relies on a broader, big-picture view of the entire user’s experience with the product. In addition to focusing on the best typography and colours, UX designers are also concerned with motion design, the tonality of the content, and information architecture, among other areas.
Graphic designers and UX designers are both on the same high level of creative thinking. For graphic designers, creating visuals that adhere to conventions (and communicate effectively) while retaining a sense of originality (to stamp their work with their own identity and set them apart from their rivals) requires serious creative and critical thinking. In a similar way, UX designers need to create products that solve users’ problems – and, sometimes, conventional solutions don’t always mean the best or the most appropriate ones.
Graphic designers often create mock-ups and wireframes of their designs in advance of delivering a finished design. It gives a chance for clients to offer feedback on their designs and for them to improve them without having to start from scratch. UX designers use mock-ups and prototypes, too, but they tend to be less focused on the overall ‘look’ of the product and concentrate more on the ‘feel’ of it. Is the prototype useful? Is it usable? Do users desire it? These are some of the questions a UX designer wants answers to.
What Are The Differences Between Graphic Design & UX Design?
User-focused vs pixel-focused
Graphic designers often strive for pixel perfection in their designs. Ensuring that texts have perfect typography spacing and that colours conform to brand guidelines; this often takes up a significant portion of graphic designers’ jobs. In contrast, UX designers are primarily focused on users. They study the interface between users and the product, discovering ways to ensure that the product satisfies the user’s core needs. And they achieve this by conducting a lot of research, by talking to and observing users, creating user personas and stories, doing usability testing on the products, and much more.
Iterative problem solving
UX design is, as we mentioned earlier, an iterative problem-solving process, and it can be vastly different from what a typical graphic designer does. It starts with the identification of a problem; this is often found through user research, and if not, it will be confirmed through user research. It is pointless to solve problems that users aren’t interested in, as they won’t pay to solve those problems, and that means your company can’t commercialise it.
From the problem identification stage, more thorough research is carried out into the best way to solve the problem in a manner that the user will be happy with. This is usually done via observations, surveys and studies etc.
This research then forms the product’s design ethos. Designs are then tested with users to see if the research led to the right solutions. These designs go through repeated iterations until research confirms that they are good enough.
Once this occurs the product is launched, but that’s not the end of the design process. The design will be continually tested and user feedback will be incorporated, which leads to a new round of user research. Future modifications to the design will be made based on this feedback.
A very common misconception about UX design is that good usability trumps aesthetics. By contrast, good aesthetics have been found to improve the overall user experience of product; by allowing users to be more relaxed, establishing a positive first impression and generally showing that the designer cares.
Aesthetics also help designers communicate internally within their companies. Former graphic designers can present research results in a way that makes stakeholders sit up and really take notice.