An entire blog dedicated to UX design. That must mean it's pretty important, right? RIGHT!
First things first, let's get the acronym out of the way.
What does UX stand for?
How can we start to understand what UX design is?
It's a concept
By understanding that there is not one concrete or perfect answer for what UX design is.
It is not a specific thing, it is much more of a concept than anything else, and is made up of a myriad of separate entities.
These include, but are not limited to: Usability, Visual Design, Information architecture, Interaction design and the list goes on.
Ultimately, as you can see from the above tech names dropped, it can essentially be summarized as certain touchpoints of a website, that users (online visitors, buyers etc.) interact and engage with, and how those touchpoints make them feel i.e., makes them stay longer on the website because it is an enjoyable experience, or makes them leave the website quickly because it doesn't operate well etc.
Does that make sense? Sort of? Alright, then here we have one good definition of what UX design is.
A definition of UX design
'User experience (UX) refers to the user's journey when interacting with a product or service. UX design is the process of creating products or services that provide meaningful experiences for users, involving many different areas of product development including branding, usability, function, and design.'
If you merge our attempt at explaining it, plus what the Columbia source has to say about it, you should be able to form a pretty good base understanding so far.
We're going to get into more detail now, don't worry, your idea of what UX design is will become more and more clear as you continue to read.
One thing's for sure, a user experience designer certainly have their work cut out for them. They need to create a stellar user interface design (which is the human computer interaction) with which to be engaged with by online visitors.
Every UX design is different to the next, so it's not really a copy and paste job, especially not when you want to do it extremely well, like us.
What exactly do UX designers work on?
The UX designer's job is to take the user into account at all times.
It's a bit of an odd-ball way to think about it, but it always strikes us as a mixture between tech, design and psychology.
There is a saying we once read, that perfectly summarized what UX design is, and we'll share it with you now:
''The short version is that I say I humanize technology.'' — Fred Beecher, Director of UX, The Nerdery (source)
The ideal UX designer can happily marry these three things:
Tech because as a UX designer you need to create wireframes and prototypes.
Design because as a UX designer you need to have a general idea of the layout of the website or site that the user is engaging with. This is limited to the feel of the design, how a landing page flows from information to information, for example. The actual virtually added bits like button etc., that's UI.
Psychology because you need to go behind the scenes and research what the user is looking for and think about how you can fulfill that desire with a multitude of interface elements.
Which ultimately results in merging the desire of the user, with a technical answer and managing to establish business visibility.
Let's run through the UX design process
The first thing that needs to happen is that the UX designer needs to buckle down and do some research before starting on anything else. You can't wireframe or prototype something that you haven't given serious thought too. User research is vital here.
The client that the UX designer has is naturally facing some form of challenge, whether that is wanting to re-design the website, or make the website more functional for their scaling plans, or introducing their 'new product' section in a more streamline and user-friendly way.
Whatever the case may be, the story is the same, which is that the UX designer needs to research the challenge in order to come up with clever solutions. This can be through running research groups and interviewing potential users, or doing a competitor analysis to try to gain a competitive advantage, and the list goes on. The research process is never linear.
This research then needs to be processed and categorized in order for the UX designer to better understand the user's goal, paint points and behaviors. A very useful step in identifying this by using persona's to help you build a picture of the different users you want to attract.
If you'd like to learn more about persona's and how identifying them can help your eCommerce store, then take a read here: Personas in eCommerce: Who are those that buy from my online store?
Now it starts to get more finicky. The UX designers job is to now take this information, and try to put themselves into the shoes of a user, and try to think which online journey a user might explore to try to find or buy a particular product.
This is where the UX designer is essentially trying to map out a journey or flow, if you please, of how the user might use or engage with the online store. All of this 'flow and journey' is the main area of what a UX designer, be it interaction designers or whichever kind of designer, focuses on and this stage takes time.
Once this stage is complete and a flow established, things get a lot more visual. Now the visual design part creeps in, as the UX designer now tries to put everything on paper, in the form of actually outlining how the landing pages should flow and look, which is what we call wireframing.
Hello, Usability testing
Then you need to test these wireframes and create a variety of prototypes and see which ones work the best in practice. This is known as the 'usability test' which basically means 'How does a user interact with this product' (and by product, we mean the site that UX designer just made, because that's his baby, his product). Then, once that has been done, the UI designer steps in and starts to add colors, fonts, buttons etc.
What is the value of investing in UX for a business?
We'll start by sharing this quote
Ultimately, good design increases your company’s value, boosts sales, and puts your business in a better financial situation. (source)
This is true.
A lot of what UX designers do is taking your challenges and the challenges of your users into consideration, and then creating a viable and fitting solution for both parties. Does that not sound ideal already?
We've always been taken by UX designer because it is an area of work in which the designer not only thinks about his client i.e., the website owner, but also massively takes into account the customers of said client. You're paying a UX designer to do a lot of thinking and research and then turn that into an answer. And it's worth is.
Especially if you consider the dwindling attention span of the average online user. The load speed of a website for example is crucial for the success of a website. It is said that you have a maximum of 15 seconds to capture the attention of a browser, before they go to a competitor, which means that first impressions are seriously important. And the UX designer is in charge of creating that first impression, so invest in this.
We'll help you identify what it is you need to look out for when hiring a UX designer or agency, as of course, it does come with a price tag that can be pretty steep.
What to look out for in a UX designer or agency
When looking for a UX designer or agency, there are several crucial factors to consider.
Firstly, make sure that they have a strong portfolio! They need to be able to show their ability to create engaging, user-centric designs. This should include a variety of projects, demonstrating versatility and adaptability to different industries and user types.
Secondly, the designer or agency's approach to user research is key. They should have a solid methodology for understanding user behavior (the bread and butter of an interaction designer), needs, and pain points.
Additionally, look for evidence of their ability to translate user insights into functional, aesthetically pleasing design solutions. The agency or designer needs to prove some serious UX design skills.
Communication skills are also vital, as the designer or agency should be able to clearly articulate their design choices and how they align with user needs.
Lastly, consider their experience with usability testing and their process for iterating and improving designs based on user feedback.
With the right combination of research, design, testing, data analysis and continuous improvement - businesses can ensure they have an unforgettable user experience that drives their success.
UX design is an invaluable and essential component of modern businesses.
By understanding user needs, exploring user personas, creating wireframes and prototypes, conducting usability testing, analyzing data, and making continuous improvements – businesses can create experiences that are both enjoyable and efficient for users.
Through the use of UX design principles such as simplicity, clarity, consistency and efficiency, businesses can create user experiences that drive engagement, loyalty and long-term success.
Investing in both UX and UI design (who are User Interface designers) is essential for any business looking to succeed in today’s competitive market.
We hope that now when you think 'What is UX design?' you have a clear answer in mind. It's user centered design at its finest.
Found this helpful? Share this post with your colleagues and friends
Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
Would you like to know more?
Let us help you!