What is UX Design?

I’ll start off by trying to answer the question as best I understand, a question that I repeatedly ask myself. There is no universal definition for it and most importantly it is continuously evolving.

UX stands for User Experience. It is not focused on one process, but instead contains many dimensions into its practice such as Interaction Design, Information Architecture, Human-Computer Interaction, Usability and User Interface Design.

In a sentence one could say that UX puts the users’ needs above everything else for a digital/physical product and strives to ensure said product is useful, easy to use as well as delightful to interact with. But ask 100 different people the same question and I’d expect you’d get 100 different answers, all that are correct in some way or another.

UX Lifecycle
The UX Lifecycle as depicted by the Provis Media Group

 

Interaction Design, Information Architecture, Usability, Human Computer Interaction, User Interface Design.. what??

User Experience is a complex field that is a culmination of all the parts that were previously mentioned. If UX is used to describe the the users’ satisfaction of a product then several key points need to be addressed:

  • The fluidity of interactions
    • The ability to easily input information
    • A quick response time from the system
    • An intuitive workflow
  • The comprehensibility of the information and features
  • A quick and easy progression to feeling comfortable with the system (short learning curve)
  • The accuracy of the information presented (readability)
  • The pleasing appearance of the interface (visual design)

which are made effective by contributions by the following fields:

  • Interaction design
  • Information architecture
  • Usability
  • Human computer interaction
  • User Interface Design

I recommend reading this article as is goes into greater detail about these disciplines and does a great job explaining them.

 

Why is User Experience important?

Forever gone are the days where a designer created something he/she believed to be awesome or what a client wanted. People built interaction based off of what they thought would work – designed for themselves or a client. There was no science to it. With the transformation of the web over the last decade so too has the method for how we design for it. Around 40% of the world is connected to the Internet. That’s over 3.5 billion people! We design for desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, different browsers, operating systems and Internet connections. It’s not about “me” anymore, it’s about “YOU”.

Browser screenshots for quick testing
Browserstack.com screenshots for quick testing

 

What situation would benefit from UX Design?

COMPLEX PROJECTS

The move complex a system is the more easily convoluted it can become. Projects where this is the case would benefit greatly from hiring a full-time UX Designer as the planning phase and architectural build are integral parts in creating a valuable, pleasant and efficient user experience. A simple site would probably have no real use for this but multi-faceted, interaction-rich filled Web/Mobile applications and e-commerce site would reap many rewards by doing so.

BIG BUDGET PROJECTS

Bigger agencies have the resources in-house to add focus to the user experience process as opposed to smaller ones. Therefore they can pay equal attention to not only the build but the planning, research and analysis prior to launch.

PROJECTS WITH LONGER TIMEFRAMES/DELIVERABLES

 

Who wouldn’t benefit from UX Design?

FREELANCERS & SMALL STARTUPS

Startups and smaller companies don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated full-time UX designer so often they will assign most of the tasks to a well rounded individual and train them in the principals and processes, – in most cases the Web Designer. Either that or they will contract the work out.

 

Why do some people think UX isn’t necessary?

Evaluating ROI of UX Design using quantitative measures is difficult because there are no real metrics out there for it. It deals with how a user feels so you can’t add numbers like you can with page views, load speed, conversions etc. You can’t use any app out there that benchmarks the statistics directly. The effects behind a UX Designer are completely subjective by nature.

UX is not UI
UX is not UI

Since UX Design’s benefits are not readily transparent it stands that the process can’t be applied to any project and is a case by case utility. What works for one person can be the total opposite for another. User experiences will vary by site/product.

 

Good Reads

25 User Experiences Videos that are worth your time

UX Myths

8 Must-see UX Diagrams

How to quantify the User Experience