January 29, 2020

What is UX Design?

UX design is shorthand for User eXperience design. User experience design is about creating the ideal encounter while using a product or service. The term is mainly used in relation to digital experiences, including websites, software, and mobile apps, but can also apply to the remote control to your TV, the control pad on your microwave, and the process you go through to return an item to a store.

Once you start thinking and learning more about UX design, the more and more you'll find some user experiences that you'd like to change!

bad lock design

What is user experience?

In general, user experience is simply how people feel when they use a product or service. A good user experience may make you feel happy, productive, or satisfied, while a bad user experience may make you feel frustrated, disappointed, or even miserable. Bad user experience design can even be dangerous! Imagine the design of a control panel in a nuclear power plant, if it wasn't designed with the user experience kept in mind, a lot of bad things could happen.

Remember the false missile alert that was sent out to cell phones in Hawaii in 2018? That was due to a poor UX design which created an awful user experience both for the general public and the employee that sent out the false alert. Often a user determines if the user experience was positive or negative based on whether or not their needs were met.

“People ignore design that ignores people.” — Frank Chimero, Designer

What are the user’s needs?

Before you can create a positive and memorable user experience, you need to find out what your user's needs. If we design only for the business needs without considering the user's needs, we'll end up with an expensive product or service that no one uses. It's a big waste of time and a big waste of money. The core to finding out and understanding your user's needs is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. By empathizing with your users, you can understand their needs, thoughts, emotions, and motivations.

Similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, there is a design hierarchy of needs. At the base of the design hierarchy of needs pyramid is functionality. The latest bells and whistles for a mobile application might be fun, but if the product doesn't meet the most basic of needs, functionality, it won't be successful. Each level of the hierarchy cannot exist (or at least it shouldn't) without the previous level.

Design Hierarchy of Needs

Design Hierarchy of Needs

  • Functionality: Does the design work? Does it meet basic functional needs?
  • Reliability: Is the design stable and consistent in performance?
  • Usability: Is it easy to use? Is it easy to recover from errors?
  • Proficiency: Does the design empower people to do more and better?
  • Creativity: Is the design aesthetically beautiful? Is it perceived as innovative?

What is user experience design?

UX honeycomb

User experience design can be described by seven factors, according to Peter Morville:

  • Useful: Do the content and function fulfill a need for the user?
  • Usable: Is the product or service easy to use?
  • Findable: Are the content and function navigable and locatable within the product?
  • Credible: Do users trust the content and function of the product or service?
  • Desirable: Do users appreciate the content and function of the product or service?
  • Accessible: Can users of all abilities access and use all content and function?
  • Valuable: Is the content and function of considerable use, service, or importance to the user and the business?

What does a UX designer do?

A UX design has various methods to ensure that she designs with the user in mind, including:

  • User & stakeholder interviews: A common research technique used typically to get qualitative information from either existing or potential users as well as people with a business interest or concern.
  • Personas: Fictional characters, created based upon user research in order to represent the different user types that might use your product or service.
  • User journeys: Documentation of the experiences a person has when interacting with a product or service and how the user accomplishes their goals.
  • Wireframes: An illustration of an interface that specifically focuses on placement and prioritization of content, functionalities available, and intended behaviors.
  • Mock-ups: A more detailed illustration of the interface that focuses on the user interface and visual design.
  • Prototypes: A fully interactive, "functional" mock-up with detailed interfaces, complete interactions, and animations.
  • Usability testing: A process to evaluate a product or service by testing it on users and observing the interactions.

Why is user experience design important?

Because experience matters! Good user experience leads to happy customers and happy customers lead to more referrals and more business.

To the user

User experience is important because it tries to fulfill the user’s needs. It aims to provide positive experiences that keep a user loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define customer journeys on your product that are most conducive to business success.

To the business

Investing in UX design upfront can reduce costs overall.

  • Improve customer satisfaction, reduce customer service costs, and increase your conversion rate
  • Reduce costs for development
  • Improved return of investment (ROI)

Do you have any questions about user experience design or are you interested in working with me on a project? Feel free to contact me.

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