What is UX Design
In my last article, I talked about UI Design, the skills that make up a good UI Designer and also the tools required to become a good UI Designer.
This week, I would be touching on the topic. What is UX Design?
So, really what is UX Design?
A lot of people have different definitions of what UX design is but I would be defining it based on my perspective and maybe adding one or two definitions from another source, but you see, there’s a thing that doesn’t lose value when it comes to the definitions and that is empathy.
Empathy is the biggest buzzword in the design industry, everyone talks about it, you can see I even made it bold enough so you can understand how buzzy it really is, you see, designers use it from Twitter to Instagram, to WhatsApp status, to Facebook and to whichever social media platform you find designers in, and honestly I think It has become really tiring to hear it over and over again without understanding how it’s really applied in design. This is where UX design comes in.
So what’s the full meaning of the acronym UX Design, it simply stands for User Experience Design, so how do we really apply UX Design, you might ask. But before then, let me explain what UX Design is proper.
UX Design is the process of creating products or processes that is easier for users to navigate and use regardless of their conditions, a UX Designer would usually follow a process called the UX Design principles, these principles help in guiding designers in creating usable and accessible products. This automatically leads to the designer meeting both the business and the user's needs by improving experiences.
Furthermore, a UX Designer thinks about the entire scope of a product including the edge cases a customer would encounter in the process of navigating through the product, this adds a better experience generally.
How does Interaction Design Foundation define UX Design?
“User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.”
From the definitions above, we have come to the deduction that UX design is all about creating meaningful experiences relevant to both Users and Stakeholders.
Empathy in Design
Remember I mentioned earlier that Empathy has become a buzzword in the industry, let’s talk a little bit more about it. It is not a bad thing, it’s one of the cores of a UX designer, it goes beyond product, it goes beyond look and feel, this is designers walking in the customer’s shoes and trying to solve real customer problems, these are real problems that would add tangible value.
Now that we are clear on what UX design is, what are the principles guiding good UX design
Principles of UX design
Focus on the user
Identify mental models
Follow the UX patterns
Let’s expand further on the principles of UX Design,
Focus on the User:
The users or the customers as most industries would state are at the centre of every product that is being created. In order for the business to scale, there has to be a problem the product is solving for a user or a customer.
When a product can’t be used by different persons on multiple platforms, then it is said that the product has failed in being accessible. Accessibility in design means that many people can use a product regardless of their disabilities. Some of these disabilities could range from Speech impairment, loss of vision, loss of motion, loss of hearing etc.
With accessibility as a principle, the designer is making sure the product can be used by different persons on different platforms regardless of their disability.
Usability brings to focus how well a user/customer interacts with a product to achieve a particular goal efficiently, effectively and satisfactorily without having to be directed or told what to do at any point in time.
This ascertains that elements and components in the product look uniform and the same as the user/customer navigates through the product's journey.
This is important for the designer to prioritize when creating a product, so the customer doesn’t have to relearn a mental model every single time they navigate through a product.
This helps in reducing a user/customer's cognitive load, a user/customer should be able to identify similar elements in the real world or a product in a product they are currently using, this will help in easily navigating the product which aids usability.
Identify mental models:
An average user has a belief system of how a product, a situation or an interaction should work based on their past experience with other situations, products or websites and when a product they currently jump on doesn’t work how they believe it should work, it becomes really frustrating for them, this is where understanding a customer’s mental model is important, by doing so, the designer has helped the business save money and also the user/customer save time and conserve energy.
Follow UX patterns:
These are re-usable experiences or components found on existing websites that are used in solving exactly the same interaction, navigation or usability problem on a website.
Why is this important? an average user visits around 130 web pages per day from Blogging wizard with almost the same navigational pattern. Following the numbers would explain the amount of time an average user spends on that website, if there are things obstructing the said user from performing a task, they leave immediately. UX patterns also help in user/customer retention.
This is as old as man and also packs a punch when used well, storytelling doesn’t just happen in movies, they also happen during a customer’s navigation through a product, this could be personal or system-wide.
What are the tools required to be a UI Designer?
The tools are just one phase, the most important thing as a designer to know is the fundamental principles of good UI design, this would help you scale design fast.
Note pad & pen
A good User Experience Designer factors in these principles coupled with empathy to deliver a product that stands the test of time.
See you in my next episode, I would be touching more on this topic
Hey, I am Chinedu a professional Product Designer with emphasis on User Research, Lean UX Design Methodology and continuous optimization of the design thinking process. I believe that Good design shouldn’t lose the human feel, good design should be usable & accessible, good design should be human-centred, and good design is simple yet powerful.
I make awesome pixels that make life easier follow me on Twitter to continue this conversation. You can also check out more of my work on my portfolio.