A few years ago a project manager turned to me and asked,
“Anthony, what is UX Design?”
So, I told him.
“Keith (let’s call this project manager Keith), UX design is user research. It’s interviews. It’s surveys. It’s information architecture. It’s UI design. It’s wireframing. It’s prototyping. It’s user testing…”
He looked at me, nodding along, calmly taking this all in. Then asked, as though contemplating life itself,
“But… what IS UX Design?”
*I rolled my eyes and mentally threw my arms up in the air*
In hindsight I hadn’t really explained it properly. I’d focused on what activities are involved in UX design, not what UX design actually IS.
If he’d asked a different way I would probably have given him an answer closer to what he was looking for:
“Anthony, how would you explain UX design to someone who is not aware, or is learning about it for the first time?”
So Keith, here is what I consider UX design IS.
This study gives a nice description of UX design:
“The goal of UX design is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
That’s a pretty simple and clear explanation, and really, I could end this blog here! However, I’ll break it down just a little more…
What does UX stand for?
UX stands for User Experience. When I say “user experience”, I’m referring to what, when, where, why and how somebody uses a product, also who that person is. It covers everything that affects the users’ interaction with that product.
However, it’s not just about the users’ needs. The business needs have to be taken in to account too. UX aims to hit that middle ground where the business and user needs overlap.
To achieve this, we follow a user-centered design approach. Where by performing user research, conducting analysis of that research, designing solutions based on the analysis and iterating the designs to get them just right, UX takes the users’ needs into account at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.
Why is it important?
How many times have you downloaded an interesting looking app, then launched it only to be blocked by a message saying “to continue using please sign up”? All you want to do is look around the app, get a feel for it, see if you like what it offers. But no, the business goals have outlined increased user registration and now you have to sign up to use it.
During user research this should have been identified and alternate solutions would have been presented. Yes, I understand the business needs of user registration, but it’s uncomfortable for someone to sign up to something they aren’t familiar with. And forcing them to do it at the very first screen will make their mind up for them… Instant delete!
UX design will help improve the experience of the user of your product, which will increase the adoption of that product. It’s as simple as that. Give your users a pleasant and easy experience while using your system, website or app and they will happily continue using it, and even become an advocate for it!
The purpose of UX design is to understand the user or customer goals then use that understanding to design a product within the constraints of the business and technology available. We use UX design because of the benefits it produces; happy users/customers and increased adoption and sales.
In the end…
UX is not one size fits all and will depend on the size of your project. Some projects run for a few months, others for years. The methods by which UX achieves its goals will be dependent on the information gathered during the research phase.
User Experience design is a process made up of number of things, all designed to give your users the pleasant interaction that will convince them to continue using your product. How you choose to adopt it into your product design is up to you, but it SHOULD be included.
And to answer Keith’s question - ultimately, UX Design is advocacy for the user.
For more detailed information, why not enquire about our UX Design Workshop service?