Today we are going to discuss about one side of design, which is the user experience design or UX Design.
As you might already know this, we have UI or user interface design and UX design. The UI is the aesthetics, the beauty of a website at first glance, or of an app, or the colours and how they look combined together, basically the first impression you make of the product. User experience design started pretty much at the same time as user interface design. I don't know if any of you remember the good old times when websites looked so rudimentary, no colours, no structure, nothing, just a white background and some lines. The journey for the user was super simple.
Well as the user evolved, the same happened for the material products that are being sold worldwide. In conclusion, so did the digital world evolve, along with its products. Nowadays, when you go on a website like Louis Vuitton, you want to feel as posh and as luxurious as you would when walking into the store. You also identify the brand immediately as the website is loading, because the identity of this brand is transferred to their website. Even the UX is designed in such a way for you to feel their luxury. You are not there to be pushed into buying something, there is no urgent sale you have to take advantage of, no reds, nothing alarming, only calming colours that help you see those high price tags in a very relaxing and happy way.
This is what UX design is doing. Takes care of the journey whilst using a website, app and so on. And this journey differs from industry to industry, from product to product, and it even evolves every year.
Now let's have a look at all the elements that form UX design. First of all, we have research, and there are 2 types of research. User experience design draws from design approaches like human-computer communication and user-centred design and includes elements from similar disciplines like interaction design, visual design, information architecture, and others. So first during this research, you identify what areas of the future product you want to focus on, and what areas are not so important at the beginning, like for example information architecture and what goes on in the metadata and back end development.
The second part of the research is understanding the end-user and the purpose of the application. Some might think that we also have a third type of research, and this is of our competitors. Often, this is being done, in order to save time and speed up the process, especially if the company is a start-up for example. After launch, we record data using Google Analytics or Hot Jar, and we analyse that data and change the UX design accordingly, based not on assumption but on concrete user experience.
Much of the work of a user experience designer happens in the early stages of creating a new product, focusing on figuring out what users want and need.
The second element is Strategy. Creating a strategy for the product's design, including how to best meet user needs using user journey maps and product requirements. For this, a ux designer might get some feedback from real-time users of similar products that are available online. If this product doesn't exist, then an ideal strategy is being created, using good practices and past experiences. Whilst doing this they are analysing interactions to see how users are likely to actually use the product in the real world, rather than just in "best-case" scenarios.
Another element refers to creating wireframes and prototypes. This helps the designers but also users to better understand the flow of the journey. Here the main game is taking into account the user's needs once they start using the product. Like what is their end game, why are they here? What is the best outcome and how quickly and easily they can achieve it?
The last element relates to aesthetics. I know you might think that this is a job for the UI folk, however in my opinion this is where they both meet up and the latter takes over. While UX designers do care about the way a product looks, this it's in relation to how the visual design of the product impacts the user's experience. User experience designers make design decisions based on the way the product will function for users and the emotions or behaviours the visuals will evoke in the person using it.
Without data that leads to understanding what a user needs from a product, a UI designer can only hope to create a visually appealing design, but not necessarily one that people want to use.
The best thing about being a UX designer is that you always have to learn about your user. People think that the user doesn't change and that they do the same thing over and over again, but this is not true. The main difference you can see is the one between gen X, millennials and gen Z. There is a huge difference between how they interact online on a day to day basis, and you have different platforms that even showcase this, for example, social media. I am not saying that this is the case for everyone, but for the majority yes, it is. And in UX design you have to focus on the majority for that particular field or industry.
People often like to ask, which is better: UI or UX? The truth is, UI and UX are both vital parts of the digital product design process. The two roles are complementary and are sometimes performed by the same designer (especially on smaller projects).