UX Design: the Craft, the Process & the Result

With so many software and web development jobs saturating the tech industry, the need for user experience design, also known as UX design, is increasing dramatically. Searching for just how many jobs are available, OnwardSearch found 150,000 open UX design jobs in America. In 2017, CBS News listed UX design in their “Best Jobs in America” list. And, Glassdoor ranked UX design as one of the 25 highest paying jobs in demand currently.

So, what is UX design anyway?

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

The way a product is presented greatly impacts how people feel about that product. If a user can’t navigate a product website with ease, their trust in the product itself is damaged. Keeping that in mind, UX design is the front line of web design. It’s what directs a user’s overall experience of digital product or service, and often forms the majority of their opinion of that product.

Don Norman, the person that coined the term “user experience design” in the 1990s while working for Apple said:

“[User experience design] covers all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, and the physical interactions, and the manual.”

UX design is more than creating a good looking interface for a product. It’s about improving usability, accessibility, and pleasure for the user. A UX designer can shape how users not only interact with websites, but also how a user feels about a specific product. But that doesn’t only apply to products you can find on the web; good UX design can also save lives. Imagine medical devices, or medical software, that is poorly designed. Interpreting data on such poorly designed devices increases human error, which in return causes issues in the medical field. UX designers have the ability to create better workflows and readability that could potentially save lives.

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But, to create a positive user experience, all UX designers must know “the process.”

What is “the process?”

“If you follow the process, understanding it and knowing when to use it, designing websites, mobile apps, a toothbrush, or a space shuttle, the process of putting that together is pretty much the same.” – Brandon Beecroft, UX Design Lead Instructor at DevMountain

The process directs UX designers to the user’s wants and needs, by first understanding what the user is missing in their experience. And, no matter the scale of the project you are tasked with, the process is the most crucial part of being an excellent UX designer. Here are a few basic, important steps of the process:

Research: during this part of the process, you will be researching user behavior, goals, motivations, and needs. You will be conducting interviews, focus groups, surveys, and contextual inquires. This step in the process will help you create a better user experience.

Wireframing: a wireframe is a simple outline of the user experience you are designing. You will draw out where images, buttons, or text will go. Since this step is just the skeleton of the design, it will not include too much detail. The wireframing is mostly focusing on the flow of things.

Visual Design: Henry Brignull, UX consultant at 90percentofeverything.com, said, “Research is worth nothing if you don’t act on it properly. The leap between research insight and the design action is the most important part of a UX designer’s job.” Everything done in the process thus far comes out in this stage. Sometimes this step is called the “mock up step.” You will add in detail of what the user experience is like, including the different pages as users click on specific buttons coupled with what they will see and experience.

Testing: before officially pushing the new user experience live, it must be tested. Using focus groups, you will be able to test what you have designed up to this point. During this step, it’s important to keep in mind how the user is feeling during their experience. If they have recommendations of how they think they can experience the webpage better, take that into consideration. Test, redesign, and then test again.

The Result

Today, a business cannot succeed without building a usable, intuitive digital presence. Designing the user experience is an extremely crucial, and fun, part of every user’s experience. If you feel fulfilled by understanding people and implementing better user workflows, then UX design is for you. There really is no greater joy than having the ability to make people’s lives easier, or in some instances, saving a life. Not only is UX design a lucrative job in the job market, but it is also offers a fulfilling lifestyle for yourself and others.

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