Many people think that “User Experience” and “User Experience Design” are the same thing but they’re not. “UX” or user experience is an individual’s subjective opinion of a product or a service. UX Design is a process that guides users to successfully reach their goals in the most effective and pleasing way when interacting with a product.
There is also a lot of confusion between UX and UI Design. In a nutshell, UX is how a product works & feels whereas UI is how a product looks.
What does a UX designer do?
There isn’t a typical day of a UX designer. However, there are a handful of different techniques to solve a certain user problem.
User experience process usually consists of five key phases: strategy, research, analysis, design and production.
Analyzing web or mobile usage, which is then summarized into reports of frequently visited pages, visitor demographics and more in order to gain insights about the current user behavior with the product.
Competitor analysis is a great way to see where your competitors shine and what are their weak points. Just remember that it’s important to to have a concept of your product finalized before diving into competitor analysis.
With online surveys you can quickly gather feedback from current or potential users. This results in an understanding of the tasks and motivations of users.
User interviews have the same concept as surveys but are more effective because it is possible to drill deeper with more contextual questions.
A persona is a fictitious identity to model and summarize research of people you’ve interviewed. These personas are assigned names, photographs, motivations and goals. They represent a manageable and memorable characters of most common users that will use a product.
Scenarios and Storyboards
Scenario is “a day in the life” of one of the personas and how a product we’re designing fits into their lives. Storyboards show user’s interactions with the product. They are usually just rough sketches.
A wireframe is a rough guide for the layout of a product. It is a visual representation of the elements in order to give an indication of the direction that the product is heading.
Prototypes are an interactive representations of the wireframes. The main goal of the prototype is to test the usability flaws and gather feedback.
The next stage is an actual user testing, which is more polished version of a prototype. Users are asked to perform a certain tasks and explain their actions.
This is where high fidelity designs are finalized and all styles are set before going into development.
The last step is a beta launch where you allow a small group of people interact with a product to gather the last bits of feedback about usability, performance or other issues before launching it to a wider audience.
While the phases are consistent from project to project, the details of the UX process differ since they depend on a number of factors, e.g. project goals, budget and deadlines.
What do you need to know to become good at UX Design
Becoming a great UX designer isn’t easy, since UX Design is more similar to a science than an art and because UX designer will have to accumulate knowledge in a lot of different areas, i.e. psychology, usability, design, copywriting and analysis.
Psychology is all about getting into users’ minds to understand why they behave a certain way. The knowledge that is gained about users’ thoughts and feelings helps UX designers guide their design decisions to the right direction.
While psychology helps us understand user’s subconscious behavior patterns, the goal of usability is to provide the best way for a user to interact with the product. That means providing a solution to a problem while still maintaining their behavior patterns.
This isn’t the same as traditional visual design. UX Designers focus more on how the certain product works and not just how it looks.
Just like design, UX copywriting is not the same as traditional copywriting. The main goal of a UX copy is to send your message as directly and simply as possible.
It’s important to know how to examine the data and what to do with it after conducting a research or user testing.
Every UX designer should strive to master the identification of which techniques are appropriate for a certain situations.
UX design process is not set in stone and could always be improved. Think about the last project you did. Write down the steps you’ve taken from start to finish and don’t forget to note the techniques you used to complete the task. Think about what went wrong and why. Was the job done poorly or have you just used the wrong technique?
Evaluation at the end of the project is a nice way to identify the flaws in the UX design process. That way you will be always improving it.