What is UX??

List of Contents

What is User Experience (UX)?
What is User Experience Design (UXD)?
Why do you need User Experience Design (UXD)?
Why is User Experience Design Important?
What is the difference between UX and UI?
Is UX Design the same as Web Design?
What does a UX Designer do?

What Is User Experience (UX)?

User experience (UX) is a broad term used to describe several disciplines that assess the design of a product or service against the ease of use and satisfaction levels it provides to its users. Quality experiences go beyond providing users with what they think they want but instead address what they actually need. Experiences should always be meaningful and valuable and can be achieved by addressing the following facets, as represented by Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb diagram.
facet diagram

What is User Experience Design (UXD)?

User Experience Design (UXD) is the process of designing products and services that are intuitive, and easy to use, and which are both relevant and significant to the target users. It combines product development, market research, design and strategy to create a seamless process for users. At the heart of every product or service is a user, and each user's needs and wants are different. Without defining the user types and capturing those personas it is impossible to understand what problems, issues and or gaps in the market we are trying to solve. For example, the image below briefly demonstrates three different user types and the cars that have been designed to address their particular needs.
person examples

Image is the property of SAP User Experience Community and can be found here.

UX design analyses how easy it is for a user to accomplish their desired task and how they feel about the process. It considers every part of the process that shapes this experience, everything from the way a physical product feels in your hand, to every interaction a user has with a product or service. The only way to deliver an exceptional experience is to design with the user, for the user and this is done by using various user research and usability testing methods to validate any proposed solutions.

Why Do You Need User Experience Design (UXD)?

User Experience (UX) design is a term you’ve probably heard being thrown around by designers and web developers, and it is a vast and interesting subject that offers some great opportunities to every business. Many organisations often misunderstand UX design, but in today's tech-savvy world, if you aren’t utilising UX design, you are at risk of being left behind. 87% of consumers in the UK access the internet, and 48% consider their smartphone to be the most important device for internet access. Since mobile users are five times more likely to abandon a task if the website isn't optimised for their device, you need to ensure that the UX and UI design has been considered, so that you can reach these consumers and convert them into paying customers for your brand.

Why Is User Experience Design Important?

UX design is vital, not only for the end user but also for businesses and brands creating the user experience. From a customer’s perspective, decent UX design allows them to go about their daily lives as effortlessly as possible.
Simple everyday tasks such as adding a meeting to a calendar or chatting with friends online are completed easily as a result of good UX design. Offering your customers an easy process to use and purchase your businesses products or services will improve customer satisfaction and impact your overall revenue. A massive 83% of consumers say that a seamless experience across all devices is somewhat or very important to them, and 90% of users will stop using an app because of poor performance.

What Is The Difference Between UX And UI?

I think Jason Ogle described it best when he said “UI is the bridge that gets us where we want to go, UX is the feeling we get when we arrive.”

Many people often confuse UX design with UI design or assume they are interchangeable terms for the same thing. These two phrases are actually two different specialisms in their own right, and both are crucial for companies to give their customers the best possible experience.

UX design refers to the experience a user has when interacting with a product or service, and is measured largely on the emotions that are felt during the process; if the user has a crappy experience with your product or service, how likely are they to use it again? but, if a user has a great experience, you can guarantee they are going to return and you can almost guarantee they are going to spread the word and bring other users along for the ride.

UI design which stands for User Interface Design refers to the way the user interacts with a service or product; how will the user actually use the interface? and what visual clues can help influence or persuade them to click or select a particular element? It is also concerned with the overall look and feel of the interface, which may involve creating or upholding the integrity of the company's branding and their guidelines.

A journey is the approach and process a user takes to complete their task, for example, this might be firstly finding your website, a product search or even the process of adding an item to cart. These experiences greatly impact the user's final decision to check out or not, so it's more important than ever to offer your customers a premium experience by implementing designs that are created with both UX and UI design in mind.

Is UX Design The Same As Web Design?

Many people often assume that UX design is simply website design, but that is not the case. Experiences can be designed for websites, apps, software, games, self-service checkouts, and that’s just to name a few in the digital space, what about, cars, international travel, the installation of a new boiler, making a cup of tea? These are all experiences that have been designed for us by someone at some point, most of which we take for granted.

Although a good web designer will consider best practice design axioms when formulating and implementing a design, these will be for the generic user. The role of a UX designer is primarily focused on understanding business goals and user behaviour; a skill set that encompasses a variety of skills ranging from psychology to design and technology.

I have included an image created by Scorch which shows how a UX designer and a Web designer workday may differ. The full illustration can be found here.

facet diagram

What Does A UX Designer Do?

Ux design is not new, in fact it has been around for some time but has been masked by the roles of other job titles, such as User Interface Architect. The term UX was coined by Donald Norman, a cognitive scientist whose aim was to consider all of the end-user’s interactions with a company, its services and its products.

UX designers aim to make everything as user-friendly and as accessible as possible by assessing the design and technical feasibility in order to create user-friendly processes for an organisation. The UX design process undergoes various different stages, including discovery, definition, design, and evaluation.

Discovery Stage
During this stage UXers (User Experience Designers) spend time observing and understanding current processes by conducting extensive research and competitor analysis.This research is then used to identify user goals, behaviours, needs, motivations and pain-points so that the product or service definition can be defined. At this stage outputs may consist of; empathy maps, process flows, personas, audits and usability reports.

Definition Stage
At this point it's clear what the issues are and now a plan has to be constructed. User benefits and company goals are used to form a list of priorities that are used to plan iterations, estimate effort and time, and to agree scope.

Design Stage
This stage is an iterative process and consists of three core components; ideation, creation and testing. Designing in this way allows the UXers to sketch out, wireframe and or create high and low fidelity prototypes that can be used to validate an approach or an idea with a set of target users.

Evaluate Stage
This is all about measuring the success of the design, for example, a reduction in customer support enquiries, a reduction in the time it takes to complete a task, and or an increase in sale conversions. These are just some of the ways we can measure whether a system or process change has had a positive impact.

To help you understand the scale of disciplines that come together to forge user experience design as a whole, I have included an illustration by envis-precisely, which can be found here.

The Disciplines of User Experience Design

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