UX #101: A Beginner’s Guide into the world of User Experience Design

Author: Eightfold Institute of Australia

Published on June 25, 2020

“Design is literally purposeful planning” – Chip Kidd

Let us start off by making a highly contentious statement: Everyone is a designer!  

When you choose to wake up on a particular side of the bed – you’re designing; When you choose to don a pair of slim fit denim with a tee – you’re designing; From the words we use and the people we choose to surround ourselves with, everyone makes design choices through the course of a day - a purposeful planning to accomplish certain goals. Let’s take a step back and figure out ‘Who is a designer?’

The dictionary states that design is to:
• Do or plan (a task) with a specific purpose in mind (intentionality)

A designer isn’t someone who holds a specific degree, nor someone who can make you look slim using Photoshop. We all make mundane design choices to address the problems we face – no matter how simple or complex it is.  But the only thing that separates you from a professional designer is: EXPERIENCE! Design is about gathering reference perceptions, understanding purpose and having the technical knowledge to deliver solutions. Experience helps you move from opinions and problems to finding practical solutions. However, in the world of User Experience (UX), a designer is not just anyone who devises solutions to mundane problems. We’re talking about people who have the aptitude and skills to gather people’s perceptions and translate them into solutions.  

So, let us go back to our contentious statement and alter it to the world of UX!  

Anyone can be a designer but not everyone is!  

Design in UX is a never-ending circle of understanding, creating, sharing, and refining. It is not a one-off thing.

WHAT IS UX DESIGN?

There is no generally accepted definition of what UX design is! In its basic understanding UX Design is about the process of designing products (digital or physical) that are easy to use, solves a problem and most importantly, creates a delightful user experience. It is important to remember that user experience is already out there. Our job as UX designers is to then make that experience better.  Here’s an everyday example to help you better understand UX design!  

Everyone loves a good bowl of cereal, don’t they? The content (cereal, milk, fruits) and the hardware or user interface (spoon) combined creates the user experience of eating a bowl of cereal. The size of the bowl, flavor of the cereal, company at the dining table, ambience of the room etc. contribute to the overall user experience. The job of a UX designer then is to ensure that all these factors are considered to deliver a positive user experience. A UX designer might not just be concerned about the experience of eating cereal but a host of other aspects like ease of finding the cereal at a supermarket, packaging of the product, and where it fits with other breakfast options for users. At the core of UX design is the USER! Rather than thinking about what you want to design, think about what will make the user’s experience better.

Every UX Designer needs to consider 3 key factors in working towards this: usefulness, usability and desirability. However, there are a host of other factors that form the basis of good UX Design.

People get stuck when they use products. The job of a UX is to then help them get ‘unstuck’ or to not get stuck in the first place by understanding and anticipating user motivations. At the heart of the UX Design process is EMPATHY! User experience is not just made of what they do, but also about perceptions and feelings. Every time a designer is planning a project, he/she needs to ask:  

‘What are people feeling and perceptions and why are they doing things a certain way?’ The quicker the designer can tap into this truth, the easier it is to deliver a useable, useful and desirable solution.

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