Now that we’ve given you a #101 on What UX Design is, you might be asking yourself: What does all of this mean? What do UX Designers do daily?
If you’re a newbie to the world of UX, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! Because of the complex and varied nature of the role, it is rather difficult to zero in on the exact job description of a UX Designer. Adding to this relative complexity is how UX Design is often used alternatively with UI Design.
Before we start unpacking what a UX Designer does, it would be worthwhile to pay attention what UX Design entails.
Don Norman, a cognitive scientist, credited with coining the term ‘UX Design’ provides the following understanding:
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, it’s services, and its products.”
That sounds like an easy understanding. But you might ask: What encompasses good user experience?
“The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want or providing checklist features.”
Therefore, the primary expectation from a good UX Designer is to ensure a product’s overall design is useful, useable, and desirable at every stage.
WHAT DOES A UX DESIGNER’S DAY LOOK LIKE?
There is no typical day in the life of a UX Designer! But there are several processes that UX Designers will go through to achieve a desirable product or service. Let’s look at them.
As with any other field, the first stage of the design process begins with RESEARCH! Research is the ‘butter’ to the ‘bread’ that is the UX Design process. It provides the designer with key details on the kind of users they are designing for. Let’s take an example to understand why research is important: Apple approaches you for research about a new app they’re developing. This would include reviewing what existing websites and apps have to offer, talking to existing users to understanding their experience and how it can be improved, and undertaking a comprehensive analysis of competitors.
Research would enable designers to map out what users want, what are their motivations for using a product/service and what features should be included in the app to deliver a Minimum Viable Product.
Bottom line – this is where all the magic happens.
UNDERSTANDING USER PERSONAS
Once the initial research has been conducted, the designer would then work on identifying key user personas. Simply put, a user persona is a fictious or imagined profile of a person who would be using the product or service being developed. User personas help designers visualize and interpret data about user behaviour and motivations that was gathered during the research phase. In visualizing user personas, the designer would be able to relate and empathize with end users on their experience with a product or service.
Typically, user personas as noted as examples from everyday life when the user might interact with the product/service. Let’s jump back to our Apple example. A possible user persona could be:
‘Tim, a 30-year-old male frequently visits the Apple e-store to purchase latest gadgets and updates as it saves effort and time taken to physically visit a store.’
Creating everyday scenarios helps the UX Designer to understand the different stages of how users interact with the product or service.
The next step is for the designer to organize the content that will be feature in the app and deciding the best way to structure. This is called information architecture – devising a blueprint of how information will be structure across the app. Think of it as how road signs help users get from point A to point B. Similarly, an optimum information architecture allows the user to navigate different pages of the app intuitively, without putting in much thought.
Here is an example of a sitemap showing the hierarchy between pages and content on a website.
Image credit: Behance / Anton Suprunenko
Wireframing is the most associated task with being a UX Designer. Wireframes are visualisations which map out the positioning and placement of where every element will go on each page of the app. It is a rough representation of each step of the user’s journey in their interaction with the app. How you choose to design your wireframe is completely your choice –some people prefer drawing it by hand while others are comfortable using applications like Balsamiq or Invision. Wireframes are a critical step to help web developers to code content during the app development phase.
An example of a wireframe for a mobile app.
Image credit: Dribble / Mert Oztopkara
‘HANG IN THERE! WE’RE ALMOST DONE’
PROTOTYPING & USER TESTING
Think of prototyping as a more refined and polished version of a wireframe – a small-scale simulation which can be tested on users. This is the last stage before the product launch – so every effort needs to be made to ensure the prototype is a perfect representation of what the finished product will look like.
Once a prototype has been developed, it’s time for user testing!
Getting users to try out the app and asking them to perform specific functions is the fundamental premise of user testing. The idea behind this stage is to correct practical flaws in design that users might experience. One can go through multiple stages of user testing depending on budget and time constraints. Once the team is satisfied with the final version – YOU’RE GOOD TO GO!
You might think the UX Designer’s job is done there! Rather, UX Design is a constant iterative process and good designers are always on the lookout for user feedback to incorporate it into future designs. As the noble saying goes: ‘There’s always room for improvement’
As with any profession, knowledge and practice are key to excel in UX Design. Whether you’re a newbie or understand UX Design, you should always be on the lookout on opportunities to expand your skills.
If you liked the sound of everything you just read, you should check out our fully immersive and end-to-end UX Design program and everything you need to kick start your career in this field!