CommonLounge Archive

What is UX Design?

October 05, 2017

What does a UX designer actually do?

If you ask five different people you’re going to get five different answers to this question. In this article, we are not only going to explain what UX design is, but also why we believe you should find out more about it regardless of your job.

UX stands for user experience. When we say user experience, we’re referring to the what, when, where, why, and how someone uses a product as well as who that person is. These cover the user experience of a product. It is pretty much everything that affects the user’s interaction with that product.

UX helps the user in achieving his purpose of using the product, considering that the purpose should be completed with ease and in an uncomplicated way.

A UX designer is someone who designs these interactions. They are constantly asking a ton of questions. If you’re someone who naturally questions things, UX design could be a great career for you because it’s the answers to these questions that shape a product’s design.

Of course, it’s not all about the user’s needs. UX designers need to take into account the business’ needs as well. It’s no use having a product that people love if it doesn’t help a business achieve this goal. That’s not a product — that’s a side project. UX Designers have to design for that sweet spot where user needs and business needs overlap.

Here we can reconsider the previous point of achieving the user goal with ease because the user’s success is inclined with the company’s success.

So, how do they do this other than by asking a lot of questions? A UX designer follows what’s called a user centered design process:

We use a set of tools and techniques to take the users’ needs into account at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.

We use product because these techniques apply for web apps, mobile apps, desktop apps, or even physical products.

Why should you care about UX Design?

The reasons why we think you should learn more about UX:

  1. You’re probably doing some of this already. And it pays to become good at what you’re already doing. One thing we’ve learned is that when you understand how it is that you do what you do, you become infinitely better at it. Like the fable about the centipede, who, when asked how it was that he walked, couldn’t give an answer. But, when he picked himself up and examined and flexed each of his hundred legs, he danced the most beautiful dance in the world.
  2. User centered design is a process, which means it’s practically scientific: Just like the scientific method, UX Design is about applying analysis and measurement to humans and their behaviors. This notion that designers are artistic geniuses with a penchant for cutting off their own ear is far from the truth. This is a science - well a quasi-science, which leads us to the third reason.
  3. UX matters: It’s not that hard, especially for people who are already technically inclined. Anyone can learn the basics of user testing and card sorting and writing scenarios, and creating wireframes. It is actually very straightforward. As one of the pioneers of UX Design, Steve Krug says, “This stuff is not rocket surgery”.
  4. It’s fun: This stuff is fascinating! A career as a UX designer is interesting: it’s challenging, it’s rewarding, it pays well and has a low barrier to entry. A lot of people feel uncomfortable calling themselves a designer because they’re no good at choosing a typeface, or a color palette. Get over it! UX design is the design behind the visuals. Visual design is just one small part of it. Some of the best UX designers actually aren’t that great at their visual designs, but they’re really good at those other areas that are also important.

So, while you might hear terms like information architects, user interface designer, interaction designer, or usability specialists; these can all be considered UX professionals. They might specialize in marketing or technology. Or, maybe they come from a user research social media, or even customer support background. Either way, they’re all asking a ton of questions and following a quasi-scientific process to do the design behind the visuals, and they’re having a blast doing it.

If this stuff interests you, you may very well be well placed to have a promising career as a UX designer.

Thanks to Matt from UX Mastery for the video below. The article above is an edited and abridged transcript of the video.

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