User experience design, or short simply UX design, begins long before any device is in the hands of a user. It focuses on the interaction between users and products or services and combines many different business aspects.
In this article, we will explain how important it is to attract new visitors, take a closer look at what a UX designer actually does, and what UX design needs to focus on to be successful in the long run.
What exactly is UX Design?
Let us start by establishing what UX design really is. We talk about UX design since the early nineties, when Don Norman, a former cognitive scientist for Apple, first started focussing on the aspects of a user’s experience that included design and graphics. There is no single definition of what user experience is.
Still, Don, which is considered the inventor of the term User Experience, explains it as follows:
“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service, from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
The term UX design has grown significantly over the last decade. However, you still use UX design today to create a meaningful and relevant shopping experience or “using” experience to your audience. Good UX always meets a user’s needs in a specific context. You have to ask yourself if the user experience you provide is efficient, logical, and if it takes minimum effort to complete any desired tasks.
UX design has to determine how the user feels while engaging with a website. Usability and User Interface (UI) design are also part of UX design. Nowadays, without the right combination of design, it is hard for any business to succeed on the market. Companies that offer excellent user experience have an advantage over companies that do not focus on the users’ needs or wishes.
What is bad UX design?
So, what are indicators of bad UX design? This can be best illustrated in a short story:
Imagine you grab your computer or smartphone and go online to shop for a new pair of trendy jeans. First, you need to find the right store. After that, you navigate to the pants category to start browsing the pairs they offer. If the store has hundreds of pants in their selection and there are no filters you can use, you will have to scroll through all pairs, which can take you a very long time. But for now, let us say you found the one pair you really want and add them to your shopping cart.
You are ready to checkout and make a purchase. As a new customer, they ask you to create a new account, which requires you to fill in a lot of fields you think are not necessary, like what is your age. You decide that the whole process is taking too long and you leave the shop to buy your pair of jeans from the competition.
Here you have it. Bad user experience is bad for business and any kind of customer relationship.
The job of a UX designer: A glimpse behind the scenes
UX designers need to have technical and design skills to do a good job. Moreover, they need to be good communicators and enjoy solving problems. You have to focus on the company goals and the needs of the targeted audience at the same time. No matter if you are coming up with a new design for a product or you are focusing on a new feature, a UX designer is a responsible advocate for the end-user and to make products and technology usable but also easily accessible. Sometimes, a UX designer also has to make changes to existing products or services while considering what is best for the customer and the user experience. The goal is to meet the needs of the business and to ensure that it aligns with the brand’s vision as well as it can help to create long-term customer relationships. Typically, a UX designer goes through each step in the design process and assures that everything is designed with the end-user in mind.
Why – What – How
A UX designer does not just have to consider “why you should use it,” but also “what the actual purpose is,” and “how to use a product or service.” To figure out the “why,” you have to take a closer look at the user’s motivation for using a specific product or service. It could involve a special task they want to perform or views they share with your company. You ask the “what” question to answer what the users plan on doing with the product is or what problem you can help them to solve by using a special service. The “how” addresses the functionality and how it can be aesthetically pleasing while working well. Generally, you start with the “why,” go on to the “what,” and, last but not least, you can determine the “how.”
- Make it user-centered
UX design is a multidisciplinary field, but the work process has to be user-centered to be successful. It combines visual design, psychology, and programming to make the user happy. Your audience has to be the center of all development and design efforts. The experts of 101domain explain the importance of responsive web design, which is another aspect of user-centered design.
- Conduct research
Every UX design process starts with doing a sufficient amount of field research to get a full picture of what audience you are actually designing for. The research can include reviewing the current website, looking at what the competition does, or analyzing data from the past. You can also take a look at outstanding WordPress themes to get an idea about what works well and what does not. The team of Millo recently published an article about which themes can make your website stand out. The research phase can help you to scope out the project, allows you to identify opportunities as well as friction points, and will narrow down the goals and needs of your users.
- Create a testing persona
A lot of UX design projects rely on creating a testing persona to dig deeper into what each customer or client expects from your company. This process can show you the typical user flow and the path they take from the first encounter to a purchase.
- Test before the launch
Before you go live with any design, you have to run some user tests. You can use a prototype, a relatively scaled-down version of your new website, which allows you to test a simulation of your designs before you change it. Testing it on real users is essential to find out what works and where you still have some design flaws.
Since the process and people’s preferences are changing all the time, the work of a UX designer is usually not done after the launch of the product of service. Be prepared for changes and accept feedback as well as discuss results from running analytics regularly.