UX design or user experience design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences for users. UX design involves the design of the entire product acquisition and integration process, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
UX design includes not only the usability of the software, but also the design of the other experiences related to the product, for example: the marketing campaign, packaging and after-sales support. Most importantly, user experience (UX) design is about delivering solutions that address pain points and needs. After all, no one will use a product that serves no purpose.
What is UX design?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines user experience or UX design as:
With that definition in mind, we can explain UX design in two parts:
- A person’s perceptions and responses.
- The use of a product, system or service.
In user experience, designers don’t have much control over a person’s perceptions and responses, the first part of the definition. For example, they cannot control how someone feels, how they move their fingers, or how they control their eyes while using a product. However, designers can control the behavior and appearance of the product, system or service: the second part of the definition.
The simplest way to think of user experience design is as a verb and a noun. A UX designer designs (verb)-ideas, plans, changes-what affects the user experience (noun)-perceptions and responses to a system or service.
Why is it called “UX design”?
UE was used before UX
The first recorded instance of “User Experience” as a job function comes from a 1995 Apple document. It explained a new procedure for products, starting with the creation of a “User Experience Requirements Document” (UERD).
Saying the first syllable of each word User Experience sounds like UX. A single abbreviation can mean many different things and a quick search reveals 47 definitions for UE and only 9 definitions for UX.
If indeed Apple introduced the term “User Experience” using the initials UE back in 1995, they seem to agree that UX is the term that professionals understand and use today.
The earliest historical reference I could find to the etymology of UX design is from a 2005 UX Week conference by Adaptive Path, which has organized the conference every year since, though reference on their website; barely a few photos from the event.
Most other references to the term begin in 2008, with cognitive psychologist and designer Don Norman coining the term “user experience” in the 1990s, in a more formal way, understanding UX as:
A term we instantly associate with apps and websites.
If you are new to the field of user experience, this will serve as an introduction and, if you are a seasoned professional, it will make you think differently.
The work of UX designers
UX designers consider the why, what and how of product use. UX designers start with the Why before determining the What and ultimately the How to create products that users can have meaningful experiences with. In software designs, you have to make sure that the “substance” of the product comes through an existing device and delivers a seamless and fluid experience.
As a UX designer, you must consider the Why, What and How of the product’s use. The “Why” refers to users’ motivations for adopting a product, either in relation to a task they want to perform with it or to the values and views users associate with owning and using the product. The“What” refers to the things people can do with a product: its functionality. Finally, the“How” refers to designing the functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasing way.
What UX designers do goes beyond user interface design. A UX designer deals with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including branding, design, usability and function. It’s a story that begins before the device is even in the user’s hands.
A UX designer tries to answer, for example, the question, “How can we make the experience of interacting with a computer, smartphone, product, or service as intuitive, seamless, and enjoyable as possible?”
Similarly, they focus on creating usable products, but rather concentrate on other aspects of the user experience, such as pleasure, efficiency and fun. Consequently, there is no single definition of a good user experience. Instead, a good user experience meets the needs of a particular user in the specific context in which he or she uses the product.
What profession should a UX designer have?
UX designers come from a variety of backgrounds, such as visual design, programming, psychology and interaction design. Designing for human users also means working with a wider scope when it comes to accessibility and accommodating the physical limitations of many potential users, such as reading small text.
What should a UX designer do?
The typical tasks of a UX designer vary, but often include user research, creating personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes, and testing designs. These tasks can vary considerably from organization to organization. However, they always require designers to be advocates for users and keep their needs at the center of all design and development efforts. That’s why most UX designers work in some form of user-centric work process and continue to channel their best-informed efforts until they address all relevant issues and user needs optimally.
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