Apr 14

What is UX Design?

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:20 — julie

UX design is one of the most important and often misunderstood segments of the design process. Often, many design projects place the least emphasis on the overall user experience, whereas, at other times, user interface is mistaken as user experience. In either case, the outcome is disastrous.

As such, the role of the UX designer becomes crucial to the success of any design project. Now, what makes a good UX designer and what is UX design? In this post, I will attempt to answer these question.

How is a UX Designer Different?

UX design is different, but does that mean a UX designer is different from other designers too? If so, how?

Simply put, a UX designer cannot afford to take luxuries that might be available to other designers. For instance, a web designer can complain about poor content that does not go well with the design. Similarly, a graphic designer can complain about things that are beyond the scope of his or her work.

Image Source: Dilbert.com.Image Source: Dilbert.com.

However, as a UX designer, there is not much that falls beyond the jurisdiction of your work. Your role is to design the perfect user experience — and speaking of that; user experience is not really something that you can design. Instead, it is something that is achieved.

As a result, a UX designer is directly responsible for everything and anything that can closely or remotely affect the user experience. A UX designer needs to be able to accept challenges and focus on improvement of the overall user experience.

Speaking of UX…

UX And UI: What’s the Deal?

More often than not, UX is mistaken to be the same as UI. I have seen multiple design publications use the terms UX and UI interchangeably.

But in reality, there is a very fine line between UX and UI, and you cannot mistake one for the other. User Interface, in simple words, refers to the actual interface that the user is expected to use.

Image Source: Dilbert.com.Image Source: Chris Spalton.

Let us take up the case of your own word processor. UI refers to the overall look: the toolbars, the text area, the formatting bar, everything. But if you were to decorate your toolbars in the best manner possible, will you do a favor to your UX?

UX Design is More Than Just “Design”.

Another point that needs to be noted is that UX design has more to it than just design. In fact, design is just one face of the coin: real merits lie in the implementation of the overall UX design. Here is an example to drive home this point:

amazon

Let us go no further than Amazon. The overall interface can surely use a facelift (to be frank, it looks ridiculously dated and out of place to me, especially as compared to other eCommerce sites in Amazon’s league). However, their website scores full points on the UX scale.

Why?

Because the average user faces very little issues in using Amazon’s website. Let us break it down:

  1. First up, the gigantic search bar leaves very little room for anyone to feel lost while searching for a given product.
  2. Secondly, the navigation labels are always there — simple text links, with no decoration. Eye candy? Nope. Effective? Yep!
  3. More importantly, Amazon leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting the message across. Say, the user is worried about security and privacy? Amazon have explained it all right there. To Cash on Delivery or not to Cash on Delivery? You can find it right there, without even scrolling down!

While Amazon may score badly on the UI front, the UX on their website is effective and gets the job done with ease. As a result, UX in itself is beyond design — Amazon’s successful UX approach shows that good UX is a combination of good design strategy, a well laid-out site plan, properly thought and implemented content gameplan, and so on.

Appraisal

As can be seen, user experience is a challenging task, and mastering it is even more challenging. However, a good UX designer knows all that and is not shy of going beyond the expected norms.

In other words, good UX design happens when you use every aspect of the design process — be it web development, the mockups, or the copy edits — and arrive at a proper UX strategy that can make the end user’s lives easier.

Are you a UX designer? Got any tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments below!

Tuts+ logoIf you would like to learn more about UX design, Tuts+ have an extensive learning guide, entitled UX Foundations, that includes straight-forward introductions, all of the tools you will ever need and detailed workflows tutorials.

Header and social image source: UI UX Development by .

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