Before diving into the design world, like many others, I had no concept of what user experience design, known to insiders as UX, involved. What is the difference, if one exists, between user experience and user interface (UI) design?
UI design is a complex, iterative process of designing and structuring digital content. UX design is a little more ambiguous. It consists of first understanding your target audience and then figuring out the best way to structure your product or service to satisfy the audience.
In UI design, UX plays a very crucial part, ensuring users are able to successfully navigate their way through an interface in as quick and succinct path as possible.
In the early stages of the design process, research is conducted through audience surveys and user testing. In the user testing phase, participants interact with a very basic concept. Observing how people interact with your product is a very important step in the early stages of a project. Sometimes a complete overhaul of the design is required.
By analysing what has worked for others and testing our own design hypothesis, we are able to create the best experience for our users.
Although we usually speak about UX design in the digital sense, it is not limited to the design of websites and mobile apps. UX design expands across everything we use.
Some everyday products we know and love do the job they are meant to, but the experience could certainly be enhanced. Take, for example, a common household product such as the hand whisk and an electric hand mixer.
At the end of each process, you still achieve fluffy egg whites. However, the user’s experience of whisking a mixture by hand is much more strenuous and time consuming. Over time iterating with user testing and feedback, designers and engineers are able to improve technology, ergonomics and the process of completing this task.
When it comes to designing apps and websites, a poor UX can be very easily cloaked by an aesthetically pleasing interface, complemented by photography that would put most Magnum level photographers to shame. As important as this may be, the user will quickly realise that although this new app makes them appear trendy, they are also overcome with a desire to throw their mobile phone at a wall in frustration.
Poor UX means going back and forth between screens when completing a task. It means sighing every time you have to do six taps on your phone, when it should only take two. Poor UX is the feeling of annoyance.
Good UX is invisible. Great UX puts the user in charge and rewards them with a fluid, intuitive experience.