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What is User Experience (UX) Design?
User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
What UX Designers do goes Beyond UI Design
“User Experience Design” is often used interchangeably with terms such as “User Interface Design” and “Usability”. However, while usability and user interface (UI) design are important aspects of UX design, they are subsets of it – UX design covers a vast array of other areas, too. A UX designer is concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. It is a story that begins before the device is even in the user’s hands.
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“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences.
Products that provide great user experience (e.g., the iPhone) are thus designed with not only the product’s consumption or use in mind but also the entire process of acquiring, owning and even troubleshooting it. Similarly, UX designers don’t just focus on creating products that are usable; we concentrate on other aspects of the user experience, such as pleasure, efficiency and fun, too. Consequently, there is no single definition of a good user experience. Instead, a good user experience is one that meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where he or she uses the product.
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As a UX designer, you should consider the Why, What and How of product use. The Why involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with it or to values and views which users associate with the ownership and use of the product. The What addresses the things people can do with a product—its functionality. Finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasant way. UX designers start with the Why before determining the What and then, finally, the How in order to create products that users can form meaningful experiences with. In software designs, you will need to ensure the product’s “substance” comes through an existing device and offers a seamless, fluid experience.
UX Design is User-Centered
Since UX design encompasses the entire user journey, it’s a multidisciplinary field – UX designers come from a variety of backgrounds such as visual design, programming, psychology and interaction design. To design for human users also means you have to work with a heightened scope regarding accessibility and accommodating many potential users’ physical limitations, such as reading small text. A UX designer’s typical tasks vary, but often include user research, creating personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes as well as testing designs. These tasks can vary greatly from one organization to the next, but they always demand designers to be the users’ advocate and keep the users’ needs at the center of all design and development efforts. That’s also why most UX designers work in some form of user-centered work process, and keep channeling their best-informed efforts until they address all of the relevant issues and user needs optimally.
User-centered design is an iterative process where you take an understanding of the users and their context as a starting point for all design and development.