User Experience (UX) Designer

 
 

It’s a job title you’re hearing more and more these days, but what does a UX designer actually do? UX stands for User Experience, and one way to think of it is that it’s the “feel” in “look and feel.”

Traditional design has been focused on “the look,” or the design of each individual screen or graphic, but as digital technology—and our understanding of digital interactions—has grown, we’ve begun focusing more and more on “the feel,” or UX.

Design needs to encompass the entire experience—not just each screen or graphic, but how a user moves from screen to screen, how feedback is provided to the user, and how it all comes together to provide a positive experience. And that’s where UX comes in. UI and UX designers often work hand in hand, but their focus is different, and it’s important to understand why.

It’s a job title you’re hearing more and more these days, but what does a UX designer actually do? UX stands for User Experience, and one way to think of it is that it’s the “feel” in “look and feel.”

Traditional design has been focused on “the look,” or the design of each individual screen or graphic, but as digital technology—and our understanding of digital interactions—has grown, we’ve begun focusing more and more on “the feel,” or UX.

Design needs to encompass the entire experience—not just each screen or graphic, but how a user moves from screen to screen, how feedback is provided to the user, and how it all comes together to provide a positive experience. And that’s where UX comes in. UI and UX designers often work hand in hand, but their focus is different, and it’s important to understand why.

Each job and each project is a little bit different, but there are five main steps for UX designers.

1. Research

It’s extremely important to understand the market and to try to get into the heads of users. What do they need, what are they looking for—and what aren’t they getting in the current market? Start with the client brief, but don’t stop there. Once you know what the client wants, and what they think their users are looking for—dig deeper. And don’t forget to look at the competition—a competitive analysis can provide a lot of valuable insight. What’s already out there? How can you help your client improve upon it?

2. Create Personas

Based on the research you’ve done, and the info in the client brief, the next step is to identify key user groups and create representative personas. Instead of just thinking of a big group of potential users, such as students, or social media managers, give them names and more specific personal details—John, the student, or Kate, the social media manager. It might feel a little awkward at first, but thinking of them as actual people will help you walk through the different user scenarios and consider all of the angles.

3. Initial Information Architecture

Once you’ve done the research and created personas, it’s time to define the initial IA, or Information Architecture. Whether you’re designing an app or a website, and whether this is a new product or a redesign, make sure you think through all of the steps that a user might take while interacting with your product. No matter how small or insignificant it might seem—include everything. Sketch it on a whiteboard, draw it on paper, or use a program, whatever works best for you. The key is to get it all down so you can start making sense of it.

4. Wireframes

Once the initial IA has been determined, it’s time to move into something more advanced—wireframes. Wireframes represent each screen or step that a user might take while interacting with your product. These should be clickable, although they don’t need to have full functionality. And of course, at this point, you aren’t worried about the UI, or interface design—although you’ll want to make sure the client is well-informed on this point, to avoid any confusion. The focus here is on determining the flow and identifying which key features to keep in, and which may need to be left out or revised. You’ll also be identifying and designing, all of the small interactions that create the overall experience, like success and error screens. At this step, you’ll likely be working with both the client and with your UI counterpart, who will be working on the overall visual design language, waiting for final direction on the screens and graphics that will be needed. The wireframes are your blueprint, and final wireframes will drive both development and visual design.

5. User Testing

UX design is a process, and at this point, it’s important to bring in outside voices to test your assumptions. If you can do a full moderated review, that’s great. There are wonderful user testing agencies that provide highly professional and detailed testing and results. But if you can’t do that, don’t worry—find others at your agency who can help with testing. As long as they aren’t part of this project team, they can still provide fresh eyes and valuable feedback. Remember to pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal feedback—it’s not only about what they tell you, but what you can observe of their behavior.

Source 1: https://envato.com/blog/what-does-a-ux-designer-do/

Source 2: https://uxdesignersalaries.com