Most people have heard the term user experience regarding website design for both enterprise and small business websites, but some may not know much about the meaning. So let’s start from the beginning.
What does user experience mean?
The term “user experience” is straightforward. It refers to the overall experience of a person consuming an app or website. It’s a relative term, and most people expect the rating of that encounter to be pleasant.
User experience design is a discipline that arose to create ideal experiences for users.
UX Vs. UI
UI is a component of UX and relates closely to graphic design. However, UX goes a step further and brings in technical aspects such as research and testing.
The History of UX
There was a time before UX existed when people didn’t have a way to prove whether a user’s experience was right or not.
Dan Norman, the director of the University of California, San Diego’s Design Lab, and Nielsen Norman Group, receives extensive credit for creating the modern term. He did so in the 1990s, even though some of the concepts were in existence before that time.
The idea is evolving, but at some level, it involves watching real people use products in real situations. Developers who don’t spend time around non-technical people don’t always grasp how they use interfaces. Watching them can remove many of the bottlenecks that make using certain products unpleasant.
Unsurprisingly, UX caught on in the technology sector because products people hate don’t stay popular for long.
Nielsen Norman Group says that UX is almost all-encompassing and covers many areas.
- The development team discovers how the products work precisely.
- What’s the experience like for customers who are buying or opening it for the first time?
- What happens when an old user wants to upgrade to a new product.
- Is the product easy to learn?
- What happens with tech support and education on the product after purchase?
With these questions in mind, the team builds the project and takes it through many iterations until it achieves its ideal vision.
UX Design Disciplines: The Quadrant Model
As you may guess, The Quadrant Model tackles UX by breaking it into four convenient categories.
Experience Strategy (ExS)
This term refers to a company’s activities surrounding a series of interactions they deliver. It concerns itself with a two-way connection between its products and the end-user. The ExS is the mechanism to fulfill both needs.
Interaction Design (IxD)
The discipline of Interaction Design centers around how the end-user sees an interface. The key goals are to make it engaging and attractive to keep people around. Company’s that measure these interactions watch the time spent on animations, buttons, and transitions. Their objective as a designer is to use the service effortlessly on the user’s behalf.
User Research (UR)
All businesses need to understand their user’s needs. Most of them attempt to do this by asking questions and conducting surveys. In addition, they will directly question them about price and service quality through feedback mechanisms.
To get feedback, they’ll collect data and connect with them online. Then their team will analyze the compiled data to make decisions about product design.
This is an ideal approach to UX in some ways because the design comes directly from feedback.
Information Architecture concerns itself with organizing data and product information. Therefore, the final design must be in a simple format to use and accessible for all users. They should be able to glean all pertinent information readily.
The UX Web Design Process
The UX web design process differs from the normal consult, sketch, and design steps for most web designers. Let’s go through the steps.
1. The Consultation
This is the first and possibly most important step of UX design. A consultation is procured with the client to discuss and discover all website goals. Are they selling something? Is it meant to draw attention to the organization? To educate? To establish interaction? All websites have or should have a purpose. As a UX designer, you must figure out what that purpose is by asking the right questions and extricating the information from the client.
Once the website’s goals are clearly defined between designer and client, research can begin. The research is intended to define the users (or content consumers), their level of technical proficiency, demographics, and goals.
These users become known as personas and define the categories of people who currently use the site (market audience) with those who want to use the site (target audience). Research is instrumental in making sure the site matches its target audience.
3. Website Sitemap
This step roughly sketches out the map of the site’s information and user flow. For example, how will the user act when they come to the site? What is their intended path? Or the client’s intended path for the user? Where do we want to direct them?
As an example, Home > Product info > Product Choice > Cart > Set up account > Order confirmation.
Laying out a diagram of site pages and the intended user path will present an excellent model for designing the site.
4. User interactions
The next step is to write stories based on how users will use the site and navigate it according to their personas. These short stories are merely a way for the designer to get inside a user’s head and generate possible decisions. To get inside a user’s head, the UX specialist must ask the questions they will ask, and short stories are a perfect way to create likely scenarios.
This step can be interchanged with step 3. Some sites will benefit from beginning with user stories and then mapping out the site flow. That is your decision.
Wireframes (or detailed illustrations) are created of the site pages to share with the client before the website design process begins.
The wireframes give you and your client ample opportunity to further consider the user and their goals by outlining how users will transition between them. These highly comprehensive illustrations resolve the size and location of page elements, but the focus is on the site’s layout.
These designs are created through Photoshop, Illustrator, Keynote, or any other program you are comfortable with. An excellent website for element pieces is Keynotopia. This site offers pre-made website pieces and allows for animated interaction between them. They cut down on design time and present your work professionally.
6. Test prototypes
This step is not always possible due to time and monetary restraints, but it will teach you oodles about your designs and how users interact with them.
This occurs by gathering users of the determined targeted demographic to test out the site or do a thorough walk-through. For example, from the homepage, where would they go? Was it hard to navigate? Is the flow simplified enough for them? Can they find the necessary elements? Is the overall goal of the website met?
Using the test evaluations, any necessary changes to the design can be made in confidence.
7. The final step
After all of the previous steps are complete, this is where the actual design of the website begins and where most UX designers exit.
UX designers specialize in Usability Design, Information Architecture, and Software Development. Their input and expertise generally lay the foundation of solid design work before a web designer creates the website.
Hopefully, this explanation helps to clarify the process of UX design and inspires you as a web designer to begin incorporating these steps into your own work processes. You don’t have to be a UX pro to use these steps to better your business.
Whitney Quesenbery’s 5Es
Whitney Quesenbery provides people with five crucial elements of UX, all beginning with the letter “E.” Whitney Quesenbery serves as co-director for the Center for Civic Design, and her work involves making government projects as accessible as possible.
- Effective – The effectiveness of the project is whether or not it achieves its objectives.
- Efficient -efficiency relates to how quickly the team can finish the project.
- Engaging – is the interface pleasant for users to experience?
- Error Tolerant – does the product help prevent errors? If there is one, how fast can the user recover?
- Easy to Learn – how hard is the product to learn throughout its entire lifetime.
Using a framework like this allows the designer to consider the balanced needs of the project. These rules apply to usability, intending to find the best solution every time.
Almost all five “E’s” relate to the speed and proficiency users develop using the product. If they struggle to recover from errors, it puts a drag on their capacity and is negative. However, it’s possible to build ideal experiences for users with the proper ideas in mind.
Terms to Know
So, you want to be a leading UX designer? Great, that’s a fantastic choice, and there are a few terms you’ll want to know. Once you have a grounding in the fundamentals, you will move in the right direction.
A/B testing involves taking two iterations and testing them each to determine better.
It’s a vital part of testing because it offers an unemotional view of objectively improving iteration.
How the developer presents the information for the product to end-users. The way they interact with things is a function of how well the IA resonates.
These are the issues the user hopes to solve by using the product. Even an amazingly designed app or site doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fulfill its primary purpose.
A prototype is the working model for your project. It’s a first iteration idea that the expression of the design idea in physical form.
Having one of these helps sell the project everywhere along the corporate value chain.
Impress management and investors by working with the first version of the product.
This is the discipline of making a website and apps appear correctly, no matter what device is used. Through various techniques, developers assure that everyone sees the same thing, no matter how they consume it. In addition, a responsive design ensures that the UX is top-notch.
A sitemap provides an easy-to-understand navigational hierarchy. It helps boost UX for websites, especially with lots of pages and a complex structure.
A user flow diagram is similar to a task flow but with more paths. In addition, user flows attach to entry points and specific users.
Website wireframes are visual guides that represent a skeleton framework of a potential website., It shows where the visual elements are to accomplish precise purposes.
Attention to detail is a crucial ingredient for UX design. That concentration has to extend to feedback and testing to ensure that the final offering is polished and ready for mass adoption. With scalable products, mistakes also increase at a rapid pace. Nothing turns off potential customers faster than clunky, buggy interfaces.
It’s an Ideal Time for UX Beginners
Every expert in UX was once a beginner. The subject covers a lot of ground, but it is fascinating. There’s a healthy demand for people in the profession, so getting a foundational education in the subject is a fantastic first step.
There’s no chance that the demand for UX designers will slow down in the coming years. Products are competitive, and no company can afford to neglect rigorous testing and design standards. Without feedback from customers, they cannot compete.
UX is fascinating, especially for product developers who get to see the results of their vision in the real world. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to visualize the different ways users may approach something. Sometimes the assertion will be wrong, and there will be changes needed.
There’s No Shortage of Education Opportunities for UX Design
Beginners to the study of UX design will experience a wealth of resources and information. In addition, there are online courses of various costs, including free ones that will help establish a foundation of knowledge.
These educational opportunities lead to a series of high-paying careers.
It’s worth pursuing several skills to move along your career path.
- Knowledge of markup languages like XML and HTML is vital.
- CSS coding is a necessary skill.
- It pays to understand interface design.
- Image editing with a popular program is excellent.
- A thorough grounding in usability testing pays.
- Backend development experience is a plus.
The list goes on. The point is that a strong foundation in the lingua franca of the web and apps will pay off.
Practical experience is the direct way to delve into the field. Developing pages and apps that people use will help any developer gain insights into making a better UX.
Placing yourself in your user’s shoes is a fast way to build empathy and understand what they think of your design. Then, make their lives better, along with your own, by putting out thoroughly tested products that work well and receiving rave reviews.