As technology becomes increasingly complex, many businesses are turning to UX design to help create rich, interactive experiences for their customers. So, what is UX design?
UX, or user experience, describes how users interact with a product, either physical or digital. It encompasses the overall feeling a user is left with after using a product, whether positive or negative. UX design is important to businesses because accessibility and ease of use are becoming more and more important to consumers.
Most consumers access multiple websites, apps, and platforms throughout the day and often on different devices. Because of this, consumers are putting more importance on having a positive experience with a product and brand. Consumers will quickly turn somewhere else if a design isn’t visually appealing, isn’t easy to use, and doesn’t seamlessly meet their needs. They expect a product to grab their attention and provide value in just a few seconds. Without a well-thought-out UX design, you may be losing customers.
So, how can you use UX design to retain customers and even gain new ones? Let’s start with the elements and responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of “UX design.”
Elements of UX Design
UX design is often compared to graphic design. Many people believe UX design is creating a website, app, or product that looks good to consumers. However, crafting a great user experience is more than just visuals. It encompasses the usability, value, look, and feel of the product that leads to the overall experience of a user. UX design is intricate and involves a combination of different skill sets, but here are a few of the main responsibilities:
Often, the term user interface (UI) is used interchangeably with UX. However, UI is only one part of the overall user experience. UI is the interaction between the user and the interface, whereas UX is the emotional outcome of the experience. UI is important to UX design and focuses mainly on the usability of the interface. Is it easy to use? Are the elements of the design recognized by the user? Is the information organized and laid out clearly? Any touch point between the user and the interface falls under UI.
Although it doesn’t entirely comprise a great user experience, a major part of UX design is visual or graphic design. The physical design ensures that the look of the product is pleasing to users. For a website or app, this includes the number of images, the amount of content, and the way information is divided up.
The visual design is especially important for the user experience on mobile devices. More and more people are using their mobile phones as opposed to desktops, so the visual design must cater to smaller screen sizes. This does not mean simply shrinking the whole design but instead making the design feel like it was made to be viewed on a mobile device. Another important visual element is establishing clear and consistent branding across the product. This includes using the same color scheme, fonts, voice, and overall theme.
You might not realize that content strategy is a part of UX design, but the amount, type, and format of content can greatly impact the design of a product. Great UX design should be centered around the content, not the other way around. For instance, a website that needs a large amount of written content will have a completely different layout, feel, and click path than a website that requires more images and videos. Don’t forget that your content strategy and UX design go hand in hand.
Typical UX Design Process
UX design is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It depends on the business, the user, and the goals of the design. However, there are pillars in the design process that help lead to a better user experience.
The first step of the UX design process is user research. To make design decisions based on user needs and wants, you must first understand what those needs and wants are. User research for UX design is different than general market research because it is more specific to the product or interface and how users interact with it.
User research will give you insights into what your customers are looking for and help you make critical design decisions. Get input from real users to conduct user research. We often believe that our design and interface preferences are the same as others. However, that’s a dangerous assumption. To design a website that will truly attract and keep users, your user research must be thorough and accurate.
Once a UX designer has completed initial research, they will start designing the actual product. There are many different phases of this step, and everyone’s process will look slightly different. Many times, UX designers will begin with defining the information architecture (IA). The IA is the arrangement of information in a way that makes sense and is easy for users to navigate. It helps users understand where they are and where they need to go to find other relevant content.
During the design stage, UX designers will create wireframes and prototypes for the website, app, or other product. A wireframe is a representative design of each step a user might take while interacting with a product. Typically, wireframes are simple designs that are created quickly. A prototype, on the other hand, is similar to a wireframe, but more detailed and used for testing. Prototypes are not the final product but should imitate the look, feel, and usability of the final product. Prototypes are often used for testing and determining validation for the final design.
Usability testing is when UX designers gather feedback to determine if the design is intuitive, easy to use, and offers an overall positive experience for users. Most often prototypes are used for this testing and designers observe users as they interact with the website, app, or product. Based on observations, changes can be made before the design is finalized.
Once the design is finalized, the website, app, or product is built. However, the UX design process is not over. UX design is an ongoing process that will evolve and change over time. As new products enter the market or trends change, UX designers will continue to make adjustments to the design. These are often small changes rolled out through updates, although sometimes a brand will decide to do a complete rebuild and redesign. Just remember that UX design is continually shifting and changing.
So, Why is UX Design Important?
Overall, UX design is a growing field that can have a major impact on your business. You want your customers to have a positive user experience while interacting with your website or product and focusing on UX helps accomplish that. Here at Firetoss, we are committed to helping you provide the greatest user experience for your customers. We look at UX design through multiple disciplines, such as SEO, PPC, and web development. Contact us today if you want to improve your UX design.