You’ve heard of UX Designers, but do you know what they actually do? The title can be a bit misleading. While design plays a role, UX designers do so much more. In a blog post from Nick Babich, a developer and self-proclaimed UX lover, titled What Does a UX Designer Actually Do?, he walks readers through six stages of UX design.
User experience, or UX, is all about what the user experiences while interacting with a product.
A UX designer’s role is directly involved in the process of making a product useful, usable and enjoyable for its users. - Nick Babich
Before even thinking about design, you need to start with product research, which includes both user and market research. Research is done through interviews with users and stakeholders, competitive analysis, online surveys, focus groups, etc. This information, both qualitative and quantitative is analyzed and used to make decisions about the design and function of a product. Those decisions involve business and technical factors, not just product design.
Who is this for? What do they need?
UX Design focuses on exactly who will use this product and who is going to pay for it. Is this for a typical teenage girl or is it for an elderly person? So the next step is to identify key users and create personas, fictitious identities to represent these users. Each persona identifies the user’s needs, motivations, and behaviors. Personas should represent real users.
Once personas are established, you create a narrative of how the product fits into the user’s daily life. These scenarios help identify all of the ways a user will use the product.
Now that you have a good idea of who will use your product and how, you can start creating the information architecture. This is the structure of the digital product that helps a user understand where they are on the website or application and how to find what they’re looking for. The structure consists of the navigation, hierarchies, and categorization.
We’re finally ready for design! Wireframes are typically low fidelity sketches of the page layout that illustrate the steps a user might take while using the product. Wireframes should be simple, are often created quickly, and serve as a guide when development and the high-fidelity design starts.
People are often intimidated to “imagine” working features from a static page, so building a quick, temporary model offers a better way to communicate the design. Those models are referred to as Prototypes and can range from simple paper sketches to interactive, high-fidelity web sites and applications. An experienced UX designer knows which type of prototype to use in each situation.
Test and Test Again
Product testing is a crucial step in the process. If the product looks good, but users have trouble interacting with it, the product is no good. This is why your product research at the very beginning is so important.
So now you have a working product! You’re done, right? Wrong.
UX design is a process of constant iteration. A UX designer’s work doesn’t stop with the product release, in fact, UX designers continue to learn which drives future updates. They launch with the best possible product, but they’re always prepared to learn and grow. - Nick Babich
Every industry involves users (music, healthcare, publishing, restaurant, to name a few). Therefore, every industry needs UX. It isn’t just a principle for designers; companies are always working to improve the experience of users and customers. Or they should be! The easiest way to grow is by having a product that people want to use, buy, and tell their friends about.
If you’re a graphic designer looking to transfer your skills to the digital world, UX design is a natural transition. If you’re already a web designer, learning to design for the user is essential in today’s market. However, UX design is not just for designers. The process is also beneficial for front-end developers (read about the Merging of Front-End Development and Product Design). And if you’re a product manager, understanding how users interact with your product is crucial to ensuring each product launch or update meets their needs.
We offer a 14 week part-time workshop that gives you hand-on introduction to the fundamentals of UI/UX for Digital Product Design. You’ll work through the six steps above for digital product design, learn the basics of HTML and CSS, learn how to present and defend ideas to clients, and more. Visit our course page to see the full syllabus and to enroll.