What is UX Design

User Experience

UX or User Experience is the experience a user has while interacting with a product, this product could be anything from:

  • Mobile Apps
  • Website
  • Watch
  • Desk
  • Even a pack of chips that you buy from the grocery store

The experience can be anything from how a user interacts and feels about a product, before, during and after use of that product. You see this is very important since users very often relate their experience with a product to its founding company and brand and it could be deciding factor of that user wanting to ever use that product again and recommend it to others, or hate it and never return to it. That is what makes good User Experience so vital to businesses.

What does a UX Designer do

At its most basic form UX Designers identify and solve User’s problems during the life cycle of a product, let’s have a look at an example and see what might a designer need to think about while designing a product.

A good and classic example of this would be this ketchup bottle vs this other one, you might’ve seen this before, one is made of glass, looks nice, one is plastic and flexible making it easier for a user to take out sauce. In order to design a bottle like this we need to think about how a user would use this Ketchup bottle, let’s break it down:

  1. We can start by identifying who the user is:
    • In this example their age
    • Their budget
    • Their experience with sauce?
    • And more
  2. Let’s think about when our user first interacts with this bottle,
    • the user would go to buy this bottle from a supermarket, first the aesthetic of this bottle needs to achieve a few things:
    • Allow the user to identify what this product is and what it does, in this case without reading the label they need to identify that this bottle is most likely ketchup.
    • The labelling needs to be pleasing to the user’s eye and stand out from the rest of the competition and noise surrounding it.
    • If the user still has questions to make a decision on whether or not they want to but this bottle they can find that at the back of the label of this bottle.
  3. So what happens next?
    • They bring it home, wanting to use it:
    • First, they have to figure out how to open this bottle
    • Then they have to figure out how to put the sauce on their food
    • What happens when they get towards the end of the bottle? Can they easily get access to the sauce?
    • What happens if the user drops this bottle onto the kitchen floor, if it’s glass it would shatter to pieces, if it’s plastic it will most likely survive
  4. Post use:
    • How/where do the stores this bottle?
    • Does it fit within the designated area? For example the fridge or pantry shelf?
    • What happens when the user finishes that bottle?
    • Can they easily recycle it and throw it out?
    • Is it easy to clean?
    • Could it possibly have a different use case?
    • What could that look like?

As you can see, a lot of thoughts can go to designing a “simple” product. There’s a great book called “Don’t Make Me Think” I’d recommend you go pick it up and read it, the title of this book itself is a great motto for designers to live by, “Don’t Make Your Users Think” as much as possible.

How do UX Designers Solve the Problem

In order to explain this part, there are 3 terms you always hear about in the industry, it’s basically a Venn Diagram to help us create a good product-market fit by answering the following questions:

  • Desirable
    • Understand the users and their needs
    • Going back to our user, are we building something that they desire?
    • Is it solving an actual problem?
  • Viable
    • Understand the business and its needs
    • Is it product viable to the business, is this aligned to the business core goals and business model?
  • Feasible
    • Is it feasible for the business to build this solution or product?
    • Does the business have the right resources, like technology, are they able to market it? Are they able to maintain and support it?
How do UX Designers Identify and Solve Problems

Every project is completely different to another, and they have a different start, middle and endpoints, a lot of the times there is no endpoint to a product, depending on the product you’re working on or where you’re working, you are forever improving that product until its death. But let’s look at some of the tasks a UX Designers might do:

  • User Research
    • Demographic research
    • Surveys
    • Creating Personas
    • User interviews and more
  • Competitive Research
    • Identifying the competitors in the market and study what they do good and bad and identify opportunities that way
  • Defining User Goals and User Flows
    • Mapping out a flow for your user’s journeys with their primary goals in mind
  • User Stories and Feature Prioritization
    • Putting into stories of how users interact with your product based on a scenario and how your feature can help solve those problems in different cases
  • Information Architecture and Navigation
    • Basically creating an understandable structure for your product so that users are able to easily move around it and find what they need as much as possible
  • Wireframing
    • This is a simple high-level representation of how your app/website might look and things are placed around the page the page
  • Prototyping and Usability Testing
    • Prepare prototype of your ideas and testing them out with real users
    • User testing sessions
  • General software
    • Axure
    • Wireframing tools
    • Sketch / Figma / Adobe XD
    • Illustrator

So you might have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about aesthetics and look and feel and that is because that usually belongs to the next step of a project which is UI design, in order to check that please check out my post on UI Design where I go and explain what UI Design is and is not. This was a very basic high-level explanation of UX Design is, I hope you enjoyed it.