UX Design 101: What Is User Experience Design?

Often times when I am talking with clients about user experience (UX) design, there is a misconception that it simply refers to how an application or website looks and feels, aka the user interface (UI).  To some, these two terms mean the same thing.  However, UX is a much broader concept that includes UI as one of its components.  This is why I love working in UX design because it takes an entire team effort, driving collaboration among different departments, and focuses on the entire user (or customer) journey.  When executed correctly, companies can generate synergy between departments and deliver quality products or services to their customer base.

Let’s take a look at a few components to consider for your UX design – and keep in mind, there is not a one-size-fits-all method, it’s dependent on the project itself so the actual steps taken can vary based on the uniqueness of each endeavor.

Understand the User

One of the most (if not the most) important things to understand about UX…you must know your users because you are designing something for them to use or interact with.  Thinking you know what is best for the user puts you behind the 8-ball from the start.  Using Personas, creating user stories, and mapping user flows during the design process will allow you to understand the pain points that you are looking to solve for your customers.  You can, and should, incorporate any analytical information you have at your disposal to help further understand your user’s pain points. At the end of the day, the better you are at putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, the better equipped you will be to tackle the problem at hand.

Usability

With any application or website, it needs to be usable or it will not be consumed by the customer.  It also needs to provide useful information; otherwise, what is the point?  Before jumping into a full-fledged project build, spend some time to do sketches of what the screens look like and flow from one screen to the next.  There are plenty of wireframing solutions, such as Adobe XD, that will let you design a working prototype to prove basic functionality before a larger investment is made to complete the project.  Wireframing will also allow for some usability testing that can provide quick feedback, creating multiple design iterations before the best option is selected for development.

Accessibility

Customers are not only looking for an easy solution to use but also to be able to access the information they are looking for quickly.  If users have to search and search for the information they were expecting, that could lead to them getting frustrated and giving up altogether. To combat this, take the opportunity to review your Information Architecture (IA) to ensure the layout and placement of your content is relevant.  If you consider a website, the first step to having a secure IA is to plan out the site map.  This will show the big picture and how similar pages can be grouped, how labels and tags can be applied and will provide a vision of what content will go on which pages.  Offering relevant content that is easy to find will ensure a pleasant experience for the customer.

To provide a positive user experience, it is all about having empathy for the user. Knowing what the user wants and needs should make the actual design and development an easier process. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that you know what the user wants without doing your homework. 

If you and your team are struggling with UX design concepts or would just like a sounding board to bounce some ideas off of, Cyber Group has the experts available to help. Our approach combines the ability to take advantage of today’s technological landscape, maximize your current investment in technology, and, where appropriate, augment your opportunities with customized development and tailored support in a cost-advantageous model.

Written by Brad Darby, Principal

 Brad Darby is a technology leader with a passion for User/Customer Experience. Brad brings over 10 years of experience in managing multi-year & multi-million-dollar technology projects evaluation and implementation. He has expertise in leveraging technology to drive value for marketing, sales & customer service organizations across several industries. Brad is detail-oriented & has a keen sense to identify & mitigate risk on technology projects.  

Give him a call or email to explore these ideas further!