User Experience (UX) also known as User Interface Design and Usability is the process that looks at a product, such as a website, and sets out to design a system and procedures that will engage or benefit the person at the other end of the process – the customer, reader, or user. While these three terms are interchangeable, UI and Usability are actually subsets of UX, with UI being more concerned with the steps users take once they have the information, or how the end result is used.
UX starts very early in the design process, taking into account many things, such as branding, technology, design and end result usability. Because of this wide range of considerations, coupled with an ever changing technology landscape and all of the nuances of brand and product and audience, there is no one definition of UX, rather a broad umbrella that encompasses whether a product will meet a user’s needs through all aspects of usage, acquisition or even troubleshooting during their time with a product. Most good UX is seen in the use, success and growth of the product during its life-cycle.
The Three Main Parts of Good User Experience
1.) The “why” to user experience
This considers the motivations of the user as they approach or decide to use a product. This can also include the views and values associated with the product and the user. Understanding this during the first steps can help guide the process along the road map of design and development, mapping where information is displayed, when processes are utilized and how a user will flow through a project or arrive at a destination. Most often this step takes advantage of tools such as research, site maps and brand books, as well as other tools that can help define a users needs and motivations.
2.) The “what” to user experience
During this step the why has been collected and the features and functionality come into play. Once it is understood why a user is engaged with a product, the features and functionality, then web designers can move on to the next stage of the process.
3.) The “how” to user experience
This is the stage where products are created that users can form meaningful connections to. The how brings to light all of the whys and whats, and forms the destination that puts a product in the hands that a user can engage, value and continue using.
Designing UX is user-centered, and because of this, it is a process that follows a project from beginning to end. With the user at the center, a multi-disciplined approach can be taken, creating personas, researching products, designing wireframes and testing designs. The end result should be a product that engages the user, brings them back and helps them along all steps of the product and process. If you’d like to learn more about what a web designer does, check out our blog article What Does a Web Designer Do?
Further Reading on User Experience
More about UX Design from Don Norman, the inventor of the term: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/author/don-norman/
UX articles from Medium.com: https://medium.com/tag/ux