What is UX? And what exactly do the UX designers do?
One of the areas in IT that has been constantly growing in recent years is UX design. This area is not new and the term UX has been in use since the early 90’s, but interest in this area has grown exponentially in recent years, especially with the development of mobile and web applications.
What exactly is a user experience?
User Experience (UX) is an area that describes how to create products and services so that the users can use them easily and quickly.
Today the user experience is one of the most important segments of a good online performance because it actually determines whether the user will want to return or not.
In order to provide a great experience for the users of your site, you must first get to know them. You should also always consider the questions: what do the users need to do with your product, and what would be the simplest way to do that?
But what exactly do the UX designers do on a daily basis?
If you’re considering a career in this area and you want to know what you’ll be expected to do, I must emphasize that your projects will vary significantly from company to company and team size, but generally UX design includes elements of research, testing, business analysis, project management, psychology, as well as wireframing.
I will describe here what the UX design process looks like in the projects at our company. It consists of several stages.
This is the stage for doing research. The UX designer receives the input from the client, and then starts researching the users and their intentions and habits, why they take or do not take certain actions, which language they speak, things like that. For example, let’s say there’s a restaurant that wants a new app. The UX designer will do extensive research to get a picture of who the app users are and what they expect from it. The research may include analysis of the existing site, interviewing current users, competition research, etc. This will allow the UX designer to define the key features that an application has to have, and to define the user. In the restaurant example, the key information that has to be on the website would be the menu, the online booking options, and the location of the restaurant.
Defining the user and information architecture
With the key features defined, we can determine what users want to do on the website and why. In the restaurant case, a good user example is Marina, in her 20s, who loves salads and wants to make the most of her lunch break. She wants to order the Vitamin Salad via the mobile app to save her time. At the end of the user introduction process, we can define the website content, architecture and site map. Then we can start creating a paper prototype, which is a very rough sketch that can be improved on quickly and easily.
Wireframes and testing
The next thing after the paper prototype is the wireframe. There is no right or wrong way to do this. If you want to take the development to a higher level, there are specialized tools such as INVISIONAPP, UXPIN, AXURE which offer the creation of interactive wireframes and prototypes. The testing is also being done at this stage, and only after a lot of iterations will we be ready for the next step.
The next stage is the visual design, in which the wireframe turns into a mockup. The mockup contains the final selection of photos, icons, colours and typography. It should be done perfectly and show exactly what the application/website will look like. Practically, it should be able to be a Development Handbook. Sometimes the UX designers do the visual design themselves, while in most cases they leave it to the graphic designers.
The testing stage will be the best indicator of whether you’ve done a good job or you need to change something to further improve the final product. Note that the testing is done by the people who match the profiles of the website users (not the UX designer).
After testing, the new product is finally ready for development.
At this stage the UX designer attends the sprint meetings with the developers, overseeing the development to ensure that there are no significant alterations to the app features.
Even after the product has been launched, the UX designers’ job is not done. They work on the improvements, minor changes, launching new versions, collecting the product feedback, and analysing the acquired information.
The career of a UX designer can be quite interesting and dynamic. It requires familiarity with various areas and it is something that pretty much anyone could do – the question is how successfully.