Imagine you need to make a quick phone call. You pick up your mobile device, touch some buttons, you either put the phone to your ears or use an earpiece device for ease- The whole interaction between yourself, the mobile device, and the earpiece is what we call in simple terms; a user experience.
The design of the mobile device, the shape/color of buttons you might need to touch to put your call across, and the shape of the earpiece may impact the interaction negatively/positively and this is where the importance of UX design comes into light.
In this article, we would cover what UX design is and share some insight into the following topics;
- What is UX design?
- Difference between UX and UI
- The role of a UX designer in a company
- Top 5 skills every UX designer needs to have to be successful in their career
- How you can get started with your UX career
- Tools you need to be successful as a UX designer
Let's get right into it!
What is UX design?
When someone says user experience, they are referring to the way people not only interact with a product but also perceive a product.
User experience design popularly known as "UX design" is the process in which designers fine-tune processes and products to ensure they are meeting the consumer's expectations and removing pain points from the user's journey.
Don Norman, the prominent designer who coined the term "user experience", once said that design is everything. What he meant was that UX designers are not only concerned with the product when it is being used but also before the product has been purchased and after it has been used.
Difference between UX and UI
Although used interchangeably, it is important to highlight that there is a clear difference between UI and UX.
UI is mostly concerned with the visual part and interactive elements of a product that is the typography, animations, color palettes, and even the navigational touch points; buttons, scroll bars etc.
Despite the fact that UI and UX go hand in hand; UX is more focused on the user's journey. It focuses on the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.
“UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem; UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.” — Ken Norton, Partner at Google Ventures, Ex-Product Manager at Google
The role of a UX designer in a company
As a UX designer, you have to always put yourself in the customer's shoes more like being the customer advocate in the company always looking for ways to improve the customer’s experience. . Here's what a typical "day in the life of a UX designer" would look like for you when a new product is about to be brought to life.
Understand the problem:- The first step to acing your role as a UX designer is understanding what problem your product/idea is solving for the user and how this aligns with the company.
User research:- As a user researcher, it is always advisable to carry out research at every point of the product roadmap to understand user needs, product goals, and user pain points. You could employ tools like Crowd to carry out tests that include simple surveys, and A/B testing. For physical tests, you could carry out one-on-one interviews, focus groups, etc.
Learn from your insights:- Crowd can help you analyze insights from your user feedback seamlessly. Your user test can open your eyes to who your users really are hence helping you create personas, how they would interact with your product, what they really need and so much more.
Design:- Once you're ready to design, you would begin with wireframing, site maps, and user flows to help you define what your product would like. At this point, a UI designer would take over to add the other important elements and interfaces for the product.
Usability testing:- After designing your product, it's important you test out every last detail of the product before launch. Using Crowd, you can try out tests like design surveys, 5-second tests, and prototype evaluations to help validate your product before moving it to production.
Share and deliver your work to the involved stakeholders before moving it to production.
Top skills every UX designer needs to have to be successful in their career
Like any professional out there, there are certain skills ideal for your field you might need to possess. For this role, we would be dividing the skill set needed to thrive as a UX designer into two parts; technical and non-technical skills.
Communication:- This skill will come in handy when you need to conduct user test interviews. It would help you carry out successful interviews and also relay feedback/findings to your company's stakeholders.
Empathy:- As a UX designer, your users are the center of all you do. You would need to listen and understand what your users need and fine-tune your product around them.
Critical thinking:- A critical thinker is always curious; challenging assumptions and finding new and effective ways to put your product together.
UX research:- Carrying out different kinds of interviews at different points of your product to ensure you are making the right decisions.
Information architecture:- Helps you simply and systemize large chunks of information.
Wireframing:- A UX designer needs to understand how to relate content, and functionality in a skeletal form putting into account the user's journey and touchpoints.
Prototyping:- After wireframing and designing. you might need to test your product for functionality and hiccups in the customer journey.
How you can get started with your UX career
The UX design space is constantly growing and there's no single path to getting started. But we would be sharing some key steps you can employ to get the foundations you need as a UX designer.
- Take a UX design course:- There are tons of courses out there that promise to give you value for a few bucks but we made our research and decided to share the top 5 courses with you.
Practice your skills in the real world:- It's important you apply and take up internship roles to help test and sharpen your UX design skills. You could choose to check out internship roles on LinkedIn and Twitter or better still, you could reach out to design leads in different organizations and seek volunteer opportunities.
A portfolio is important:- As you are testing out your new skills, it's important you design your portfolio with the different projects you have worked on whilst interning and volunteering to show how far you have gone and also for future employment reference.
Connect with top UX design thought leaders on the different social media platforms and communities you find yourself. It's also important you share your work on social media and get your name out there.
Tools that you need to be successful as a UX designer
No craftsperson is complete without their tools! UX designers rely on a couple of tools to help get work done efficiently. Here are some of the tools;
Crowd:- You need to identify the who, what and why of your project—which means research! Crowd is a great tool to get your research started.
Miro:- Miro is a great tool for collaboration and ideation with your team members.
Figma:- Figma is an awesome web-based tool for prototyping and wireframing.
Asana:- Fantastic for project management, knowing what needs to be done and who’s working on what.
We hope we've been able to shed some light on the impactful work that is UX design.
Good UX is a huge part of retaining customers and UX designers are an integral part of this process. When you ensure your customer's needs and wants are the core driving force of your business, you're encouraging them to not only be loyalists but also evangelists of your business.