User experience (UX) is all about providing your website user with the best experience through design. UX designers understand design, technology, and human psychology to create websites and apps that are both elegant and functional. UX is not the practice of making websites look nice; instead, it combines ease of use, intuitiveness, and style.
In this article, we’ll define UX and help you understand more about it so you can find the right designer and the right design for your digital products.
What is UX?
While design plays a role in UX design, it’s not about aesthetics alone. Instead, UX design is focused on developing a roadmap for a website or application’s experience. For the sake of this article, we’ll talk about UX in terms of website design to give you a digestible example.
UX design outlines the website ecosystem and creates value for the end-user. After a website goes live, UX involves collecting data to understand user behavior and improve the website based on that information.
What UX Design Isn’t
To understand what UX is, we have to discuss what UX isn’t, as many business owners often don’t differentiate UX design from regular graphic design. UX design is not about website aesthetics.
Though the design is important for UX, UX design is based on user-centered design and design thinking, which refers to the process of working with customers and exploring possibilities to develop ideas and test ideas with customers to create a user-centered design (UCD). UX design is essentially the application of UCD principles to website design.
If you’re looking for a simple definition: UX design uses empathy to observe, analyze, and evaluate a user’s engagement with a website. Behind it are processes that include:
- User research
- Information architecture
- Content strategy
- User testing
UX in the Design Process
UX designers step into the shoes of the user to understand what their needs are and develop journeys to help them accomplish their goals. They also test these systems to ensure they provide value for the end-users in the same ways they intended.
UX design often begins with the user’s problem and developing a buyer persona the same way someone would when they start marketing their business. The research used during this stage informs the development process until websites can undergo testing.
Results from testing can then be used to perfect the website or product, and the process is repeated until expectations match the end-user’s experience.
Understanding User Behavior
UX designers must understand user behavior, so they utilize feedback during testing. By analyzing quantified data with qualitative insights gathered through focus groups and other tests, UX designers can identify barriers that are negatively impacting the user’s experience.
UX vs. UI
UX and User Interface (UI) are often used interchangeably. However, they do have their differences. UX is the frame of the design, while UI is the content inside the design. UX designers collaborate with UI designers to test aspects of UI. Essentially, UI refers to the aesthetic elements of design, while UX refers to the experience someone has with the website. Let’s take a look at Shareable for Hires’ website as an example.
The UI of this website is the design elements, including the logo, colors, and format. The UX, on the other hand, is about the experience you have on the website, including whether or not you find the website usable and easy to navigate. The navigation is just one part of UX design that ensures the website provides value and a good experience for the user.
A UI designer works to bring your brand’s identity to the forefront of the website, while a UX designer defines problems that need solving, such as issues with navigation that might make finding what users are looking for difficult.
Seeing UX in Design
Most individuals should see the UI in web design, but not the UX, as UX is more about providing a user with an experience rather than something visually appealing. Ultimately, with UX, simplicity is always better, and the simpler the UX, the less likely your users will notice it.
A website with a successful user experience doesn’t have a clear call to action but instead takes the user through a journey through their website. Customers never recognize a good user experience, but they will recognize if navigating the website and finding what they needed was simple and didn’t cause frustration, which is what UX is all about.
Simply put, users cannot see UX design, but they will feel it if a website has a less than or more than satisfying experience.
UX Design Process
There are several steps in the UX design process.
UX designers use several research methods to develop an understanding of users’ expectations. These research methods include:
- Focus groups
- Competitive analyses
2. Personas & User Scenarios
Personas are a result of research as they are examples of potential end-users and scenarios when a user would use the website.
3. Customer Journey Flows
User journey maps or customer journey flows illustrate scenarios of end-users interacting with a website. They can help designers identify usability and experience issues.
Wireframes act as blueprints that make up a website, allowing designers to create the basic website structure for a website before implementing UI.
Prototyping is used more often in app development but can be used in web development as well. This part of the process can help designers visualize how users experience the digital product before it’s developed.
6. User Testing
User testing helps validate whether or not a website or app will develop a quality user experience. Testing can include:
- A/B testing
- Heat maps
Evaluation helps to identify issues with usability so they can be resolved before development.
Importance of UX Design
UX design delivers the right solution to your customers. Designers can help you identify issues within your website that negatively impact your user experience and hurt your company’s growth. If your web design is an investment, then you’ll need a good user experience designer.
Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys San Diego life, traveling, and music. View all posts by Matt Casadona