I was asked what UX people did recently. I came up with the usual descriptions that you can read anywhere – we do interaction design, information architecture and usability. But that means little to most people and that’s a problem that has an impact in business.
Maybe we can look at this again in simplest terms. What are our aims? We strive to make digital products better to use, more enjoyable to experience and, at best, memorable.
Back to basics
We should also strive to be transparent in our methods and be great communicators. Getting our audience to understand our message is really important. I think many great designers would argue that UX is fundamental to their designs being a success, regardless of what they produce.
After all what makes a great design? It needs to fulfil the objective but also give something more. It’s often intangible but has a feeling of quality that can not be denied. In digital design this can sometimes feel like a complex issue but it should be as simple as possible.
Our job as UX people is to make the complex simple. It is to aggregate our learning, rationalize and synthesise our thoughts and then design with empathy.
If we do this with clarity and are aware that others see the same message, or experience the same scenario, we can rest easy.
The UX Staircase
Successful products are defined by a user’s good experience. UX finds those user needs and desires and creates characteristics that surface in a product’s design and eventual production.
These steps to a better product are rarely seen beyond an organisation’s internal processes. But by being aware of UX in all areas of a business helps build the ‘staircase’, the different stages to a complete solution. The list below explains how in more detail.
Making UX visible in an organisation
Clarity – Be aware that the majority of people have little knowledge of the UX terms used or the tools employed. Clarity is key in getting the message understood
Engage stakeholders with story-telling to highlight complex interactions. Deliver relevant information in the right context.
Visualize data to enable understanding. The amount we use to formulate solutions must be quickly understood.
Logic - Sense check all deliverables. Does it stand up to being interpreted by a layman?
Language - Be aware of your own immersion in a subject. Geek speak is an occupational hazard, avoid it by getting immediate feedback
Fun – Use humour if possible. What we do should be fun and make the client/team/stakeholder feel engaged by working with those who show enthusiasm and motivation
Participate - Try and embed yourself on the project as it kicks off. Getting a UX person on board is invaluable for planning and strategy.
So what is UX?
UX is arguably design thinking that good web designers (and all designers) do tacitly but with an added important aspect. As the quality of interfaces dictate the success of products it is essential for design decisions to be documented.
When expenditure needs to be measured and return on investment calculated, UX provides the rationale to business owners and designers alike.