Learn the Basics of User Experience Design
It’s common for a graphic designer to want to move on to web and app design. If you are one of those designers, then there are some things you need to learn in order to get ahead successfully. Most importantly, the skills you need to learn are User Experience Design and User Interface Design. Today we’ll take a look at the basics of UXD – we will tackle UID in a future article.
The User’s Experience
The first part of understanding what User Experience Design is all about to understand the user. When you are playing a game on the phone, designing a surface pattern on Illustrator, or writing an email to family, you are being a user. The act of actually doing things on those apps or computer programs is your experience. It could not get any simpler than that.
When a UX designer is getting started on a project, their main purpose to create a seamless and memorable experience for an end user. But to know if it will work, they need to know the user as best as possible. There is lots of research involved in creating a good User Experience. Details need to be directed specifically to how the program, app or product will be used.
The UX Honeycomb
One of the first things a UX Designer learns is the UX Honeycomb. It’s a visual representation of all the levels. We have to bear these concepts in mind if we want to create a good User Experience. The honeycomb was formulated by Peter Morville and is now the single most important learning tool for UXD.
Source Peter Morville
A successful User Experience Design needs to have all these aspects thought out carefully right from the beginning. Every little thing in the design, from information to interface needs to follow these guidelines. Basically, everything needs to be:
Useful, desirable, accessible, credible, findable, useable and most importantly, valuable. Valuable is in the center because it is the most important aspect of them all. All the others are related to it and influence the outcome of the whole.
Meaning that for an experience on a website or app to be valuable, every little thing needs to be:
Useful: It should solve a problem, answer a query, give a solution.
Desirable: It should make the user want to use it, click it, press it, navigate it.
Accessible: It should be easy to access by anyone, be it on the computer, on the phone, with voice commands or for the visually impaired.
Credible: It needs to be believable, honest and not take the user down a useless rabbit hole.
Findable: It needs to be easy to find, to know when a button is a button and how not to get lost in the navigation.
Useable: It needs to be easy to use, without making the user guess on what they need to do.
What UX Designers do
A UX designer does a lot. There are tons of steps to take for a successful User Experience Design. Not every step is undertaken on every project, sometimes there are teams and sometimes it’s just one person working on the project. Below are some of the most important things a UX designer does.
The first thing a UX designer does is find out who they will be designing for. Along with the client and maybe the branding and marketing team, they will come up with user personas for the finished product. A user persona defines exactly the kind of person who will be having the experience with the product. The more detailed it is, the easier it is to design the experience for them. Creating personas takes research and some creative imagination.
A wireframe is a rough sketch of both what the project will look like and how it will work. The wireframe can be as simple as two or three sections or a complicated system that covers an entire wall with printed slides. Wireframes are so important for UXD that there are tons of templates to use that save time. There are even printed cards with the basic elements of a wireframe so that a UX designer can build something “by hand.”
Wireframes can change while we are building the product, it is not set in stone but it should be almost perfect so that there isn’t too much double guessing and doubling back when designing.
A prototype is the actual product but not live to the public. It’s meant to be used for user testing and continued design and building. Prototypes are what takes the product from wireframe to final launchpad.
User testing is a huge part of UXD. Without user testing, the designer and client won’t know if the system works or not. Without user testing, a launch could be a disaster. Detailed user testing is key in the end stages of designing a user experience.
Over to you
Are you looking into getting an education in User Experience Design? In this article, we have just scratched the surface. If you want to learn more, look for some courses on Tutpad or take an entire college class only with General Assembly.