Everything you need to know about user experience (UX) design 

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A comprehensive guide

A perfect UX design involves deep design knowledge, technology, and human psychology. It involves knowing the qualities of a good product and what drives people to a website (and keeps them coming back).

More specifically, an excellent UX design process makes it possible to get the right balance between users, design, and technology.

This doesn’t just happen. It requires a lot of user research, including basic analytics, surveys, interviews, and contextual observation.

In other words, the main aim of user experience design is not to have nice-looking digital products. It involves improving the intuitiveness of digital products and ease of use. Of course, we cannot underestimate the role of visual design in the design process.

Still, UX design focuses more on improving a product’s experience and providing maximum value for the end user. Continue reading to learn more about experience design and why it matters for your business.

What is user experience (UX) design?

UX design involves creating products that provide good and relevant experiences to users. Design experts rely on UX design to create meaningful experiences for their users. In other words, user experience involves creating a valuable journey for users to enable them to reach their goals with ease.

As earlier stated, UX design is not about aesthetics but rather a whole strategy process to help build a sense of empathy between website owners, designers, and users.

Many things come into play when creating a UX design, including how a product feels to how easy the checkout process is to ease of shopping online. The end goal is to provide users with easy, efficient, relevant, and pleasant experiences.

What does user experience design do?

Now that you know what UX design is, let’s look at what it does.

Imagine you are shopping online. You find a category with several options to choose from — sounds great! The problem is that there’s no way to filter the results, and your only option is to scroll through unsuitable products to get what you are looking for.

The problem doesn’t end there.

When you finally get what you are after and are ready to pay, you are required to create a new account as a new customer—which is right. But the challenge is you are required to fill several mandatory fields to complete your purchase.

You realize that buying your products from that website is more work than it should. Most likely, you’ll abandon the store and look somewhere else.

Now that is an excellent example of a bad user experience. UX design does the opposite. It is easy to use, enables users to complete the desired tasks hassle-free, and is efficient.

UX design disciplines

UX designs comprise of four main elements:

  • User Research (UR)
  • Experience Strategy (ExS)
  • Interaction Design (IxD)
  • Information Architecture (IA)

User Research (UR)

User design involves identifying a problem and finding a solution. As such, conducting extensive research and getting feedback from your audience (user research) will come in handy.

Interaction Strategy (ExS)

Both users and businesses benefit from UX design. Experience strategy involves developing a holistic business strategy with both users and the company’s needs in mind.

Interaction Design (IxD)

This involves how a user interacts with a product or system. Interaction design considers buttons, animations, page transitions, and other elements to ensure that users can complete actions hassle-free.

Information Architecture (IA)

Ensuring that a user can navigate their way around a product is crucial. Information architecture is the practice of ensuring that content is meaningful and accessible.

What is the difference between UX design and user interface (UI)?

It is not uncommon to confuse use experience design (UX) and user interface design (UI). Both UX and UI are vital for the product’s success—they go hand in hand. Ideally, there’s no UX without UI and no UI without UX. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a UX designer with UI skills and vice versa.

So, what’s the difference between UX and UI?

UX design is all about the overall product’s experience, while UI involves the product’s interface, look, and function.

A UX designer aims to make the user’s journey to solve a problem as easy as possible. They consider the steps that a user takes, the tasks they need to complete, and how good the experience is.

In other words, they focus more on finding obstacles and users’ paint points and how to solve them. UX designers spend much of their time researching users, their needs, and how a specific product will solve them.

Once they conduct user research, they create a user’s journey regarding a product. During this stage, they consider things like information architecture, for instance, the kinds of features the user might need and how content is organized across a product.

On the other hand, the UI designer aims to bring to life the product skeleton. UI designers deal with visual aspects of the user’s journey, including individual screens and things like scrolling down a page, tapping a button, etc.

In other words, the UX designers focus more on mapping out the user journey while the UI designers deal with the details that make the journey possible. As such, UI design is about ensuring the product is accessible, inclusive, and looks great.

To better understand the difference between UX and UI, have a look at this summary:

  • UX designers identify and solve user problems while UI designers create intuitive, aesthetically-appealing, and interactive interface
  • UX designers map the product skeleton, and the UI designer improves it with visual and interactive elements, i.e., UX design starts the product development process followed by UI design
  • UI design only applies to digital products and experiences, while UX can apply to any kind of product

Important things to know about user experience design

Use experience is a vast discipline. Here are essential things to know about UX design:

The user interface is part of the user experience

Some designers think about UX as a user interface or usability. While both are crucial aspects of UX design, they only form part of it.

UX designs involve other areas of integrating a product, including design, usability, branding, and function.

Here’s what Don Norman (the man behind the term “user experience,”) says:

“No product is an island. A product is more than a product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all the stages of a product or service—from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”

As such, UX designers do not just consider a product’s usability when designing a product but also efficiency, pleasure, fun, and other aspects of user experience.

UX design focuses more on users

It comes without saying that the most crucial factor that UX designers should consider when designing a product is their target audience. After all, how will you design a product that users love if you don’t know how your audience works?

User research forms the basis of a perfect user experience design process. Designing for users means thinking about other issues such as accessibility and accommodating potential users’ limitations. Ideally, UX design should be user-centered to ensure it addresses all relevant users’ needs.

Prototyping is critical in UX design

A prototype is essential to run user tests. Some UX designers skip prototyping and instead go ahead to build the actual product. This is a serious mistake that you should avoid. After all, nobody wants to spend time creating something great, only to realize later that it doesn’t work or give the expected results.

A prototype is a sample version of your product to test your design before its fully developed. Creating prototypes is not enough. It is ideal to try them with real users to discover any flaws before creating the final product. The end game is to have a product that meets users’ needs.

UX design is a growing process

You need a solid UX process to have a successful UX design to create fantastic experiences for your users.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal UX process applicable to all projects. An excellent UX process is based on project requirements. That means you need to spend time on user research when building a new product.

Another important thing to remember is that the UX design is not cast on stones—it will evolve as the product and industry requirements change. You also need to consider new customer feedback and change your design accordingly to satisfy new customer needs.

Use real data in the designing process

There’s no product without content when it comes to digital products. Content comes in various forms, including images, text, infographics, videos, etc.

Great designers know that design enhances the content and consider it during the design phase. Even so, some designers make the mistake of using Lorem Ipsum and placeholders instead of real copy and real images.

The problem with this technique is that the design might look completely different when filled with actual content. This defeats the primary goal of UX designers—to provide the best customer experience possible.

UX design is usable and accessible

While aesthetics is important, they should not take the place of functionality and accessibility. Aesthetics are secondary, and the only time designers should think about the look and appeal is if they have a usable product. After all, the primary goal of a digital product or service is to perform a function.

With an accessible design, users can successfully understand, navigate, and use the final product. A UX design caters to all users, including those with vision and hearing impairments. A well-designed product is not just accessible but improves usability for all users.

UX design should accommodate business needs

UX design should cater to users as well as business needs. After all, what’s the value of having a product that users love but doesn’t help achieve a business goal?

UX designers must find a balance between creating a product with a good user experience and adding significant value to the business—it’s a win-win.

What is the value of UX design for businesses?

Some businesses overlook the value of UX design. However, the functionality and the look of business websites, apps, and tools help grab customers’ attention — about 48 percent of customers consider the design before choosing a company.

Businesses must ensure that they have the most practical and user-friendly products to get maximum value. That said, here’s the business value of UX design for your business:

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is key to the overall business success, and UX design provides exactly that. Statistics show that customers (about 71%)are likely to leave one brand for another if they view the purchase process as too complicated. The worst part is that about 51% of the customers will avoid doing business with that brand again.

For example, the Bank of America experienced a 45% increase in online banking registration after a user-centered redesign. A study by Forrester Research shows that an excellent user interface could increase a website’s conversion by up to 200%, and a perfect UX could increase conversions up to 400%. On top of conversion enhancement, UX design can help with customer retention.

More revenue

A perfect UX design will help achieve a better return on investment (ROI) — this can explain why there’s increased popularity of mobile-friendly websites in ecommerce.

About 50% of people with smartphones in the US make purchases on mobile devices. Besides, about 50% of users will leave a site on the search engine result page if it isn’t mobile-friendly or loads slowly. A strong UX design makes it easier for users to navigate your site, increasing ROI.

Minimize development costs

The cost of correcting a design mistake later in the development stage (when the product is on the market) is significantly higher than fixing the problem during the design phase. The cost could be much higher if the mistake is identified during the maintenance stage.

This usually happens when designers prioritize looks over functionality. Luckily, as earlier stated, UX design is user-centered, meaning in-depth research is conducted to determine how users will interact with the product before the final development.

User research involves talking to the target audience and getting valuable feedback regarding their experience using similar products. Usability testing is one of the sure ways to test how your customers interact with your product.

Once you do this, you’ll create a product with users in mind and won’t need to make corrections afterward, saving you tons of money in development costs.

Improved brand loyalty

We are in 2022, and user experience is not something you should take lightly. User experience is a great brand differentiator, just like price and product (if not more).

Anytime people interact with a website, app, or any other digital asset of a business, they build a perception about the brand. As expected, satisfied customers are likely to tell their friends about a brand through word of mouth.

When customers are satisfied with their experience interacting with your product, they will tell other people about it. In other words, they become ambassadors of your business, and as you know, referrals are an effective form of marketing.

Closing thoughts on UX design

As you can see, UX design is beneficial for both users and companies. Businesses should plan user experience design in the early stages of product development.

Ignoring usability and user needs means that the end product will not be meaningful and functional. It also means that you will incur higher costs to correct issues on the product later on. As such, it makes sense to treat UX as an investment in your business for a better user experience and higher return on investment (ROI).