UX Design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product.
Let's build on this definition.
At its core, UX is really about ensuring that a user finds value in what’s being provided to them.
So what are the basic principles and foundations of UX Design?
You'll find hundreds of great books, articles, podcasts about UX. You'll also likely see that they all say different things... This is incredibly confusing and frustrating.
The following 7 points are what I consider to be the Foundational Principles of UX Design.
Your content must be original and should fulfill the needs of the user.
Do your best to make your product not only easy to use but also enjoyable.
UX Design is not Graphic Design or UI Design, but it does make sure that all of those visual components come together to make your product useful, usable, and therefore desirable.
Every part of your product should be easily navigable and simple. Your user should be able to learn it quickly as they interact with it for the first time.
Making your product memorable will lead your users to come back to the application time and time again. Because it is both learnable and memorable, they’ll be able to pick up where they left off with ease.
Your product must be accessible to those with disabilities. This can sound quite challenging, but there are some simple guidelines for easy implementation of this principle.
Your product must convey trust and mutual respect. This is gained through the implementation of these principles as you take a data-driven approach to designing the best product for your users.
Remember, the success and effectiveness of any product or service depends on the user experience itself.
UX is not ___
- Graphic Design
- Visual Design
- UI Design
While there's of course the overlap between these fields, UX Design is its own discipline.
What do UX Designers do?
UX Designers must have the agility to think through the tiniest of details while maintaining a perspective on how all the parts will come together to make the whole. To accomplish this, it requires that they do a lot of different things. This can be dependent on the company or the project, but overall there are 5 main areas of focus in this role.
A wireframe is the rough guide or structure of your product or website - it doesn't have any beautiful visual elements. Instead, it's all about the main structure, content, and leading the user to where you need them to go. Some of the questions a UX Designer will be asking themselves at this stage are:
- Is this layout or structure leading the user in the right direction?
- Why is this the right layout?
- Are there things that will distract our user from what they need to do?
UX Designers have to do a lot of research to ensure that they're making the right designs decisions. Good decisions are based solely on the quality of the user-centered design research that’s conducted. In this role, you have to have a good understanding of a core demographic/user base for the product, company, or brand. At this stage, the UX Designer will be asking themselves questions like:
- Who is our main user?
- What do they need?
- What can we do to help them?
Again, answers to these questions must be backed by data and not personal feelings.
This is the creation of a fictitious person that represents your core demographic or targeted user. The creation of user personas will help a UX Designer to make appropriate choices in their wireframes and product choices. Some of the questions UX Designer will ask themselves in this stage are:
- What does our user want to do when they open our app for the first time?
- Does it make sense to have these elements on this page?
- What do they need on this page?
- Is this simple and clear to use?
A UX Designer will test the product and involve a small group of users in a product usability test. Being able to see users stumble and get lost on specific screens is extremely valuable as we can go back to the drawing board and decide what we can do to improve this process and user experience.
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