You probably hear about the importance of UX designers these days. UX design is a field that seems important to product development, but its purpose is still unclear to many people because it is still a relatively new field. So, when someone says, “I’m a user experience designer,” it’s not always clear what they do on a daily basis. This article is for people who still don’t really know what a UX designer does.
What User Experience Design Is All About
Design has long been linked to graphic design, which is focused on visual communication and how something looks. As digital technology and our expectations of digital interactions have grown, we’ve started to pay more attention to the user experience, or “feel” of a design. If UX is the experience a user has while using a product, then UX design is the process by which a designer tries to figure out what that experience will be and create the conditions for an experience they want users to have.
What a UX designer needs to do
How do UX designers do their jobs every day? As with many questions, the answer to this one is: it depends. The tasks a UX designer has to do can vary a lot from one company to the next, and sometimes even from one project to the next within the same company. Even though the job is very different, a UX designer is expected to do some things the same way no matter what company they work for.
I’ve summed up the 6 main tasks of a UX designer below:
1. Product Research
Every UX designer starts a project with product research, which inherently includes research on users, customers, and the market. It’s the basis for good design because it lets designers avoid making assumptions and make decisions based on facts.
Product research is important because it shows UX designers how users behave, what their goals are, what drives them, and what they need to complete a task.
It helps UX designers learn about industry standards and figure out where the product could be useful in a certain area. It also helps prioritize different parts of a product in order of importance (e.g. product features).
From a technical point of view, product research is a process of gathering data through channels such as:
- Interviews with users, customers, and other interested parties
- Analysis of the competition
- Online surveys
- Analytics software
Information that has been collected is analyzed and turned into both quantitative and qualitative data. This important information will help a designer form a full picture of user behavior and inform them on what to do next.
2. Putting together personas and scenarios
Based on the results of the product research, the next step for a UX designer is to determine the most important user groups and create personas that represent them. A persona is a made-up identity that represents one of the groups of people they are designing for.
Personas don’t represent the users a business wants, but rather the ones they already have. Even though personas are made up, they should be based on real audience data. The purpose of personas is to show patterns that they’ve seen in their users.
After a UX designer has made personas, they can write scenarios. The scenarios are stories about situations their personas are in. It shows how a business’s website or app fits into the lives of its users. Whether they’re making an app or a website, a new product or a redesigned version of an old one, it’s important for them to think about all the steps a user might take while using their product.
3. Architecture of Information (IA)
After conducting research and making personas, a UX designer needs to define the information architecture. Information architecture is the process of making a website, app, or other product with a structure that lets users know where they are within the system and where the information they want is in relation to where they are. When information architecture is done, navigation, hierarchies, and content groupings are created. Information architecture is used, for example, when a UX designer draws a top-level menu to help users figure out where they are on a site.
4. Putting together wireframes
After figuring out the IA, it’s time to make wireframes. A wireframe is a design deliverable that most people think of when they hear the term “UX Designer.” A wireframe is a sketch of a design that, if low-fidelity, isn’t very detailed. A wireframe should show every screen or step that a user could take when using a product.
The following are characteristics of wireframes:
- Wireframes are a key part of a product’s design. They are used as a guide when development begins, and if hi-fidelity, they should show what each part of the final product will look like.
- Wireframes should be made quickly to simplify how they show UI objects (e.g., by using simple placeholders that represent objects such as crossed rectangles for images).
- Wireframes aren’t usually used to test products. They may help UX designers get feedback on design during initial research, but they can’t replace using the product themselves.
5. Making a prototype
People often use the terms “wireframe” and “prototype” interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two. They look different, they communicate different things, and they have different uses. While wireframes are like architectural blueprints (like a plan for a building), a prototype is an interactive representation of the final product.
You can get a feel for how to use a product from a prototype. Because of this, it’s better not to show static images of interactive designs and instead use a clickable interactive prototype. With modern prototyping tools like Figma and its use of plugins, you can even make videos of your prototypes to show how your design works.
6. Trying out a product
User testing helps UX designers figure out what problems people have with a product as they use it. One of the most common ways for a UX designer to test a product is to watch people try to complete tasks with it, either in person or remotely during user tests. UX designers can create a better user experience by collecting both verbal and nonverbal feedback from the user and analyzing it. Not to say that being in the same room as a user as they try to figure out how to use your product is a great way to make them understand.
Being a UX designer is a process that never ends.
UX design is an iterative process that is always evolving. The work of a UX designer doesn’t end when the product is released. In fact, UX designers keep learning and measuring user behavior, which will drive updates in the future. They start with the best product they can, but they are always ready to learn and improve the product further.
What Kinds of UX Designer Jobs Are There?
If you look at different UX designer job descriptions, you’ll see that their lists of responsibilities can vary a lot. In some descriptions, the UX designer role is all about research and usability testing, while in others, it’s a more technical role that involves building prototypes and working more closely with the engineering team. All of this is because a UX designer’s job depends a lot on the kind of company it is, and the difference between one job and another can be huge.
The biggest difference between small and large businesses is:
- Due to small teams and few resources, a UX designer is likely to be in charge of every part of the design process in a startup. So, a startup might be right for you if you want to be involved in every step of the UX design process.
- Larger companies usually split the UX designer role into a few roles, each of which focuses on just one part. Because of this, you can find job titles like “Usability Specialist,” “Information Architect,” and “UX researcher” when you look at job descriptions. So, if you like one part of UX design, like research, working with a team at a larger company could be a good fit for you.
Conclusion to UX Designer What is it?
Even though being a UX designer is hard and involves a lot of different tasks, it’s a really interesting and rewarding career path that could lead you in many different directions.