If you do not reside within the design industry world, it’s highly likely that a few misconceptions may have slipped past unnoticed. Personally, my background lies within the pages of undergraduate history textbooks and sales recruitment so, before joining Tobias & Tobias, I admit to heavily misunderstanding what UX design was. After three months of personal and intellectual growth, and through osmosis by spending time with a team of industry experts, I believe I have now grasped the key principles of UX and corrected my understanding.
It turns out…
UX Design Does Not Revolve Around The User
The term UX relates to the experience of the users. But much to my surprise, while pivotal to most design decisions, the world of usability goes beyond this and needs to tie back to core business strategies.
Multiple facets need to be taken into account, such as:
- The business goals and objectives
- The business vision statement
- The target market
- The competition
Forming a UX strategy with the why, what, who, when and how of a project provides useful reference in the prioritization of UX activities.
“Building business objectives early into the UX strategy will inevitably yield an outcome that best matches total requirement.”
Shahid Khalil (Business Development, Tobias & Tobias)
UX Design Does Not Revolve Around Aesthetics
Whilst aesthetics are important, UX design is not solely about how something looks, but how it works and feels. Over the past few months, I’ve come to the realisation that aesthetics do not create great usability. Even if a product is visually stunning, a user is highly unlikely to use a product if it’s not “usable”. Rather, aesthetics are a “final touch” to complement a product built for an optimal user experience.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple Inc)
UX And UI Are Not Interchangeable
They both begin with the letter U. They must be the same thing. Right?
User Experience Design (UX) and User Interface Design (UI) work closely together and are both vital to a product. But despite their relationship, each discipline is quite different as they refer to very different aspects of the design process. The user interface (UI) is arguably the most important component of UX, but it is nonetheless a component. Very simply, the UI is what you see; UX is what you feel.
User experience design is a multi-step strategic design process that encompasses all aspects of an end-user’s interaction. A UX designer is concerned with the conceptual elements of the design process. UI designers, in comparison, focus on tangible components: how the product’s surfaces look (colours, typography etc) and function.
Users may come for the UI, but they’ll stay for the UX!
“It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
Don Norman (Co-founder of Nielsen Norman Group)
UX Design Is Not A Single Discipline
The term ‘user experience design’ was created in the mid-1990s by Donald Norman. He used the term to describe a complete experience with a system, beyond human interface and usability, including industrial design, graphics, interface, physical interaction and the user manual. Today, the term UX design is frequently used without an understanding of its origin, meaning and intention.
Before T&T, I was unaware that many different disciplines make up UX Design. Including, but not limited to: Information Architecture, Content Strategy, Competitive Analysis, User Research, Interaction Design, and Usability Testing. UX is multi-disciplinary, requiring collaboration between business groups, technology groups and end users. However, understanding different disciplines does not mean that a designer needs to practice them all.
By dividing responsibility for solving an issue among a range of professionals, the solution becomes more likely to solve real user concerns.
Here at T&T we take a ‘hybrid intelligence’ approach by combining the best interaction and visual designers with researchers, business strategists, subject-matter experts and innovators to create ground-breaking new products for our clients.
UX Design Is Not Optional In Success
Whilst UX design is usually an afterthought, it should not be. The integration of UX into a company is crucial, especially in this modern age of increasing competition.
The Usability Professionals Association have outlined the 6 major benefits of a UX focused design:
- Increased productivity
- Increased sales
- Decreased training and support costs
- Reduced development time and costs
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Increased customer satisfaction
A study conducted by Forrester Research demonstrated that an improved UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. The metrics clearly speak for themselves.
Good UX design can reduce risk, maximise ROI and increase the success of a project. To stay competitive, institutions need to take up these practices now! And I mean NOW.
“For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.”
Robert Pressman (‘Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach’)
If you have any questions and/or would like to broaden your knowledge of UX (just like I did) and explore what we could possibly do for you, please get in touch!