The mystery of the UXD

The mystery of the UXD

User experience (UX) is about how a person feels about using a system. User experience highlights the experiential, effective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI) and product ownership, but it also covers a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system.

User experience is subjective in nature, because it is about an individual’s performance, feelings and thoughts about the system. User experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change. – Wikipedia

I couldn’t agree with the upper statement more, especially with the part that user experience is subjective in nature. The truth is we cannot really design experience, how could we? We can design for the subjective experience of our preferred users, and it’s really all about them. Who, what, why, when… are all the questions that we need to answer while designing for their experience.

But it all sounds so theoretical, right? You probably still have no clue what UX Design is or what UX Designer does.

In short UXDs are like architects. We do market research, talk with clients, create blueprints called wireframes, prototypes, we iterate with the “workers”, and test if the design works in real life.

Think about it like this:

You want to build a new house. You have an idea and the land. You go to the architect and you talk, he does market research, talks with other architects, and observes how the other similar houses are made. He comes back to you and you guys refine the idea. He then goes heads down and creates a plan, draws blueprints, gets your approval, and hands this over to builders. Most of the time he’ll also work with landscape architect and interior designer. Then the builders build it, and the the designer and landscape architect finish the work with making it beautiful. In the end inspectors come to see if everything as should be, and give you the keys to your house.

In this short story, you are the client, UX designer is the architect, builders are developers, landscape architect and interior designers are UI designers, and the inspectors are the quality assurance people.

This would be a simple description of how I see a person working as UXD. And I write, how I see, because if you’d ask 10 people, what a UXD does or what UXD is, you’d probably get 10 different answers.  Sometimes UX Designers, because of the needs of the clients (employers), have to also do other work, like create User Interfaces, code, do analytic… Those that can do this expertly are so called UX Ninjas or unicorns… honestly, I haven’t met one that would be expert in all of these different fields yet. If you meet one, please introduce us, I’d love to learn and talk to her/him.

No matter how much of a specialist or a generalist a UXD is, we all strive to create UIs (user interfaces) that are:

  1. useful,
  2. easy to use,
  3. appealing,
  4. engaging.

I’ll go into all 4 more in the next posts, but just to make it clear, these 4 goals have very little to do with the visual design even though we talk about designing. When I talk about designing and user experience, I always talk about the design behind the visual design.

UX Designers are traditionally not artists or coders, but we are the most curious and diversity loving people.

Until next time,

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