If we look at it broadly, User Experience (UX) design can be broken down into three distinct components: the look, the feel, and the usability. For a product to win over users’ hearts and carve a place for itself in their lives, it has to deliver on all three counts.
And although every designer strives to innovate and add a personal touch, many have learned the hard way that the success of any design relies on its capacity to do something familiar in a new way. That’s because user experience trumps everything else.
The Development of Technology and Interaction
Architecting the experiences of tomorrow is as exciting as it is challenging. As a designer, you’re tasked with dreaming up futuristic products that look and function almost like the ones we are using today, while, at the same time, blowing our minds away with life-changing ideas. Technologies like VR, voice, and artificial intelligence are so out there that they put great focus on delivering an A-class user experience to instill the feeling of familiarity through exceptional UX design.
The technologies that have already made an impact on us are driven by and aspire to create a user-centered, intuitive experience that feels and works as expected. Take, for example, conversational bots. To imitate human behavior and make the user feel like they’re interacting with a real human being, bots use tricks like indicating that they’re “typing” or taking a moment before replying to make the response feel more natural. They also take advantage of emoji reactions and instant informal replies, like “OK, I’m on it,” and so on. Designed to make you feel as though you’re talking to a human, bots rely on excellent user experience and interaction.
It’s becoming apparent that the more revolutionary the technology becomes, the stronger the demand for easily accessible UI and UX design. However innovative the technology is, it is useless if people can’t figure it out.
The Importance of UX Design and Why Every Designer Should Learn It
The simple reality is that you can be the most creative designer with the most outlandish ideas, but if your designs are inaccessible, they won’t be a success. UI and UX are two sides of the same coin. There’s no way a designer can succeed in the current business climate, where customers have become users, without knowing how to meet and exceed their expectations. User experience has proved to be the secret sauce that turned successful startups into unicorns (think Uber) and great products into must-haves (think Apple).
There are a few prominent reasons why UX design skills and knowledge can not only help designers land and maintain better jobs, but also outperform their targets and create slicker designs.
You Must Design Human-First Products
The total user experience design draws on skills and perspectives in all business areas from product and packaging to marketing and customer services. When creating for humans, designers must factor in people’s behavior, preferences, context and the goals and aspirations they’re trying to achieve. This means the designer should involve real users in the design process from day one. With the abundance of interactive research tools like user testing via video or social media, designers have no excuse for ignoring the needs and expectations of potential customers. It’s also essential to remember that the experience using a product is just one part of the total sum; everything from branding and educational stage, to online or in-store shopping and setup need to be considered to create a smooth total user experience.
You Must See the Big Picture and Consider the Unlikely
Not seeing the big picture as you’re working through a to-do list of small things that end up taking all your time is a big problem in design. You might excel at choosing the right color scheme for your designs or pairing the fonts elegantly, but if users can’t find their way around and leave the site unable to accomplish their goals, you can hardly call it a success. To create an intuitive user experience, designers must understand the context in which the product is used and this can only be achieved by watching users work and use the product. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back from your work and take on a fresh perspective to discover your own lapses of thinking.
You Must Find a Path of Least Resistance
You’re right in thinking that getting a user from point A to point B doesn’t always have to be a straight line, but it most certainly has to follow the path of least resistance. The way a product’s content, features and functions are organized will have a huge impact on the user experience. To make sure the UI is spotless and meets user expectations, designers resort to carrying out exercises like card sorting, creating site architecture maps, drawing task flow diagrams, and wireframing. Long before you start thinking about visuals and graphics, you must ensure the proposed designs are easy to navigate and understand.
You Can Help People Transform Their Lives
People often think that design is only concerned with how things look; but it is so much more powerful than that. Those who master the skill and are able to build their work on the principles of consumer psychology, can and do change people’s lives for better. If you take a look at the new wave of products that are influencing people’s behavior and daily routines, it becomes clear that designers indeed have the power to form new or change existing habits. From encouraging people to exercise more (Fitbit or Apple Watch) to helping people take control of their finances (Plum, PocketGuard or Mint), to organizing their life more effectively (Evernote, Mailbox, Todoist, etc). Good design can help people take action and achieve specific goals without much trouble.
Forrester Research recently released a report demonstrating that user interfaces that deliver above user expectations can increase conversion rates by up to 200%, while high-quality user experience design can bump up conversion rates by 400%.
It’s no surprise then that companies across the world are seeking to recruit designers with UX design skills as well as encourage their own design teams to immerse themselves in the UX knowledge. To create better and more innovative user experiences, businesses must embrace the trend and make user experience their top priority. Naturally, designers with the right skills and design know-how are now some of the most sought-after talents.