I recently made a decision to change careers and become a UX Designer. Explaining my new career path to friends and family outside of the tech industry is always interesting, especially since a UX Designer can be so many different things.
When most people hear User Experience Designer, they tend to focus on the “designer” part of the title and completely forget about the “user experience” part.
I put together a short list to help explain what UX Designers do in their natural habitat to help our non-tech friends understand us better.
1. Users come first.
A common thing I have noticed when discussing my projects with people outside of the UX bubble is that I’ll receive a lot of suggestions and ideas for new apps. Which is great, because collaborating and getting feedback is an important part of UX. But they have it backwards.
We start projects focused on the user. We end projects focused on the user. User experience is all about enhancing the experience for our users. This requires a lot of research and testing to make sure we can achieve this goal.
Once we understand our users, then we can begin working on a solution to whatever their pain points are.
User experience designers aren’t here to create the next big thing in the app industry. There’s more to it than that.
2. It’s not all about picking out the prettiest colors.
We’re not here just to make things look pretty. Sure, design is an important aspect to UX, but it has a different definition to us than most people.
When working on a project, every aspect of the design should have a purpose. Why did you add a button there? Why is the local navigation on this side instead of the other? Why did you arrange the information in that order?
We answer these questions by going through a process called Design Thinking.
The design thinking process begins by working to empathize with the user in order to understand and then define the problem. Up next you work on possible solutions to the problem then test it with your users.
A very important part of this process is that it is nonlinear. Meaning that you can go back in the process to implement feedback from your users that you gained through testing.
This means that design in user experience looks a little less like this….
And a lot more like this
3. No, I can’t create a new app for you in a month.
I mean, sure I could. But do you want it to be good? Good user experience design is typically done by a team over a period of time.
With user experience being such a big umbrella, it takes many different skill sets to work on a project.
You have your User Researchers who will be conducting user interviews and empathizing with the end users to understand the problem. Then there’s your Information Architect who will organize the content for your site or app. We also have the visual designers or User Interface designers. There’s also the front-end developments who implement the visual design. And the list goes on.
Of course, there will be UX Designers who can wear multiple hats, but it’s very rare to come across someone who can do it all and do it all well.
In fact, we have a term for it because of how difficult it is to find someone who has all of these skills. We call it the UX Unicorn. Do they exist? I don’t know. You tell me!
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