Do you need it? Let’s find out first if you know what UX actually is.
UX stands for User Experience. Some people have already been thinking for a while that the term has its origin in the digital world, something that the technological industry has known how to feed with all kinds of content. In this article we will cover all that you need to know about UX Design.
What is the User Experience for?
In our daily and digital life, UX is understood as the work that is done to improve a product/service and that is functional, which will leave the user with a good experience when consuming/using it.
To get to the real root of what UX is, we would have to go back to the Industrial Revolution and the technological advances of the 19th and 20th centuries, when businessmen saw the way to improve their work processes in order to optimize production time. Recognized cases are those of Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford. In those years there was already a constant concern to investigate the production process and how it directly related to the interaction of workers and their work elements (tools, machines).
The practice of researching to find solutions in a production environment was perfected, acquiring the quality of a methodology that was applied based on previous experiences (such as Ford’s) and adapting them to new situations. One of the most applied methods during much of the twentieth century has been market research, as a tactic to improve, based on public analysis, a product or service.
But it was not until the mid-1990s that the term User Experience, which was used for the first time in a job title, was heard with force. It was Don Norman, an authority on studies related to the field of cognitive experiences and technological products who held the position of User Experience Architect in Apple laboratories. Since then the term has continued to expand into different branches of technology.
Interface Design (UI), User Experience (UX) and Interaction Design (IxD) are often used interchangeably. Not only are they not synonymous, but each implies a different process and focus.
What is the difference between them? And why is it important to know that difference?
Interface Design or UI
UI is the acronym for User Interface. The user interface covers all the ways in which an app, website or software interacts with its users. The central part of this work involves designing and improving the appearance of the pages with which the user will interact.
Although much more restricted than the UX design, the UI design starts from the interaction models conceived by the UX designer and puts them into practice, making the necessary adjustments to make the interaction between the user and the app easier and more intuitive.
It focuses on the interface, or in other words, on what is inside the screen. When you design interfaces the problem you are solving is in the design: selection and distribution of the interface elements (e.g. texts and form fields), consistency of the design (with the platform, with other screens), etc. It is important to clarify that Interface Design is not equivalent to Graphic Design: the interface design may or may not include graphic design. For example, when you make a wireframe you are designing an interface but you are not applying graphic design, and when you apply style rules to an interface you are applying graphic design but you are not designing an interface.
What does a UI UX designer do?
First things first: UX and UI design are two different elements of a single consumer experience. UX refers to the user experience, which focuses on how something works and how people interact with it. UI, or user interface, focuses on the look and layout.
What is UX in web design?
UX Design refers to the term User Experience Design, while UI Design stands for User Interface Design. Both elements are crucial to a product and work closely together.
What is good UX design?
UX, or user experience, is every interaction your business has with people on your website, mobile site, apps, and online properties or services. That might sound like an exhausting number of situations to consider, but creating good UX design means focusing on the user, no matter where they are.
User Experience or UX
As we said, UX is the acronym for User Experience. The UX or user experience designer would be the person who performs all the planning of the user experience of an app, website, software or service. UX design includes user research, information architecture, interaction design, usability tests and content strategies.
What’s new about UX design is that all of the processes described above are done with a user or client focus. This implies that it is necessary to understand the habits, needs and behaviours of the user in order to create prototypes and effective solutions.
It focuses on the user and the experience they want to achieve. UX refers to what the user experiences before, during and after interacting with the device. This is extremely important designing websites and ecommerce business nowadays. Without incorporating the user, UX cannot be done. For this reason, it is fundamental in the design of the experience to first understand the users and their real motivations and needs, to consider from that place which interface, which contents and which interactions will achieve the desired result, and finally, to validate with users the results produced by the proposed interface.
The validation can be done directly (tests with users, qualitative interviews, mental models survey), or indirectly (heat maps, A/B testing, click maps).
The difference between direct and indirect validation is not only methodological. Direct validation is usually qualitative, that is, it allows us to know why users do what they do, while indirect validation shows us what they do, but does not tell us why. Therefore, it is good to first validate the experience qualitatively as “coarse adjustment”, and then quantitatively to look for “fine adjustment”.
Interaction Design or IXD
It is a question of defining the ways of operating the interface (for example, if the entry of information or selection takes place by means of keyboard, mouse, touch, or a combination of them), the flows of operation and the answers of the system. In short, it focuses on the contact between the user and the device.
So why is it important to know the difference between UI /UX / IXD?
Returning to the initial question, there are two answers:
On the one hand, so that we can clearly communicate what we are doing, and what scope we are taking.
On the other hand, in order to generate a common language with those who place the order with us. If all parties understand that Interface Design (UI) does not necessarily imply User Experience (UX), we may be lucky to no longer be asked to “add UX to the screen”; and, if we are not so lucky, at least we will know how to ask the necessary questions to understand exactly what they are asking us, and help reformulate that request according to the real need.
Then, do I actually need a UX designer?
Hiring a UX designer is a great decision, but before moving forward with the incorporation it will be necessary to study the situation of the company and analyze why you need to invest in a UX designer portfolio or request information from an agency.
You need to understand that this person is not a graphic designer but a strategist who helps to solve business problems related to the experience of the users, is the first thing that must be tackled.
Therefore, some humbleness is needed on the part of the company: there is a difficulty and external help is needed. Sometimes pride leaves many businessmen blind, and they don’t want to realize that an extra hand -which is outside the intimate executive circles- can be fundamental when it comes to resolving conflicts and finding a way to solve them.
Therefore, a change of mentality is required: to get out of a model that is closed in on itself, to accept that other professionals, such as freelance designers can give their opinion on the future of business, to allow changes and to remove the obstacles that prevent innovative processes from being set in motion.
You should study the big ones before hiring a UX designer. Whoever has made the decision, be it a CEO, a manager or an area director, will have to do a personal exercise: observe what the companies of the world that place all their trust in UX do and that are producing profound changes in the way they do business. For example check some ecommerce brands such as Amazon, AliExpress, Apple and Disney, if we name some of the biggest, but there are more, of course.
As it happens, many software companies are adding UX equipment to their internal structure. Recently, this area is showing a growing interest in integrating and training UX professionals to strengthen and expand their portfolio of services. It is also necessary to take into account all that these firms are doing.
Anyone can notice that all these companies place the user and their needs at the center of the strategy and that the relationship with the client is given through digital channels that have their own ecosystem. What these companies teach us is that there is no problem solving without an adequate transformation.
Do you actually understand the value of UX design?
Of course all this is not as simple as it seems. For many organizations, hiring a UX desing freelancer is cumbersome because they don’t understand that UX is an intangible and a means to an end. They must understand that the consultant UX portfolio will help to build strategies that will allow them to advance towards a new business model where the experience of the users is as important as the products or services. UX is essentially a strategic issue.
However, there will be no real talent interested in the company if it does not show an interest in research and development.
Digitally transforming a company involves creating, prototyping and testing ideas that sometimes work and other times get in the way. It’s totally normal! Therefore, before starting the professional search, it will be necessary to consider a free path towards innovation, the search for solutions and the testing of products.
When starting the search process to hire a UX designer, it is recommended that the manager transmits to the recruiter all the concerns raised here. In addition, regardless of the size of the company or project, you will need to find an experienced strategist, and that means budget and some patience or reaching the right agency. At Software & IT Outsourcing we have the right answer for your company. Get in touch today.