Most users spend 15 seconds on a webpage before clicking away. UX design plays a crucial role in creating an engaging and rewarding experience for your users.
User experience focuses on three main elements: the product, the user and the interaction between them. UX is about designing the interaction between the product and the user in a way that makes the product easy to understand, useful, and enjoyable.
The user experience design process is similar to design thinking in that it starts with getting a thorough understanding of user requirements by mapping the context in which the product is used. It continues with prototyping the solution and finally evaluating it against user requirements.
How we experience design
Our emotional system affects the way we experience the world. In “Emotional design: why we love or hate everyday things”, Don Norman distinguishes between three levels of emotion: visceral, behavioural and reflective.
User experience designers strategize by referring to these three different ways in which users experience a product. Visceral design answers the question “what is the first impression a product leaves you with, both in terms of how it looks and how it makes you feel?” In design, this is conveyed through colours, type font, and style, to reveal the feelings and beliefs you want users to associate with your product.
The behavioural level refers to how we experience a product in use. This level is subconscious and automatic. It’s all about feeling in control and being ready to act. Behavioural design refers to usability, how useful is a product, and what tasks can be accomplished with it. Behavioural design is the easiest to test. When we manage to complete the tasks well, our emotions towards the product will be positive, and we’ll perceive it as a valuable product.
The reflective level encompasses our reflections on the product, before during and after the use. At this level we’re consciously analysing the pros and cons of the design, trying to understand what it means to us as individuals. Emotional design is about creating products that make a statement and express the status quo.
Complex vs complicated design
User experience design is all about making users’ lives easier by helping them to get what they want. In “Living with complexity”, Norman, makes the distinction between complex and complicated. Complexity is a given in our world. We like complex stories, sophisticated gadgets, intricate relationships. Complexity is good. A complex system can be deconstructed in simpler elements we can understand and relate to. What we don’t want is to build complicated products or services. Complicated means confusing, unstructured, and random. We can’t grasp the underlying principles of a complicated product. According to Norman, the talent of a UX designer lies in the ability to tame the complexity that we need in our lives.
UX design deliverables
Since it has been proposed by Norman, while VP at Apple, many used the term UX in different slightly confusing ways. To make it even clearer what UX design is, we decided to post a list of deliverables that UX designers are expected to present to stakeholders. It’s important to mention that these deliverables are the result of collaborations with product designers, engineers, anthropologists, coding and especially branding and marketing professionals which are all about communicating a vision, a “how we’d like to be perceived by our users”.
Some of the most common deliverables for UX designers are usability-tests, reports, wireframes and prototypes, sitemaps, personas, and flowcharts.
When designing, it helps to create a Persona, which is the archetypal user. A persona represents more than needs to be fulfilled, aspirations, and dreams. A Persona has a story, a lifestyle, the environment in which it exists. It’s tremendously inspirational to design for a person you know. It’s like you know that your work has a direct impact on this person’s life.
Another UX deliverable is the storyboard, an idea borrowed from the film industry. It’s a collection of “real life situations” in which the user interacts with the product. What the storyboard shows is not only the way users interact with a product but also the environment in which the product is used which can have a significant impact on the way the product is designed.
The customer journey map represents the steps a customer has to take to reach a specific goal. These tasks can be anything from taking a picture, finding a place on a map, or getting a problem solved with the help of the customer service team. Experience maps can quickly reveal the changes in context, the positives aspects and problems to solve and opportunities to improve.
In conclusion, user experience design is the entire process of using a product. It also encompasses the environment in which the product exists. A UX designer’s job is to deal with complexity in the most strategic and straight forward possible way.