With so many different variables involved in web development and design, it has become a crucial step that certain aspects of the process be defined further. Where there is a “jack of all trades” so to speak, there are those who are a bit more detail oriented and point specific in their approach to the design process. Focusing upon the User Experience, the tern UX designer has emerged, but what is a User Experience (UX) designer?
Going beyond aesthetics
Many times, a website’s design is focused more to the visual appearance and search engine optimization than to the user’s experience. It is true that graphics and SEO are fundamental parts of a website. Yet, if a site is found but is not functional or user friendly than all the SEO has been in vain as a user will not want to stay upon the site.
A UX designer ensures that the site engages the user from the start. There are several different aspects that go into the user interaction and functionality. There is no one “hat” or skill. There are a few common techniques and procedures which any UX designer will eventually be a part of.
• Wireframing – One of the first steps within a website or an application design is to maintain some form of consistency in the pages design. Those designers that just jump into a web program (such as MUSE or DreamWeaver) without making a wireframe have no definitive plan. Worse still, are those which plug their content into a webpage template. The UX designer makes a wireframe (which in the simplest terms are a bunch of grey scale boxes which determine the placement of material within a website) mock-up to see how the site will look at its core. If the layout is confusing in the simple block mode, think of how chaotic it will become once graphic content is added.
• Graphics and buttons design – The UX designer (alongside the programmer and graphic designer) ensures that the look of the graphic is current with the marketing trends. For example: A site with only text and DOS like graphics would probably not have a high rate of viewers and very low user interactivity. On the other hand, a site which is designed to have more of the app look which is currently at a peak in popularity are sure to have better results.
• User testing and feedback – There are many different terms which are used for testing, but it is the UX designer’s job to ensure that the data from these tests are analysis and that a solution is met which will best encourage user interactivity and engagement. Most of the time a great site will have a soft launch, an alpha testing, a beta testing, and then a final launch.
UX designers overall scope
Where it is true that UX designers are typically only for web and app development, a UX designer can be used for other digital products. This is due to the overall scope of a UX’s job. Yes, the User Experience Designer is focused on the design aspect of a product, they are also involved in:
• Assessing the value of a product
• Determining if the product is useful
• Finding if the product be easily found on the internet
• Once found the UX determines if the product can actually be easily used
• Addressing the value of the product as well as its credibility
• Determining how accessible your product is to the public
Typically, there is not one individual that carries the entire weight of the user experience. There may be a supervising UX designer, but there is so much involved in the proper construction and presentation of user interaction and functionality in a product that one person cannot handle the scope individually.
Consider a highly interactive website or an app. When looking at the construction of such a site or an app, one will quickly see that there are various levels of detail involved. From the wireframing, testing, and graphics to marketing, analytics, and the interface architecture, even the simplest of apps is not so simple.
Why hiring a UX designer is essential to your product or page
Hopefully by now it is understood how complex a well thought out user interface can be. Engaging your viewers, establishing a persona to your written content that is both engaging and SEO ready, as well as having a design that is manageable from a developer’s point of view are what UX designers do. Using a template or a plug in can only get you so far. Establishing a working relationship with a professional whose job it is to ensure that users not only can use your site or product but actually enjoy doing so will ensure that your site or product does not fall into the abyss of good ideas with poor execution.