The Basics of User Experience (UX) Design | ODEA

The Basics of User Experience (UX) Design

What comes to mind when you hear the word “designer”? Most people tend to think of a graphic designer. But designers take on many more forms than that – web developers, architects, plant managers, teachers, chemists, journalists, composers, and CEOs are all designers in their own way. Italian artist Bruno Munari said that “A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense”. The core of design comes from being a planner and being able to organize information in a way that is usable for its intended audience. That’s user experience in a nutshell!

User Experience (UX) is all about the usability of a product for its intended audience. What are they experiencing as they interact with a product?

When it comes to user experience design, it’s all about crafting a product (website, brochure, office space, city – anything!) that has the audience’s preferences, desires and habits in mind.

Here are a few basics to consider when it comes to UX design:

1. It’s All About Research!

You may think you know your audience inside and out, but there is probably a lot about their habits, preferences and desires that would surprise you. That’s why it’s critical to incorporate research into your project. This can take the form of observations, interviews, A/B testing or surveys. Collect as much knowledge as you can before diving into your project because you may find that the problem you thought you were trying to solve for isn’t actually the problem at all. Knowledge is power!

2. Brainstorm Away!

The first solution you come up with might not always be the best one. Continue to brainstorm with your team and use phrases such as “How might we….?” to pose questions in an open-ended way that allows you to address the specific problem without throwing a bunch of solutions at the wall.

3. Get Organized!

When working on a project that has a lot of content, such as a website, it’s vital to organize all the information before you start dropping it in place. For example, that’s why we create a sitemap for websites that lays out the pathways for navigating the site (e.g. this page leads to this page). As you start to visualize the logistics of your site, you’ll be able to address UX problems – such as where a web visitor would find contact information and what messages should be communicated on the homepage.

4. TEST, TEST, TEST!

Even with brainstorming, organization, and research, your product still needs usability testing. Once you create a prototype, draft, or rough sketch of your product, get it in the hands of your target audience and have them provide you with some feedback. Does it address their problems? Did it create any new problems? Is it pleasant to use? What questions come up during their interaction? Once you receive some input, you can go back and adjust before launching the final product.

To learn a little bit more about UX design, listen to our latest Brain Lava podcast episode where Stephanie and Megan share a few of their thoughts and recent learnings: