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What is UX Design and why is it so important?

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User Experience (UX) design is powerful.

  • Every dollar invested in UX Design leads to a profit of $100.
  • 88% of users return to a website less often after a poor user experience.
  • 90% of users report that they stop using an app due to a bad experience.

The user experience is one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining customers. Below we explain what UX Design is all about and why it can be an incredibly valuable tool for any business. We also clarify examples of good and bad UX design and show you what makes a good UX designer.

What is UX Design?

UX Design deals with the interaction between people and everyday products. The latter do not necessarily have to be digital products like websites or apps. The principle can also be applied to cars or cups.

And yet: Amazon, Netflix and co have massively changed the way we interact with products. The website or app is also the product. So there is no question that it has to be as polished as possible. For example, intuitive usability is essential for this. If you don't understand a product at first go and can't find your way around, you'll soon be gone again. And the competition never sleeps. Apple, too, probably owes the huge success of its iPhone not least to its thoroughly intuitive design.

User experience design encompasses many areas at once, such as

  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Market research
  • Design
  • Technology

Thus the discipline is more diverse than many others - and therefore extremely varied. It also extends across the entire Customer Journey - from a customer's first contact with the company to complaints management.

Let's keep the history short. Just this much: The idea of designing tools or workplaces in a user-friendly way is old. Very old. However, from the end of the 20th century onwards, the topic gained momentum and found its way into large-scale industry, such as Henry Ford's production process. Further concretizations on "products made for users" followed. User Experience was first defined in concrete terms by the cognitive scientist Dan Norman, who was then employed by Apple.

"User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end user's interaction with the company, its services and products." - Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect

Today, the topic is often closely interwoven with technology. Usability of apps and loading time of websites are often massive factors contributing to UX.

The most important elements

In general: A product should meet 3 requirements:

3 important requirements for the user experience of products: Be useful, useful and desirable
The 3 requirements for great products

3 important requirements for the user experience of products: Be useful, useful and desirable
The 3 requirements for products

  • Useful - Does it fulfil its purpose? Does it do its job well? Does it possibly provide unprecedented assistance?
  • Usable - What is the experience of using it? Pleasant? What's wrong? What helps?
  • Desirable - Is the product designed in a way that is attractive?
The UX Design Process: Understanding, Ideating, Testing, Crafting
The UX Design Process

Why is UX Design so Important?

User experiences are everywhere - intentionally or unintentionally. Every situation we find ourselves in follows a certain design. Only those who proactively change it gain control over it.

UX Design enables companies to approach problems from the user's perspective. To understand them. To fulfill their wishes. Each of us has our own wishes and challenges in everyday life. Understanding these for specific groups of people and seeing the world from their perspective can be the superpower of a company.

Only those who understand their users down to the smallest detail can create the best possible solutions for them. Products that meet the needs of users particularly well are used more. They are recommended more.

Google Search queries for the term "UX Design" have tripled over the last 5 years.
Google Search Volume for "UX Design" in the last 5 years, worldwide

Companies have also recognized this. As you can see from the trend of the global search volume over the last 5 years, the demand for UX design has tripled in this time!In his TED-Talk, UX Designer Johannes Ippen gives a nice overview - why UX design is powerful but can also be dangerous.

Examples for Good and Bad UX Design

Ryanair's "Dark UX Design

An example of bad ("dark") UX design: The attempt to deceive the user into buying additional products that he does not want.
An example for "Dark UX Design" (Source: 90percentofeverything.com)

Maybe this situation looks familiar to you: You just want to book a flight. But first you have to click your way through a lot of confusing pages. People try to sell you insurance or car rentals - and often you have to search before you find the "No, I really don't need international health insurance" option.

"Dark UX Design" is the name of this procedure. Why? Because it tries to confuse the user. It wants him to buy things that he may not need or want. If you have read this article so far, it should be clear why this is not a good example of good user experience design. On the contrary.

Information-Overload at the University of Advancing Technology

An example for bad UX design: The navigation of the UAT is very confusing and could use a better breakdown.
The navigation of the UAT quickly seems confusing (source: https://www.uat.edu/)

The University of Advancing Technology seems to have a wide range of courses without question.

However, the unclear navigation does not help with orientation. It is quite difficult to keep an overview of all the fields. Maybe categorize the points a little bit?

Google's lifesaver for email writers

Has this ever happened to you?

You write a time-consuming e-mail explaining the content of an attachment, send the mail and realize - you forgot the actual thing. Fortunately, Gmail offers a small but nice feature here: The mail client recognizes that you're talking about an attachment in the text, but haven't included it - and notifies you when trying to send.

An example for bad UX design: The navigation of the UAT is very confusing and could use a better breakdown.
GMail will tell you that you forgot to attach the mail (source: https://www.labnol.org/)

What Does a UX Designer Do?

Depending on your role, you may be asked to do all, some or only one of the following tasks as a UX Designer.

The most important areas are:

User Research

Every product starts with the user and real problems.

User Research can be diverse and basically refers to the research of users. The focus is on their needs and challenges as well as their behaviour, which includes all qualitative and quantitative methods.

This can be, for example, the implementation of user interviews or the creation of questionnaires. But also the active observation of user behaviour could be one of your tasks. You might observe how people operate their cars or use an app and draw conclusions from this.

Wireframes

Wireframes are drafts of internet pages or apps.

Wireframes are drafts of internet pages or apps. Only the most important elements or functions are shown here. Colors and fonts are completely omitted.

Example of a wireframe prototype as a task of the UX Designer
Example of a Wireframe

They are basically used for two further activities

  • User Testing: Do we focus on the right functions? Do users understand the purpose of this site?
  • Design concept: As a basis for design teams. The most important elements are defined. Now it's all about the design

For the creation you usually work with tools such as Balsamiq.

User Testing

Those wireframes are often used in User Testing. The user is guided through the concept drawings. His behaviour, his assumptions, his questions - all this is observed and recorded. Ultimately, the results serve as a basis for further iterations and improvements of the main functions.

Other forms of User Testing include focus groups where around 10 participants discuss the needs and expectations of a product. Beta tests and A/B tests of "finished" software also fall into this category.

In general, a small change to the user interface can have a big effect.

User testing plays an important role throughout the entire product lifecycle, not only in the design phase, but also with every small change to the product to ensure that it remains intuitively usable.

Cooperation with the development team

An often underestimated skill in user experience design is presentation. It can be part of a UX designer's daily routine to present new ideas, concepts and changes to other teams.

Since every team has a different background, a certain amount of translation work is required.

Bringing groups together and holding workshops

Finally, UX designers often conduct workshops with different teams and focus groups. This means you work a lot with other people and guide them through your agenda, so having fun with others is definitely not irrelevant here.

For those who want to learn more about UX Design

Whether you're a product manager, marketer, or in our stand-alone track for UX Designer, expand your skillset now. Free of charge.
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For Whom is UX Design Relevant?

The user experience is by no means only relevant for product teams.

Some examples:

  • E-marketing/SEO: Google's search algorithm is increasingly focusing on an optimized UX. Page load time, dwell time, navigability, the absence of annoying pop-ups and much more - such factors influence traffic via sites like Google directly or indirectly. The more helpful a page is for the user, the better it ranks. The better it ranks, the more traffic and ultimately customers are generated.
  • Customer Relationship Management: A good experience strengthens the relationship with products. People who enjoy using something also use it more often - and vice versa. The acquisition of new customers can be up to 5 times more expensive than the retention of existing customers.
  • Software Development & Product Management: What is more frustrating than developing products that nobody wants to use? Especially those who are deeply involved in development quickly lose sight of the essential - the people. However, people are the most important factor in developing successful products...
  • Really everyone: A good UX can be the unique selling point of a company. It can condemn products to failure. And thus also entire companies. Even in areas such as HR and Finance people like to work with tools. If you misjudge the usability of these, you may spend huge sums of money on a new tool that nobody uses. It should therefore be in everyone's best interest. A good feeling for user experience is helpful across all functions.

What Skills Does A UX Designer Need?

1. Research Methods

For many UX designers, the User Research department is central.

Among these are concrete tasks such as conducting interviews, creating questionnaires or observing users. Each discipline has its own characteristics and best practices that need to be mastered.

2. Empathy

UX designers create products for users. There is nothing more important than understanding them as well as possible. Empathy is the ability to put oneself into the perspective of those users. To see the world through their eyes. And ultimately to solve their everyday problems.

3. Collaboration

Regardless of the actual role, collaboration is one of the most important skills across all jobs today. Work efficiently with test users. Communicate results effectively to your teams. Collaborate with others. Collaboration is important.

4. Wireframing & Prototyping

We've discussed this before: Wireframing is the creation of concept drawings that contain the most important features. Work with the most common tools and learn best practices.

5. Coding (Basics)

No, as a UX Designer you don't have to be a programmer. As a rule (but depending on the company) you don't have to create any code yourself. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't know anything about it, but you do interact with the developers a lot.

In a way, you are their interface to the user. That's why it doesn't hurt to have a basic understanding of technology and IT infrastructure.

As a UX designer with strong coding skills, you are a bit ahead of most others. You can implement changes faster and are more flexible. Furthermore, new job hybrids between UX designers and software developers are emerging.

Deal with HTML, CSS, Javascript and JQuery - and you are already well prepared for the future.

6. Analytical Skills

Quantitative user tests, A/B tests, beta tests - they all have to be evaluated. The ability to generate insights from experiments quickly and efficiently is powerful. Tools like Google Optimize, Data Studio, Power BI, Analytics and many others are your companions.

7. Continuous Learning

New trends and developments, new features, new standards. Continuous learning is important, because the skills of today are already outdated by tomorrow due to constantly evolving technologies. Stay up to date. Develop yourself further.

Inclusive Design

Accessibility is more important than ever.

A clear trend is the use of technology to make products accessible to all. An example of this would be the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It enables people with various physical disabilities to enjoy video games.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller as an example of inclusive UX design
The Xbox Adaptive Controller as an Example of Inclusive Design

The Xbox Adaptive Controller as an example of inclusive UX design

Another example is automated captions (subtitles) in videos. These enable people with hearing impairments to fully understand the content of videos. Thanks to Machine Learning, these automatically generated subtitles are actually getting better and better.

Conversational AI

"Machines" are getting smarter and smarter - and more and more similar to humans.

One UX trend is clearly going in the direction of using AI to simulate human conversations.

Google Home and Conversational AI as an example for UX Design
Language assistants as an example for Conversational AI

Examples of such conversational interfaces:

  • Speech assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana,...
  • Chatbots: Facebook Messenger, Customer Service, on Landing Pages

Users often take advantage of the fact that they do not have to learn any interface. Rather, they should present their problems as they would in a normal conversation. In addition, the conversation style builds a stronger bond. Just the feeling of talking to a human-like being is enough for this.

Speed

Slow programs and websites can completely destroy any UX, no matter how good it is.

Long waiting times lead to frustration. Today we are spoiled more than ever. We expect answers to a search query within a few seconds. Patience, thereby, is lost.

Especially until 5G and the expansion of the mobile network has progressed further, there is no alternative to optimized pages.

Continuous Education in UX Design

Continuous learning is extremely important in the field of UX design.

Technologies develop fast. Trends come and go.

Expand your skillset across all disciplines of UX design and create products that are even easier to use. Products that inspire users.

Whether for Marketing Managers, Product Managers or UX Designers - we have the right offer for you.in which areas in UX Design you want to improve, you decide.
Examples:

  • User Research
  • Design
  • Information Architecture
  • Usability
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Navigation
  • Communication

Expand your skillset and create products that inspire people. More information about the free offer can be found here.

For those who want to learn more about UX Design

Whether you're a product manager, marketer, or in our stand-alone track for UX Designer, expand your skillset now. Free of charge.
Master UX Design