UX, or user experience, can be a confusing and daunting topic. Many people have a tough time explaining what designing for a user experience means, or what a UX Designer actually does.
Simply put, user experience is the process a UX Designer takes to create a simple, meaningful and extremely intuitive interaction between a user and a digital or physical product, while still accomplishing business needs and goals. Here are a few common misconceptions about UX:
- UX is the same as UI. When most people hear UX design, they immediately picture an application’s UI, or user interface. These terms are often used interchangeably, but UI is only part of the concept of UX design. UX focuses on the user’s pathway to solve a problem or accomplish a task. UI is focused on how a product looks and functions. Both elements are crucial to a product or service and work closely together. But a Designer could specialize in just UX, just UI or both!
- UX and CX are the same. Customer experience, or CX, is also closely tied to UX, but it’s a much larger concept. While UX focuses on a customer’s interactions and ability to easily use digital products and applications, customer experience is an umbrella term that encompasses all channels and touchpoints relevant to a customer’s perceptions of a brand and services as a whole. Those touchpoints still include digital products, but also encompass a company’s advertising, social media, in-store experiences and customer service.
- It’s just about aesthetics. A pretty user interface or product grabs your attention, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to use. Aesthetics are the final touch that should complement a usable product. UX design is first and foremost about how it functions and provides value to its users, as well as how it looks and feels. Great user experiences are a must if a product design is to succeed, and that starts with usability. Customers will not care how amazing a product looks if they are unable to navigate it.
- It’s exclusive to digital. Digital products are not the only commodity that can benefit from UX. Any product or encounter that involves a user results in some kind of experience. So, the design of any digital or physical product, service or experience considers how the user will interact with and feel about that particular experience. Think about how you feel when you walk into Disney World (or Land) – that’s user experience at its best.
- It’s about one function. UX design is an ongoing process, not just a single step in the design process. It’s a constant and evolving practice of design thinking around a customer’s interactions with a company’s services and products.
- It’s only about usability. The product must be easy to use by all of a company’s customers in order for a positive experience that somehow converts into business. But the design has to meet business goals and objectives. UX design starts with meeting the business’s needs, and evolves based on the user’s needs, pain points and goals.
- UX design is optional. UX design should always come before build. In the haste to get a product to market, many businesses will rush or completely forgo the UX process with plans to revisit it at a later date. Skipping the full UX process will cause more work in the end. Similar to aligning business goals and product requirements, UX design should be part of the initial planning process and be considered at every step. An interior designer does not start picking out paint colors or furniture without first consulting their client’s needs. Similarly, a business should always consider the user throughout the entire planning process.
UX design is a process, culture and mindset that marries business objectives with user needs and desires. A product or service must meet both to be successful. And having UX experts handling that experience is imperative to your company’s success. Need more convincing? Read our new ebook, “How a UX pro can bring profit to your company.”
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About the author
Karissa Buckner serves as Recruiting Manager for Synergis, a top IT and creative staffing firm, where she has been focused on creative recruiting for more than 5 years. As the company’s democratically appointed UX Queen, she focuses on working with all types of UX, UI, VUI and Research candidates, and networks in the UX community every chance she gets. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.