Guide To UX Design
UX design is one of the most important aspects of building a website. This expert guide explores everything there is to know about the principles, practices and history of the process.
User experience (UX) design is a key part of any website build.
Often mixed up with user interface design, UX design focuses on how a user interacts with a website.
Here at KIJO our team are experts in everything there is to know about UX designing which is why they’ve put together this guide full of tips, tricks and insights.
- What is UX Design?
- The History of UX
- UX Design Principles: The Quadrant Model
- Value of UX Design
- UX Design Principles
- UX Design Process
- How to Become a UX Designer
- Final Thoughts
What is UX Design?
UX design is a broad term that has many different definitions and meanings and can be interpreted differently by different designers.
Put simply however, UX design refers to how a user experiences a website. This is everything from how a user feels when they visit a website to how they interact with it, how the website responds and how a user accesses content.
User experience design refers to the steps taken during the creation of the website to improve the satisfaction of users by improving the website’s functionality and ease of use.
UX design is the process of designing a product that is easy to use, useful and enjoyable to interact with.
The History of UX
Did you know that the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui is perhaps the very first nod to UX design?
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Feng Shui is all about displaying objects in a harmonious and optimal way to create a user-friendly result. Sounds familiar right?
Fast forward to 1995 however and UX design gets its name. A cognitive scientist at Apple named Donald Norman came up with the term “user experience design” as a way of encompassing all that UX design entails.
For years before, companies such as Apple had been focusing on creating products that provided an exceptional user experience, they just didn’t have a name for it.
Even today, UX design continues to evolve. Things such as voice technology and artificial intelligence all provide UX designers with new challenges as they aim to create inclusive and accessible end products for everyone.
UX Design Principles: The Quadrant Model
The quadrant model classified user experience design into four quadrants, experience strategy, interaction design, user research and information architecture.
Experience strategy refers to the experience a user has with a website and how this fits in with the wider business goals and strategies for the brand. It is the concept of creating a holistic strategy that combines business goals with user experience.
Interaction design focuses on every single interaction a user makes with the finished product from link and button clicks to scrolling and animated transitions. Interaction design focuses on enabling users to undertake core tasks easily.
User research allows designers to understand what users want and need from websites. Primarily, websites should identify and solve users problems and user research ensures a website is meeting the needs of users. Without it, designers would simply be guessing.
Information architecture refers to presenting information in a way that’s easy to access and understand. It creates a structure and label for content that ensures users can easily find what they are looking for.
Value of UX Design
There are various reasons why investing in great UX design is important. The first could actually save you money…
Investing in UX design ensures the architecture of your website is set up to create a great user experience. There’s much less chance of uncovering usability issues further down the line that will cost you in development fees.
Other reasons that make UX design so valuable include things such as:
- UX design motivates users to convert, thus increasing your revenue.
- UX design encourages users to interact with your content.
- Great UX design creates a user experience that will encourage users to keep coming back, resulting in repeat custom for your business.
- UX design helps to promote trust in your brand which can be a big motivator for referrals and word of mouth marketing.
UX Design Principles
Alongside the quadrant model that we mentioned earlier, most UX designers will follow a set of guiding principles when designing websites.
Whilst UX design is constantly changing and evolving, there are a few core principles that remain the same.
Context is key for any type of design but particularly for UX designing. The job of UX design is to guide users through their journey and they should know at every stage, where they are within that journey. Each element of a website should be in context to the wider journey.
Showing the human side to a brand is essential, especially for digital products like websites. Nobody wants to feel like they are interacting with a machine and UX designers should aim to inject personality and empathy into their designs.
Navigating and interacting with your website should be easy. Landing on your site shouldn’t feel like a task to users. Instead UX design should create enjoyable and straightforward experiences that will help to build relationships with users.
Online users have notoriously short attention spans and one of the core principles that UX designers should follow is to keep websites as simple as possible. Don’t make a user click three buttons, scroll up and down and enter a password just to access a webpage. Users should be able to find the information they need in as few clicks as possible.
UX design should ensure everything within a website is easy to find. Users don’t want to waste time, instead they want to access what they need as quickly as possible…if they can’t they’ll find another website where they can.
UX Design Process
Every UX designer will approach their product differently, however the UX design process tends to follow the stages below.
Step one: Understand Your Users
The key to a great design is ensuring that it accurately meets the needs of users. The first step for UX designers therefore is to understand the end user and what they will be looking for in terms of their interactions with the website. There are various ways UX designers can undertake this research including via user tests, interviews and online surveys.
Step two: Create User Personas
Once you’ve undertaken user research, UX designers need to summarise the data they’ve collected. User personas allow you to categorise your users depending on their behaviour and needs. This allows you to better understand your users and tailor your designs to them accordingly.
Step three: Map Out User Journeys
Every user is unique and will interact with your website in a different way. A UX designer needs to determine what journey a user will take through the finished website, depending on their goal. It is the job of a UX designer to ensure users are able to find the quickest and easiest journey to achieve their initial goal.
Step four: Wireframes and Prototypes
A wireframe allows UX designers to map out the key content on any webpage. From a UX perspective, designers will analyse how the positioning on the webpage impacts the experience of the user. Through wireframes, UX designers can determine how each element of the layout helps or hinders a user’s journey. Once happy, these wireframes can be made into clickable prototypes.
A prototype is essentially the final draft of the website and allows you to see how all elements impact the flow and usability of the website. At this stage many UX designers will also run user testing to discover things such as if there are too many clickable elements on the page or if the user journey is too long.
Step five: The Handover
Once a UX designer is happy with the prototype, they will hand it over to coders and developers who will combine this with the UI designs to create the finished product.
How to Become a UX Designer
If becoming a UX designer sounds like something you would be interested in there are various steps you can take to make that a reality.
Of course you can undertake specific UX design courses or gain experience shadowing and working alongside existing UX designers and agencies.
It’s also a good idea to begin building up your own UX design portfolio that showcases your skills and explains the UX design process you have undertaken.
Key skills that UX designers usually need include:
- Knowledge of user behaviour and best practice.
- Ability to use industry tools.
- Wireframe and prototype creation.
- Analytical skills.
- UX design knowledge and understanding.
- Great communication.
- Problem solving skills.
So there we have it, KIJO’s ultimate guide to UX design.
In today’s online world it has never been more important to have great UX design. Building a website isn’t just about creating something that looks good, it needs to offer an excellent user experience. UX design ensures your website will stand the test of time and provide the standard of service users expect.
To find out how the KIJO team can help to create a winning UX design for your website, contact us today.
Posted on by Jordan Thompson