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  • Jessica

What is User Experience (UX) all about?

What is UX design, and what does a UX designer/ researcher actually do? With UX being a relatively new field, it is no surprise that there remains a lot of confusion on the responsibilities of the UX team within an organisation.

To put it simply, UX design focuses on the interaction between human users and everyday products and services. It’s an extremely varied discipline, combining aspects of psychology, business, market research, design, and technology. The term, User Experience, was first popularized by Don Norman - a cognitive psychologist and designer, who was working at Apple Computer with a self-selected title of User Experience Architect in the 1990s. Don Norman was interested in all aspects of a user’s experience with a product or service, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, and physical interaction. To encompass all of the different elements that determine how a user feels while interacting with a product, he came up with the term “user experience”.

To ensure that users’ needs are met, A UX designer’s typical tasks will often involve user research, the creation of personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes as well as testing designs. As a UX designer, it’s important that you can collaborate effectively with those around you—from clients and stakeholders to developers and fellow designers, all the way through to the end user. Business knowledge is also necessary to understand both the goals of the company and the needs of the target audience. A key aspect of UX which interests me the most is research as it helps us learn about the users’ behavior, goals, motivations, and needs. It also shows us how they currently navigate a system, where they have problems and, most importantly, how they feel when interacting with our product.

As the Interaction Design Foundation writes, a UX designer should always consider the “Why”, “What” and “How” of product use. The “Why” involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with it or to values and views which users associate with the ownership and use of the product. The “What” addresses the things people can do with a product. Finally, the “How” relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and pleasant way.

Lastly, adopting an agile methodology in UX allows for collaboration, prototyping and continuous improvement to products and processes within an organization.

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