What role does UX

What actually is UX design?

Web services, apps and digital platforms are no longer add-ons to physical products, but rather integral components of the offerings themselves. Whether Amazon, Airbnb, Uber or Netflix: the service is the product. And this digitally usable and tangible service must convince people from start to finish with reliable and intuitive use. This convincing - and ideally inspiring - user experience across all touchpoints is the task and goal of user experience designers. With the user in focus, they work closely with other disciplines to design websites, mobile apps or Internet of Things applications that make people's lives easier.

With the user in focus, UX designers work closely with other disciplines to create products and services that make people's lives easier

User experience design goes far beyond the usability and interaction design of a product or service, because in addition to the pure usage phase, the touchpoints of future customers with the product or online service are considered and designed before, during and after use. Each of these points is thought through by UX designers with great attention to detail, since a negative customer or user experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can lead to a loss of trust in the product and to a bad reputation for the company as a whole.

Positive experiences with a brand's products or services, on the other hand, ensure convinced and loyal customers who in turn become brand ambassadors in their environment. The design-relevant professional fields that deal constructively with usability issues are diverse and range from user research and usability engineering to interaction design, screen design and user interface design to graphic design, visual design and motion design. They all deal with the design and improvement of a product or service for certain users and their task situations.

You can get a comprehensive view of the profession of user experience designer in the PAGE Connect eDossier"This is what a UX designer does at Aperto - An IBM Company":

View products holistically

The skills of pure product design are no longer sufficient today to successfully place new products on the market and to win customers and users. Apple was one of the first companies to understand this and hired Donald Norman as the world's first user experience architect in 1993. Norman was previously a professor of psychology and cognitive science at the University of California at San Diego and had
in his book "The Design of Everyday Things" (1988) discusses the psychological relationship between people and everyday objects, which can lead to either frustration or pleasure in using them.

The skills of pure product design are no longer sufficient today to successfully place new products and services on the market and to win customers and users

Since then, not only at Apple, user experience has been understood as a holistic view of the customer lifecycle. This assumes that customers deal with the expected product or service benefits long before buying or long before creating a user account. They want to know what they are spending their money on or what they are investing their time in. They want to know which functions the product has, under which manufacturing conditions the hardware was produced, which friends or colleagues are already using the system - and last but not least, what status the ownership of the product or membership in the respective network entails. None of this has anything to do with usability, because the potential customer has not even tried the product or service. Nevertheless, all of these aspects make a significant contribution to the user experience of the product or service.

Understand the user

The focus of the work of UX designers is always the users - especially the future ones - whose wishes and needs they determine through observations and surveys - be it analogue or digital. They condense the results of this user research into so-called personas, which exemplarily represent the potential users in the further design and development process. With these customer or user models, they use scenarios and storyboards to quickly and iteratively run through usage situations for new products and services. To do this, they do extensive prototyping: paper prototypes, wireframes and click dummies help to visualize, understand and test future system behavior on test subjects.

User experience includes perceptions of users and their reactions to a product or service during use as well as the expectation and anticipation before the actual application

The knowledge gained in this way is incorporated into the subsequent design round until the concept is convincing both in terms of personas and in the business context. These steps are just a few of the many procedures from the toolbox of a UX designer, in which design thinking, human-centered design, user (experience) journey mapping, cross-media storytelling or business model design also have their place.

These methods ensure that the UX Designer has a holistic view of the user and the context of use of a product or service. This is the only way to create an adequate and coherent offer, because coherence across the various channels, platforms and user interfaces is one of the central concerns of UX Design. To ensure the long-term success of a company, to develop new and innovative online services or even to generate ideas for start-ups, a holistic approach is required that encompasses all aspects of the customer experience. This includes: the branding, possible flagship stores in real life, the social media presence, but also interactive elements such as navigation, gesture control, animation or voice and chatbots as well as screen design, layout and typography. In this way, UX designers create the framework for products and services that lead to a positive user experience for customers, strengthen their trust in the brand and transform them into loyal ambassadors. UX designers always work closely with other disciplines, such as programmers, visual designers and project managers.

Shaping the user experience

It took until 2010 before the International Organization for Standardization first defined the term user experience as part of the ISO standard 9241-210 as a “process for designing usable systems”. User experience therefore includes the cognitive and emotional perceptions of users and their physiological and psychological reactions to a product or service during use as well as the expectation and anticipation before the actual application. All of these experiences influence the overall impression that customers get of the system and thus of the brand, the product and the company. The definition also explicitly takes into account services that are increasingly becoming a core business themselves, with a stronger service orientation contributing to a good user experience.

You can get a comprehensive view of the profession of user experience designer in the PAGE Connect eDossier"This is what a UX designer does at Aperto - An IBM Company":

In contrast to usability, user experience in the sense of this definition cannot be measured, as it is mainly about psychological and mental processes. User experience cannot be designed in the sense of the ISO standard either. In other words: There is - in the strict sense - no user experience design, since many aspects of the user experience are subjective and designers cannot directly influence these subjective aspects. Everyone is different and therefore has their own user experience. Indirectly influencing these individual customer experiences through the design of digital interfaces and services is what makes user experience design so attractive.

UX design goes far beyond the usability and interaction design of a product or service

As Donald Norman asked Apple to do in the early 1990s, a user experience designer designs and designs interactive systems with a holistic view of the user and thus creates the conditions for the most positive customer experience possible. This obviously coincides with the needs of many designers, because the job title of UX designer is enjoying growing popularity.

UX design is a profession in motion because customer life cycles always move with the times. Those who like to work in interdisciplinary teams, want to combine their psychological interests with their own creative impulses and like to surround themselves with people who think in terms of products and business models, are well served by the UX Designer job description. If you also have a future-oriented spirit of research, the career choice is spot on.

 

The author

Matthias Müller-Prove is an Interaction Designer and “Human Computer Interactivist.” At mprove.de you will find an overview of his publications, articles and presentations.

 

All other PAGE-Connect articles on the subject of UX design can be found here.

To download the PAGE Connect eDossier "This is what a UX designer does at Aperto - An IBM Company", click here.

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