Ever thought of this word User Experience Design being used by many designers and companies. So let’s start from the basics of User Experience and take a look at its meaning & implementations. Then we will look at terms like Human-Computer Interaction and User-Centered Design.
User Experience (UX)
User Experience as the name suggests is related to a user’s emotion or experience. It is based on how a user feels with the anticipated use of a product or interface, which can be a website, web application, software, or physical products containing the aspects of some form of human-computer interaction (HCI).
User Experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users’ perceptions and responses concerning the product or project of that business. How the user interacts with the product, how much they find it useful or use it efficiently. User Experience constantly changes over time based on usage.
According to Don Norman, In his popular book “The design of everyday things”, The two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding.
- ‘Discoverability‘ is the possibility to figure out what actions are possible and where and how to perform them.
- ‘Understanding‘ is trying to figure out how the product is supposed to be used and how well they can understand it, or what different controls or settings mean.
Now that we have touched on the topic of Human-Computer Interaction, let me give you a quick explanation of what human-computer interaction or HCI is and how it is related to user experience design.
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a design field that focuses on computer technology and the interfaces between humans and computers. Researchers observe how people interact with computers to design products & services, which will help users to use these technologies more efficiently and make interactions more human. It gives companies the knowledge needed to build products that work seamlessly.
HCI first started in the 1980s, when sophisticated computers were available to general users and stopped being room-sized electronics only available to experts. As computers were available to users, who had less knowledge in using this kind of technology, it was important to know the interaction between humans and this technology. So that it is easy and efficient to use and is also cost-effective.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a predecessor of user experience design. HCI seeks to improve the interaction and usability of computer interfaces. HCI expands to multiple disciplines such as computer science, cognitive science, and human-factors engineering. The study of HCI was first limited to desktop computers only, but with the times changing and the rise in technologies like the internet, websites, smartphone, etc, researchers had to expand their study to these technologies as well.
Even though there are many direct links between HCI & UX Design, there are still differences too. Researchers of HCI are more involved in scientific research and much involved in documenting patterns and behavior of users through experimentation. Whereas, user experience designers are more involved in building products or services for the industry. To achieve the best user experience, it is important to access the wide range of topics that HCI covers.
User Experience Design
We don’t live in a perfect world nor we have unlimited resources. We need to prioritize and identify areas to create a product with the best user experience using limited resources. A User Experience Design (UXD) is a process where a design team creates and updates a product by constantly working on providing better experiences to the user, based on various techniques & feedbacks.
The designs need to be –
- Useful as in how it allows a user to complete a task.
- Usable as in how the user completes that task in an effective, efficient, and satisfying manner. There are more factors which we will discuss later.
UX design considers a user’s feeling while using a product and how easy it is to accomplish the desired task. For e.g. Checkout process while buying a product online. The goal is to create easy, efficient, and pleasurable experiences for the user.
A UX designer is concerned with the entire process of developing a product and providing users with the best user experience including aspects of acquiring, pleasure, fun, and efficiency. The designer tries to incorporate a good user experience that meets a particular user’s needs while using that product and eliminate bad user experience as much as possible. We will look into the good and bad user experience in more detail later.
UX designers also combine various research documentations like market research, competitor analysis, etc, and strategy to create seamless user experiences for products & services. They help a company to better understand and fulfill the user’s needs.
User experience design is a vast & multidisciplinary topic and we will dive deep into it in upcoming articles, how it shapes different products or make a brand a success.
User-Centered Design (UCD) is a collection of the iterative design process in which designers & businesses focus on the users and their needs. Users are involved in the entire design process, which helps in creating a better user experience for the product. It helps understand users’ needs regarding different tasks & goals of the product. No other opinions are involved other than that of the user. It touches on the most important requirement of User Experience, that of being user-centered.
The team takes empathetic elements like users’ thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and desires and turns them into systematic building blocks, as in user-centered design is a way to add emotional impact to your products. They try to understand the wants and needs of the users. The team is expert in understanding the working and using technology but users are not so expert with no focus on how the technology works. They just want technology to help them in their lives. User-Centered design lets you translate the wants and needs of end-users into specifications for building technological solutions.
So what are the benefits of user-centered design?
- It helps in saving lots of money, time, and frustration later in the development process.
- You get early user feedback to resolve your customer’s pain points.
- Because of early testing and research, there is less rework and better team communication.
- This also allows your product to reach the market sooner, adding to business benefits.
So now that you have a basic idea of what user experience design is, let’s move forward to know different roles played by the team members to create a better user experience for their product. This will help you understand the different types of roles and will also help you in choosing the right career path.