The World of UX Design
Think about your favourite smartphone app and how you use it. Whether subconsciously or not, it’s likely that User Experience plays a key role in your decision to continually use it. But what exactly is User Experience? It's a term many of us have heard of before, but how does it create value for businesses, and what are some of the challenges facing designers and businesses?
Join us and experience the world of User Experience design.
What is UX?
While there is no commonly accepted definition, User Experience (or ‘UX’) essentially refers to the impressions and feelings experienced by users while interacting with a product or system. For example, it would refer to a user’s sense of satisfaction from using a website, application or software.
UX is an inherently broad concept. While the user interface and the usability of a system are fundamental parts of UX, UX in itself encompasses the seamless blending of a range of disciplines including visual design, information architecture and human-computer interaction.
What are the fundamentals of UX design
By definition, UX design is the process of determining what the User Experience should be. Peter Morville, a pioneer of User Experience proposes that UX should be predicated upon seven key factors:
Content should fulfil a purpose, even if it is merely aesthetic appeal
Users should be able to achieve their end objective efficiently and effectively
Products and contents should be easy to find and organised
Users must be able to trust the product or content being provided
Design elements such as image, branding and emotional design elicit appreciation and emotion from users.
Design should cater for a myriad of users - including those with disabilities
The product should provide value to not just the user, but also the business.
An integral aspect of UX design is therefore researching and considering users’ perceptions about a system, including its usability, value, and utility. This enables designers to gain a thorough understanding of the users of the system and to base their design around these seven factors.
What value does UX design bring to businesses?
In the business context, the ultimate goal of UX design is to create value by improving customer satisfaction and engagement, thereby increasing customer loyalty. While UX might sound like a purely superficial exercise, it undoubtedly has significant implications towards the value of a company's products and services.
Today, many companies rely on their online presence to various degrees. Regardless of whether they are an online reseller or a multinational accounting firm, UX should not be trivialised. 70% of consumers learn about a company not through ads but through their website. Further, 52% of users state that a bad mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with a company. In fact, each year in the UK, slow-loading websites cost retailers £1.73 billion in lost sales.
UX has also demonstrated the potential to create significant value. For example, when ESPN implemented community suggestions into the redesign of their homepage, their revenues increased by 35%. It is perhaps unsurprising that in a survey, nearly three quarters of companies not yet conducting UX testing were set to do so in the next 12 months.
What are some of the challenges of UX design?
There are number of factors that make UX design challenging for designers and businesses.
Firstly, UX is inherently subjective. Each user will have different technological capabilities and needs, and a key challenge for designers is to find a balance that accommodates each different user group.
There are also technical limitations to UX design. An ill-executed design that compromises the reliability of a system, no matter its brilliance in theory, could potentially do more harm than good for the business. It’s a risk many businesses would not be willing to take.
Cost is another prohibitive factor for businesses. UX design today must cater for both mobile and desktop platforms, and small businesses in particular may lack the skills and resources to conceive a user-friendly design and implement it.
Furthermore, in today's world where the needs of users are constantly changing, UX design must be fluid and flexible in order to adapt and keep up with this pace of change. This dynamic environment will inevitably require ongoing costs of upkeep and development.
With technology becoming increasingly pervasive in our lives, both personal and professional, the need for well-designed UX will become ever more important in the years to come. This idea is supported by the fact that customer experience is set to overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator by 2020.
The growing recognition of the relevance and importance of UX design to the success of a business will hopefully lead more companies to incorporate what is an often underappreciated and overlooked aspect of value creation into their products and services.