When I tell people that I am a user experience designer, I regularly get a blank stare 🤔— I quickly reply with ‘I make your time on websites less stressful and more enjoyable’ (It’s really not selling myself very well though).
The term ‘user experience’ or UX seems like a buzzword in today’s working life however, it has been around for decades — formerly known as service design. Many companies are confused about what it actually is and how significant it is to their success.
Below I have listed some of the biggest misconceptions of what user experience designers do and expose some of the myths which cause confusion.
User experience design is NOT…
…User interface design
It’s not unusual to confuse ‘user experience’ with ‘user interface’ and more recently jobs titles are shifting to UI/UX design—subsequently the interface is a large part of what users interact with while experiencing digital products and services. But the UI is just one component of user experience.
“The design is holistic and it should be everyone's interest, not just the realm of ‘creative’ people.”
…a step in the process
It is the process! In order to create and maintain a great user experience, we have to keep listening, learning and iterating. The process doesn’t have to be strict but it needs to be integrated into everything you do in order to evolve your product or service.
…just about usability
Making products easy and intuitive is not the only goal of a UX designer. In order to make people adapt their behaviours and form a habit, we need to create things they want to use and not just what the business think they want to use.
Not everything has to be created ‘idiot proof’ if it can be easily learned but the product or service has to be appealing and ultimately valuable.
…just about the user
The whole project doesn’t have to be designed around the word ‘user,’ every project has a set of business objectives that need to be met as well. We have to work with a happy medium that meets both the business goals and user needs to formulate the overall experience.
…a single discipline
Several people specialise in different segments of the process. Some UX practitioners focus on a particular technique such as information architecture, interaction designer, usability testing, design analyst but they all fall under the concept of user experience.
Every business has to take into consideration the available resource, capability, timescales and budget when scoping a project. UX design has a reputation of being costly and time-consuming but this doesn’t have to be the case— there are so many free tools online and quick solutions to help introduce UXD methods. The best designers will pick an choose methods for each project that will provide the best results within the constraints set.
…the role of one person or department
User experience isn’t just the responsibility of a single team or person, it should be practised across all teams within a business. UX designers can help create the most effective process within a business but ultimately it’s up to every team to get on board and make it a success.
“Each team needs to have a common goal or experience they should deliver as a collective”
User experience is still very new and some people would argue it may not even be a community just yet, however, over the years it has progressed and continues to do so. Businesses are realising we have reached a mature level in technology and functionality just isn’t enough—people don’t settle for website mishaps anymore.
User experience focuses on how we engage with people and the value we provide to them. It’s this that will help a business stand out from its competitors.