User Experience Design – What is it?

So, I don’t know if you noticed but this has been one of those things, those..trends that you see pop up every now and then. It’s called User Experience or UX for short and it’s about this idea. This idea that we’re not just designing pretty things or developing efficient things, we’re designing and developing experiences for our users. These, experiences, are what shapes the user’s opinion of our product, our business, us as individuals and ultimately what makes them decide whether or not to stick with our products in the future.

User Experience Design is about more than just UI Design or even Development of the product; it encompasses all aspects of your product. For example, let’s take something simple like Coke. Coke is a short name for Coca Cola, the drink. It’s everywhere you look, in stores, cinemas, fast-food establishments, banners and bus stops. The name Coke is short and to the point. They’ve used bright red and white text to attract our attention to it. It rolls off the tongue when you ask for it.

Recently I asked a friend why they always say they want coke with their meal when we eat out and the response was “It’s not that I want coke, it’s just the first thing that comes to mind.” and then I realized that that’s it! Through their branding and advertising, they’ve developed a product that just sits in the back of your mind and pops up when you need to make that decision between Pepsi or Coke. It’s even in Christmas ads and movies. “What do you want with your pizza? Coke.”

User Experience Design can be as subtle as deciding between a 5.5″ screen or a 5.6″ screen when you’re making a phone. It could be deciding whether your website has a share button for every post or just the featured posts. It could even be deciding between ‘#FFFFFF’ or ‘#FEFEFE’ as colors for your website’s background. These decisions make monumental differences to the subconscious appeal of your product from a user’s point of view. They don’t even realize it’s happening most of the time but it is and we need to be aware of that so that we can take advantage of it to make their experience with our products better.

Now, obviously there is no ‘perfect’ experience because we all, as individuals, have our own likes and dislikes and naturally someone is going to love that good old comic sans on a magenta background while the rest of us cringe. However, there are best practices for improving your user experience, for improving your products usability and in turn attracting users. This is what I studied in University when I took a course in Creative Technologies and evidently my final year project (where I improved the usability of three sites simultaneously) was a success and was good enough to get me first class honors in my course.

This was really just a post to tell you something about User Experience Design and what it is, why you need it and why it really deserves to be a focus when you’re developing something whether it’s old or new. Later on, in other posts I intend on showing you some methods for improving your products usability and possibly some statistics to show how changes to your product can affect their usage from a user’s point of view.

I hope you found this post interesting and informative and that you look forward to my future posts where I discuss this topic in greater detail.

Regards,

Finley

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