UX design is difficult, its more than just design. A well-designed product must be aesthetically pleasing, yet simple. It should be easy to understand and easy to navigate. Creating a great product is a challenge that requires technical skills. It requires an understanding of computers and human/computer interaction. It also requires visual perception, creativity and perhaps most importantly, an understanding of people. So, what skills are required (aside from design skills) to guarantee great UX?
An Understanding of User Research
UX is about understanding behaviours. The behaviours that users express, so we can approach them to build a better experience. You can’t effectively design for users unless you understand them. To understand the behaviours of users, it’s important for UX designers to take part in user research. Designers can undertake two different types of user research:
Formative research is collected before the product is built. The intention here is to understand the users’ apparent needs and behaviours. This understanding of user needs is what contributes to product definition and the product design.
Once the initial design has been made, summative research can be gathered. This phase gathers feedback from users to see how well they interact with it. The feedback then allows the design team to go back and make changes to the design.
Example of a ‘Miniflow’ showing the steps users take within an app
The power of research is sometimes underestimated. It isn’t the case that attractive design solely relates to good UX. Sleek designs are sometimes directly related to bringing a better user experience. However, designs are typically much more effective after research has been conducted. After all, if you don’t understand the frustrations of the user, then how can the problem be fixed?
The Ability to Empathise with the User
In UX it’s important to care about the way users interact with the products from the user’s point of view. Bridging the gap between users and the technology often helps towards not only improving the quality of the products but also how the users feel about them. Being able to understand users from a sympathetic point, with their best interests at heart can massively improve the way you do UX.
Understanding Behaviours and Motivations
For products to do well and survive, it’s important to understand why people love what they love and do what they do. For example, if you are designing a screen with a button that allows users to proceed to the next page, you would expect them to press it. However, after you have undertaken your summative research you may find that a large percentage of the users are not pressing the button and proceeding. As a UX designer, it’s your role to work out why this is. Why didn’t they press the button? Was it hard for them to find? Were they bored by the screen? Do I need to move the button to a different location? As UX designers, every time we answer these questions, we learn more about how the user thinks and behaves. So, we can improve our products.
Patience and Iteration
As user experience requires a lot of trial and error, it’s imperative that UX designers are comfortable with iteration. In UX, a design will often have to be tackled repeatedly. This is the case as unfortunately, not everyone can be pleased. There will never be the perfect solution for everyone. Even when there is a solution that is close to perfect, later down the line users may well want changes enforced into existing products. Sometimes it may even be the case that you will have to scrap a seemingly perfect solution, to start all over again! With UX, there are so many things to accomplish, it’s a never-ending circle!