What Is User Experience (UX) Design? What You Need To Know
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated July 21, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020
Updated July 21, 2022
Published February 25, 2020
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A user experience (UX) designer helps companies ensure their products provide a complete and enjoyable user experience. They consider factors such as ease of use, practicality and enjoyment when optimizing a user’s interaction with a product. Learning more about these principles can help you satisfy customers and differentiate products from competitors.
In this article, we explain what UX design is, discuss its benefits and key principles and share tips for pursuing a career in this field.
What is UX design?
UX is the practice of optimizing how a consumer interacts with a product. While UX can refer to a company’s physical products, the term is most popular among professionals who work on digital products like apps and websites.
UX encompasses many dimensions of an interactive experience like visual elements, interactive features and functional design. The goal of UX design is to make sure the experience of using a product is a positive and rewarding one. Since it's a process that can be applied to such a wide range of products, there isn't one unified process that defines UX design. It largely depends not only on the nature of your product but also on our target audience’s preferences.
Why is UX design important?
UX design is important because it considers the full context and experience of the customer rather than just convincing them to buy a product. This helps you design something with a greater chance of long-term success since it improves brand loyalty, reputation and trust.
In addition to building a base of loyal and happy customers, effective UX design also helps you save money long term. It will help you catch a lot of bugs in the design before you launch when they are much easier and cheaper to fix. You will also gain deeper insight into how well it will fit into your customers' daily lives, which will give you a better understanding of how to market the product more effectively to reach your desired audience.
Related: All About Becoming a UX Researcher
Key UX design principles
Here are some general principles that tend to stay consistent across UX designers in all industries:
Understand your users' needs
Before developing a product, good UX design requires an exploratory phase in which you learn about the users you want to reach. Find out what they need, what they want and how they feel about similar products on the market. If you already have the product on the market and are trying to improve the user's experience, start with a similar phase of learning about your users. In this situation, however, you'll ideally have more specific questions about their current experience with your product.
Related: Top 10 Skills for UX Designers
Focus on user-centered design
When developing or modifying any product, the user-centered approach places the needs of the user first. This requires a more detailed and individualized analysis of your customers than general consumer trends and large-scale market analysis. Instead, the goal is to learn as much about your customers as possible, both to understand why they might buy your product and where it fits in their lives. Overall, it's a more detailed and comprehensive way of thinking about your product as a complete experience rather than just a product.
Keep your UX design continuous
UX design happens before, during and after the actual development of a product. It also happens before, during and after the customer uses the product.This means companies should continuously study and engage with their audience to learn more about what kind of products they would want. It also involves showing customers who have already bought their product that they care about the user's experience. A good UX design process should build in constant feedback and a willingness to modify and improve users' experiences based on the kind of feedback you get.
Consider information architecture
Information architecture refers to the organization of a company’s content. By considering what information a user might want to access and making it easy to find, you improve their overall experience with a product. For instance, you might create an easy-to-use website navigation menu or provide clear instructions in a product’s packaging.
Related: What Does a UX Designer Do?
UX designers often have an archetypical user in mind when they’re optimizing a product’s design. While this generalization can help streamline the process, it’s important for the designer to consider how all potential users would interact with the product. Different abilities and preferences among users lead to the need for accessibility features. For instance, a website might support compatibility with a screen reader to ensure more people can access its content.
Related: Learn About Being a UX Designer
How to learn UX design
There are many options for learning UX design depending on what your learning goals are. Here are some steps you can take to learn UX design:
1. Read more about UX design
Before you can decide if it's something you are passionate about, do some additional research about UX design, specifically in the industry you're most interested in working in. This will give you a better sense of what your day-to-day job might look like. There are a lot of resources available online to help you start learning some of the fundamentals of UX design on your own. From there, you can either continue your education more formally or start applying what you've learned to some volunteer or personal projects.
2. Continue your education
UX design is part of many tech-related degree programs. You can choose from a variety of programs, such as computer science, software development and information technology. A four-year degree is usually required for higher-level positions related to UX design, so if you want to specialize in this area and advance, continuing your education would be an important step toward that goal.
3. Build a portfolio of personal and volunteer work
You can look for volunteer UX projects or develop your own so you can start building a portfolio to show potential employers. If you're a newcomer to the field, this portfolio will help showcase what you can do and make your application stand out from other candidates.
If you need more experience before getting your first full-time job, you can expand your search to include some freelance jobs and individual projects that will pay you and allow you to gain some professional experience. After you finish a few freelance projects, you can count them as experience and add them to your portfolio.
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