A guide into understanding a User Experience Designer
For those who are still doubting whether to hire a UX Designer, UX/UI Designer, UI Designer, Graphic Designer etc.
I still think this an ongoing topic and not yet very clear. It has a lot of uncertainty among businesses and not yet a clear understanding.
Often times I hear people complains: “He/She had an amazing portfolio, very impressive, but it’s not actually what we’re looking for.” Immediately after I heard this, a job position (which I read somewhere) pops up : UX/UI Frontend Designer/ Developer !!!
That is just too much. I guess that the short cut of the term (UX) user experience designer or user interaction designer (UI) should not be used any more. Just to remind people the full word and literally give a hint of what does it do.
I’m just going to point out the main areas of a User Experience Designer’s expertise. And if you don’t know why you hired one, this is it.
Experience Design is made from dynamic moving parts.
First, whatever we’re designing we have to make sure that the information is in it and is stored in a way that people can find it. We call that Information Architecture.
Next, we make sure that all the words that appear on the screen actually communicate the messages we want them to communicate in a meaningful way. We call that Copy Writing.
Design Process Management
This has to go to incremental improvements so we have to have a process that lets us do that. We have to understand how are we actually going to iterate and learn from each iteration. Integrate that in the design and do it again. We call that Design Process Management.
That is very much related to the User research. Which lets us know upfront of who the users are, what do they want to do and the fact that how we’re designing integrates that process together.
From there, we try to piece together the flow, the movement and then the transitions. We call that Interaction Design.
Now, a lot of systems we build have a large amount of information. We have to figure out how to visually represent that information in a way that people can understand what’s going on and see the important things in front and shadowed the less important ones. We call that Information Design. It is the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it.
Information Design shouldn’t be confused with Visual Design which a lot of people think it’s about aesthetic but it’s not. Is in fact all about prioritization of communication. It’s about making sure that the most important stuff drops on the screen when the user needs it.
Edit & Curate
And finally we have to understand that what makes the design a great design is all the things that we have to leave out of design. We say no to a lot of things and that is what the Editing and Curating is all about. In the feature world we might include everything but in the experience world we say no to a lot of things. That’s what the role of editing and curating is.
So these are the skills that your future team needs in order to produce great user experience design.
But that is not enough. Over the years we have learned that it doesn’t stop here. More successful teams have more than just what’s written above. For example, we have to know how to go into the field and actually meet with the customers and users and find out important insight of the context of what’s going on.
We have to understand about the domain that we’re working. If we’re in medicine business and produce products of healthcare, we have to understand how, and have all the necessary skills and dedicated attention to any business field. At the same time we have to understand how the business makes money in order to support the product and services that they’re producing. And we also have to deal with the fact that all these tools produce a ton of information. All of this data is coming in all the time from the customers and we have to take that data to find out useful insights.
Check the Analytics to keep track of the design process and it’s influence to the actual user. At the same time we have to be able to communicate to the users and the customers the value of the things that we’re building and implementing. So we have to know how to market what we’re doing. But don’t forget the technology underneath which is constantly changing so we have to keep up of what is possible and what is not possible. And that means we have to turn back at the stakeholders and say “look this is going to take you some money but here it is what you’re going to get from it” so we have to talk about ROI.
This is what you need as necessary in order to deliver a great design… and this is not over yet.
We have to know Storytelling. Build a story and explain it to users, other coworkers or managers. We have to know how to take and give criticism in order to move the design forward.
We have to get the idea out with Sketching. We have to be able stand in front of our peers, users, stakeholders and communicate the idea in an interesting way. So we have to be able to Present. We have to know how to use people time effectively to facilitate the workshop. And the funny part is that these soft skills are as much important as the hard skills.
In order to put together an experience design team you need all of these skills. And this is only if you’re going to produce great industry changing design.
So isn’t all this enough for a User Experience Designer? Are you sure you really want to add words such as Frontend, Developer or Graphic, in front of it? Decided to end my thoughts with an open question so please feel free to share your thoughts.