When talking about user experience (UX), I could literally write a stack of books trying to explain every facet, and still have things left to talk about. For that reason, UX is one of those terms that has become a buzzword to seemingly cover all the answers to the question “why?” when it comes to designing software or digital platforms.
So, what exactly is UX? Short answer – It’s a blanket term used to explain a large amount of different design techniques that can affect the user in different ways, creating the amalgam of the overall experience. Every decision you make about your product, like UI design, platform choice, development, information within the product, purpose of the product, and a never ending list of things, can help create either a good user experience or a bad user experience. Here’s an example of just some of those factors that we focus on here at MotionMobs:
What do you do with these factors, how do you figure out which ones to focus on, and how do you approach them? It all depends on the product you’re creating. For example, MotionMobs had the wonderful opportunity of working with nonprofit organization Autism Avenue on their app called Talk. With this app, the first thing we looked at was the target and the goal of the app. Who was going to be using this app and what were they trying to accomplish by having the app? The app was targeting children/youth with autism and it was meant to be used as an accessibility application that would allow young people with autism and similar communication disabilities to communicate with a soundboard.
With even that seemingly small amount of information we were able to make some very important decisions on where our process should start: sound, interaction, and interface design. All of the other factors were not out of our minds by any means, but by looking at the main functionality of the planned app we were able to create a hierarchy to rank them by importance.
As mentioned above, UX is a blanket term for the techniques used to create a product, and by repeating the steps above to determine a hierarchy of important factors, you’ll be able to choose the right techniques to fit your project. Take a look at the graphic below and you can see some of the different techniques and how much or how little they may affect one another.
By taking all of the techniques (or disciplines) of UX into consideration, it will help you create an overall better experience for the end user. It will allow you to see how decisions will affect each other so that you can have a good balance while still giving priority to certain factors that will make your product special.
One of the top priorities before starting any project is planning and research. Have clear, obtainable goals and be well versed in your product’s market and target audience. All of the other factors will fall into place a lot sooner and more easily if you do.
Checks and balances
Another thing that can affect the process of creating a good UX is being able to check your work. How do you know if you’re doing the right thing? Luckily there is a simple graphic called the UX Honeycomb that you can use to check all of your decisions to make sure you’re making the right one. Ask yourself if the words in the honeycomb are accurate for describing your decisions. If you keep each of these things in mind for every decision that you make, no matter how big or small, you’re on the right track.
User experience isn’t a simple thing to explain or implement, and no matter how well your product turns out, your job is never done. That’s the overarching poetry to UX design. As people and industries change, your work and your product should as well. What may be great today, may be horrible tomorrow. As a company, an entrepreneur, a designer, or a developer, you should always keep that in mind and be excited for it. Not only will it help your product continue to grow and impress, but it will help your skills in the subject grow and impress as well.
For more on the history and fundamentals of UX, click here!