What UX is NOT.
The user experience (UX) field isn’t new. It’s been lurking in the shadows creating a pathway for the experiences that have shaped our society for decades. But as a new technological revolution swelled in the 1990’s UX stepped into the spotlight. It became integral in creating dynamic design and fostering innovation.
As the landscape becomes increasingly competitive, UX can make a big difference in creating digital products, services and sites that are rewarding. And in doing so, a company can increase conversion and cultivate brand loyalty amongst users.
There’s just one problem.
No one really knows what UX is other than those who UX. But, for businesses and job seekers alike, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what falls under the blanket of UX and distinctly recognize what does not.
The International Organization for Standardization defines user experience as a “person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use and or anticipated use of a product, system or service.” Essentially, the user experience is how a user feels while thinking about or interacting with a product or service, and those who plan and create for those experiences are UX designers. But simply “Seeking Talented UX Designers” may not appropriately communicate a company’s distinct needs or attract a candidate qualified to adequately fill the roll.
In order to understand the role of a UX designer, it may be helpful to discuss what UX isn’t.
UX is not going with your gut.
If a product or service is the house, then research is its foundation. UX designers don’t simply guess what users need, want and feel. They infer their needs and motivators based on thoughtful user research and data collection. By taking that information and creating personas, UX designers can build scenarios to better determine how a product or service fits into the lives of its users and seek to improve this interaction. Going with your gut would mean ignoring those whose needs matter the most in determining the success of a company’s product, service or overall customer satisfaction.
UX is not Web Development.
Web development requires the implementation of coding to create page layouts, styling and features for websites and applications. Front-end web developers build out the technical elements to make a website or application run smoothly and bug free. But don’t be fooled by UX/UI on their résumé. Web developers may work with UX designers, but they themselves are not. Without a good UX team behind them, web developers are simply putting up the walls of a home without permits, risking the structural integrity and putting all of the builder’s money, and their hard work, at risk.
UX is not making things look pretty.
Do UX designers want things to look visually appealing? Of course. But what is visually stunning design if it’s not usable? Rather than simply aim for aesthetics, UX designers use a series of processes rooted in research to begin the design process. They define the information architecture (IA), making the navigation of a site, product or application easily mappable. Users should know at all times where they are and how to get where they need to go, whether they are avid visitors or first-time users, and the information they seek should be easily accessible. Once the structure is in place, UX designers create wireframes to begin building out the design. Similar to blueprints, they outline each screen or step that a user will take during their interaction with a product, and act as placeholders for the intended design. Building off of their wireframes, a UX team will then create a prototype that can be used for product testing. Although the design has been based off user research, there can still be unforeseen issues that arise.
All of the above is integral in creating a functional design, that also looks pretty.
UX is not IT.
Information Technology (IT) is anything related to the technology of computing and distributing data, which includes the development, use and maintenance of networks, systems and software. An organization’s IT infrastructure needs to be built and maintained to keep data safe and systems properly functioning, but back-end development isn’t rooted in UX or IA. Beware of those applying for UX positions whose primary experience is IT.
UX designers may be capable of UI Design, but not all UI designers practice UX design.
The UX team will coordinate with UI designers to create a collaborative design, but this is not simply done by UI designers alone. Many times, lumped in with graphic designers, UI designers are responsible for taking all of the information gathered, interpreted and executed by the UX team and translating it into beautiful design that creates a positive experience for users.
By distinguishing between the different facets of UX, it’s clear that beautiful and impactful design is a process that cannot be accomplished by simply bulking a staff with developers and designers. Rather if you’re looking to hire a UX team or fill an empty role, be clear about the specific needs your company and team have and be sure to understand their distinct differences. By thoughtfully crafting job descriptions that accurately map to the desired processes and results a potential team member must possess, you make finding those assets a much easier process.
And for those looking for a UX job, recognize what you bring to the table and be clear in your experience when applying for a position. Using UX terminology and suggesting expertise in areas outside of your previous scope can waste your time and turn off a potential employer who may need the specific skills you possess to fill another role.
About UX Hires
UX Hires (www.uxhires.com) helps you build your dream UX team or find you the perfect UX job. We are experts in User Experience recruitment and understand brands and agencies alike. Thanks to our affiliation with Motivate Design (www.motivatedesign.com), a leading User Experience research and design agency, UX Hires has an unparalleled understanding of the UX Design, UX Research, and Visual/UI Design space and reach within the community.