When I first began my journey as a web designer I had never heard of UX.
To be fair, I was pretty secluded from all things tech careers. For the good part of my 20’s I spent the majority of my free time recording music with my band.
I knew tons about audio interfaces, DAWs, microphones. BUT, I knew very little about the web.
Fun fact, making designs for my band’s album art was the reason why I started learning graphic design #noonecareschris
Suffice it to say, it was a bit of culture shock when I stepped into all things web development. There was so much to learn and take in!
A lot of you might feel like I did when I first got started. Just completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things there are to learn.
Or even what you should focus on.
I was talking to someone yesterday that was overwhelmed by the number of different paths he could take. And, he worried that if he picked the wrong one it wouldn’t be as fulfilling.
So, let’s all take a deep breath and clear some confusion surrounding what a UX designer is and what they do.
Ready? Breath in AND…..out
- It’s All About the User
The UX in UX designer stands for User Experience. Like its name suggest, the job of a UX designer is to provide the best possible experience for someone using the product.
It could really be for anything BUT most of the time it has to do with applications used on computers both for the web and as stand-alone applications.
Ever swiped something on an app and it just did what you thought it would? That’s UX.
It might seem like nothing to you but a lot of time and effort went into making sure that you just intuitively knew what to do.
Good UX has done its job when you didn’t have to think about it. So, UX designers do everything they can to make sure you’re able to use a product without having to look at an instruction book.
- It’s Not About Being Pretty
A lot of time when people are just getting started they confuse UX design with Graphic Design or even Visual Design.
Graphic Design is more like art. It’s meant to strike a response in the onlookers. If you think it looks pretty, inspires you or just makes an impression then it’s more or less done its job.
On the other hand, UX design might be completely justified in making something that’s not as visually appealing because at the end of the day that’s not what it’s about.
It all comes back to giving the best experience to the person using the application.
If you’ve got a bad looking design, but you can show how you were justified in making it look the way it does then it’s still a great UX design.
- It’s All About Data
A UX designer is something like the cross between an analyst and a designer.
We use tons of data to come to the design decisions we make. We use things like user testing or card sorting or user flows to help us make decisions.
Don’t know what those words mean? Don’t worry I’ll cover it later.
Sometimes, as a UX designer, I do much more looking at numbers and observing micro-interactions than I do at actually designing something.
And, I personally love it.
I love trying to come up with solutions for something that’s pretty complex.
For instance, consider the company I work for, Showit.
Our app is a huge system with a lot of different things that all work together to do what it does.
Sometimes making a small change isn’t as simple as you’d think because certain things are dependent upon others.
So, you have to balance whether or not a change is really worth it OR if there’s something else you can do to achieve the same outcome.
- It’s All About Psychology
At the end of the day, a UX designer is trying to get inside the head of the people using their product.
The closer we get to reading your mind the more accomplished we feel. It’s not weird. Trust me.
For instance, there’s something called a User Persona.
It’s literally giving the user a personality and a name. We identify their wants, their needs, their stage of life.
You can’t design for everyone. People are all at different stages of life. So, you have to identify who it is that would be the perfect person to use your product.
Once you’ve done that you start to build with them in mind.
But, it’s all about trying to think as they think.
If you are someone that’s really good at being empathetic or loves understanding why people make the decisions they do then this is the perfect job for you.
A lot of this probably sounds a lot different than what you thought it would. But, having a UX design career has been one of the best things I’ve done.
It challenges me in so many ways and stretches me not only creatively but also practically.
If you find yourself straddling the fence between being creative and analytical THEN this is probably the perfect career for you.
So, ready to give it a shot?
Maybe you are a UX designer. What’s your experience been? What do you like about it? What do you wish you could do without?
I’d love to hear from you.