UX is one of the most important aspects of any software development project but is often looked as the least. Visual designs steal the show and it’s quite reasonable why. After all, it is the actual face of the brand that directly influences how customer or clients think of your company and its products. However, visual design cannot be created without a full proof plan and here’s where UX comes in the story.

UX design and its basics

UX is mainly about the two things- one the user and second the experience. It’s all about giving your users a positive experience like never before and they will soon reward you with their trust and business. Many studies revealed that companies with high-end UX designs have increased their revenue by 37%, isn’t that great! 90% of the users reported that they have stopped using an app due to its poor performance while 86% deleted or uninstalled an app in case if they encountered problems with functionality or design. And this is the reason why you need a ton of research and planning to figure out what you need, where things should go and what should it say, etc.

Are you a User Experience Designer? No really though, are you? I mean in the flood of ill-trained people claiming to be User experience experts, how can you separate yourself from those wannabes? Well with new professions comes new pitfalls, and UX designer is such a role that is often misinterpreted in the tech industry. The following post offers a set of skills that effectively bifurcates a true expert from a UX snake oil salesman.

Either You Become A Real UX Designer Or Remain A Wannabe

#1 Right Background

A good UX designer is supposed to study in many disciplines. However, even all those wannabes do come from a graphic design/development background but they can’t be like one due to the lack of proper training.

What is meant by right training? One must understand the fact that UX isn’t just about pretty graphics or button placements. It is more about understanding the cognitive perspectives of the intended users.

Any UX expert is supposed to have some cognitive psychology in their background. One with such background is considered as a real plus.

#2 Know the user

A true expert demands to conduct real user research prior to creating any designs. Although user research takes many forms but in actual sense, it is all about getting out of the office and meeting people in personal. Besides, I have come across many amateurs who misinterprets usability testing with user research. Well, these two terms aren’t the same. User testing is more about getting user reaction to a design.

For example, if your UX design company wants you to start with usability testing then you must understand that user research is proactive process while usability testing is a reactive process.

#3 “My process is My Own”

If you say something like this, soon you will hear the buzzer slamming the wrong answer. A professional is always defined by their process; a structure within which you as well as other professionals can operate in.

Other than having a clear process, there are few more things worth considering such as information architecture, content development and wireframing, testing, iteration and the many levels thereafter. Without a proper procedure, you are just an idealist.

#4 Automating current frustrations

Task analysis is the first key component to any successful design effort. After that, the next step is all about refining and optimizing those tasks. In any task optimization, it is the prime duty of a designer to avoid automating current frustrations.

Let’s take an example of a common e-commerce store that offers typical shipping orders with a simple shipping selection UI to present the choices and mentions the typical duration of each choice like:

  • Ground: 6-10 business days
  • Air: 2-3 business days
  • Overnight: 1 day

Honestly speaking, these UIs suck! Offering a more optimized solution avoids relying on the users to calculate which shipping choice best serves their needs.

#5 User-Driven design

Many so-called designers are quite familiar with personas and often end up creating useless ones but a real UX designer can actually describe how specific kind of user characteristics have influenced their designs. Which means he must be capable enough to explain how their designs leveraged expected user knowledge and provided required knowledge users were not expected to have.

Most of the experienced professionals describe personas in terms of cognitive and behavior specifics such as motivations, desired outcomes, and knowledge base, all which basically influence designs. Apart from this, they avoid using in context with marketing demographics, such as marital status, income, and employment status, which provide no information to aid in the design process.

#6 “I am a creative person, not a technical one.”

If you don’t count yourself as a technical person then there is no point in calling yourself a user experience designer. No matter how creative you try to be, it’s all about how your work translates to a live site and its optimization, these are all technical and operative skills.

Being an expert, it’s your job to keep up with the technical requirements involved in implementing and enhancing upon your “informed opinion”. A job which is driven on the basis of assumption and nice ideas is not what UX is all about.

#7 Delighting users

The main objective of any User experience design & development is to delight the end users. Besides, a professional knows more about his domain than any of his users. Thus, he must be well-versed regarding how to impart that knowledge to help the users succeed beyond their own level of competence.

Rounding off

As it is said, “A Rising Tide Can Lift An Entire Bunch Of Ships”. This was a small attempt to improve the UX design & development community. Keep watching the space to know more.