Whenever a consumer feel the need to execute a certain task he/she need tools which enable us to get the job done. In the digital space the digital products represent the tools that simplifies work. For every product in a particular category the core functionality remains the same. But its the brilliant design, layout, user flow and user interaction with the product that makes it stand out. This is where UX Designing comes into picture. In even simpler terms, UX Designing is the process by which a UX Designer enhances the experience of using a product by the consumer by making it a pain free and enjoyable experience.
Origin of UX
Cognitive scientist Donald Arthur Norman coined the term in the early 1990’s while he was Vice President of Advanced Technology Group at Apple. But originally it dates way back in 4000BC to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, which basically translates to arranging your surroundings in the most optimal, harmonious or user friendly way. The origin of UX can also be traced in greek civilisation of 5th century BC where tools were designed based on ergonomics principles which considers how a user interacts with other elements in the system.
Understanding the industry
Three fields of UX design
This field can be navigated by being a UX Researcher. This field comprises the brains behind a product with great user experience. A UX researcher’s role is basically analytical in nature with great focus on user research, surveys , interviews, Probing, working with the Minimum Viable product (MVPs) and mockups, user tracking etc. The basic work of a UX researcher is to provide valuable insights through data and patterns in an iterative manner to enhance the overall design.
The Design field deals with the core design aspect of a product. UX Designers are basically craftsmen who give the product its shape by utilising derived understanding of the data from the research. This field of work might seem to be mostly creative but in actuality it is more of an iterative form of work. Here a product goes through numerous interactions of design development through regular test runs. Though individual creativity that fits the business objective for a product can obviously give you the chance to exercise flexibility in your work.
The Strategy part in UX design mostly deals with the business side of things. UX Strategists are basically experienced guys who have hands-on experience in Research and designing. They are mostly responsible for formulating the overall UX strategy for a product to achieve the business objective. They look deeper into the project and see operations from a bird’s eye view.
Five phases for a UX designer
Whenever we start a UX project , setting up an objective is the most critical part in starting up. Defining the goals & hypothesis for a project is extremely necessary in-order to iteratively judge your progress. Generally the objective for any project aims at resolving a certain user flow through a better and pain free process.
Once an objective is set for a product, then the team starts researching in all possible directions. These research can vary based on a particular feature or unit which needs to be added or enhanced. During the research phase both primary and secondary research are conducted and data is collected over various parameters. These data are compiled and logical models are formed based on derived insights. The research team also does the work of creating test cases for the new model testing and development.
The rest three phases are highly iterative. This process of Mockup-Test-Build continues till the product attains a satisfactory level of performance with all critical changes implemented.
The mockup process is by far the most important process where a UX designer quickly prepares product mockups based on initial basic understanding and passes it for testing and build. This process continues till the product interface gets modified to the point where all necessary changes have been added , tested and built. This mockup prepared from just the initial basic understanding is a MVP ( Minimum viable product)
After the MVP is prepared from the initial understanding it is critical to test the mockup to judge its viability. Testing phase enables the UX team to learn the gap in the theoretical modelling and the practical experience of a product. These gaps are identified and the MVP is again sent to the mockup stage for remodelling. This process continues till a satisfactory level is achieved.
The build stage comes after several iterations for a design to be implemented. It’s the process of actually making the thing. But even after the post-launch, there undergoes a lot of continued testing for the product. Some of the feature sets are untested in the market so they are released incrementally judging the user response and product performance.
Now that you have got a brief understanding of UX design, you can always hop on to the getting started and learning part. Being a UX designer does not necessarily need a formal degree as it is more of a practical skill. A good learning curve with some quality projects in your bucket can build you a good UX portfolio. This will help you in applying for high paying designing jobs or even to freelancing .
Best Free UI UX design courses for beginners
- The 1st course you can get your hands on is UI UX design course on Udacity . The best thing about this course is the majority of the course content is by people who are working at Google as UX designers. You will get to know how they work, the kind of work they do and how design is contributing towards business growth.
- The 2nd one is by Coursera which has got tons of really good reviews and its syllabus is also really good. It’s not too long but manages to give you all the basics that you need.
- Another course is by Accenture and is called Digital skills : User Experience. This course is also great for beginners and can give a good overview of UX design and its principles