User experience design: what is it and why should you care?

Author

Amber Krijt

published

2019-01-08

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UX is something we encounter every day, but are not always aware of. If we don't notice it, the UX-designer has done a good job: you only become aware of user experience design when it is not working in a logical way. But before we get ahead of ourselves: what is UX design really?

One common mistake is the misconception that UX solely is about the design of websites. That is not the case. It is the entire process of interaction between the user and the product. This can be a digital roadmap, or even a physical one. To keep this article easy to understand, we will only talk about websites for now. We’ve set up five guidelines in UX design that you should always be aware of, whether you want to redesign a website or are in the process of reviewing a design.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness is more than making sure a website is scaled right, based on the platform it is used on. Real responsiveness is the recognition of the fact that different platforms, such as desktop and mobile but also apps or websites, have their own user expectation. That is why we plead for different versions that function optimal within their own environment. For example: if you want to link to your app on your website, the clickable links should lead to different sources according to the device your user is viewing your site with. On mobile the link should lead the user to an app store, while the desktop version can start a direct download, without opening another window. Always keep the different platforms and their specific requirements in mind.

User journey

In the journey that users follow all twists and turns should be thought of. Important points to keep in mind here are clarity, understandability and insight. In the design of a user journey it is all about connecting the needs of the user and the wishes of the client. If you’re a brand owner, you probably have a certain vision of what you would like people to see on your website. But always keep in mind, your user is the one that actually uses the site, and might have another goal than you have.

Interaction

Interaction with digital media and the required ease in using it are often underestimated. Experienced developers are so imbedded in their own websites, they can lose track of the utilities the user needs. That is why it’s important to constantly focus on the flow that the user expects, and to make it one that should always be easy to understand. There is a steering element in here, as well. The exact arrangement of the user dashboard, in a way that it is responsive to the wishes of the user, is the essence of interacting.

Validation

A well functioning website that lives up to the specific wishes of a client isn’t definitive. User experiences and expectations change over time, and the feedback that comes from that is always useful. This information can continuously be integrated in the improvement and development of the product. That’s why validation is a learning process that never ends. For the client this creates peace of mind, but also an incentive: no, the development of a product is never ‘finished’, and yes, the digital product can always be improved.

Content

Visuals, copy and video are all equally important in the user experience as navigation, buttons and the user journey. Contrary to (old) popular belief, content is an essential element in UX. The way the attention is drawn by attractive buttons, appealing imagery or inspiring videos are a huge element in determining a website’s success and the communication goals that go behind it. UX is content, and content is UX.

This article is written based on the input from our UX-designer, Amber Krijt. In this article we’ve just talked about user experience design in websites. If you’re curious about a taylor made solution for your business, you’re more than welcome to drop by our office!