Many companies used to treat design and user experience second-class requirement when creating technical innovation (most people my age will know what I am talking about). Functionality was more important than how easy a product would be to use. As has been the case for many years though, this is certainly no longer the norm. The expectation for design, function and “how it makes me feel” is assumed in the same manner that requirements need to be met.
Our Senior Design Consultant Jay Kasturi gave a presentation on User Experience design, which to a room full of hard core developers was a challenge in itself.
UX Design – Not just making things pretty
Jay spoke about the history of user experience which has its roots in industrial design/human centered design practices and precedes the world of web development.
“UX is the design of everything
independent of medium or across media
with human experience as an explicit outcome
and human engagement as an explicit goal.”
– Jesse James Garrett
The goals of UX are to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and engagement provided in the interaction with a product.
UX focuses on the user, paying attention to how the user is engaging with the senses, the body, the mind and the emotions. Beginning from these considerations we work to gain a better picture of the user’s capabilities, constraints, and their experiential context. This is the foundation that user research provides and from which iterative design and development can proceed.
The emotional capacity of UX has only really been addressed in the last two decades. In the book the experience economy they talk about how we have for a long time we have discounted experiences as entertainment only and that is not an accurate description.
How does UX and design thinking work together?
Design thinking is a simple solution framework that anyone can use for innovation. Using it we can empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test our assumptions generated during the process and ensure that we are meeting the needs of the users.
Jay went on to show her vision for how UX is composed of many facets which together build the bigger picture of creating a website for a client.
UX and development
In development, users and roles serve a specific purpose in mapping the architecture needs and flow of an application. But through UX we can develop personas and use cases to uncover user tasks, edge cases, and unmet needs that could be translated into features and find/address usability concerns.
Simply put, developers can get pretty clear requirements of how an application works – but often times how stakeholders envision the application working for themselves is not how others would use it. Just because a functional requirement is met, does not mean that an end user will find it intuitive to use. This is the gap that a thorough UX process will bridge.
UX and UI are not interchangeable
They do touch on each other and do share a great deal of information but it’s important to delineate what each terms is referencing. User interface design is concerned with layout, typography, the visual flow and consistency of elements/components. UI without UX can create products that are visually great, but may not serve specific user needs or make actively confound their tasks.
Jay went on to show a Personal and Journey map she created for a client which spoke to how the user journey prior to and through the app, and beyond it. Going through this exercise with the client helped contextualize and prioritize key moments in the user experience:
We also saw examples of wireframes with callouts on the page for a different client:
Jay’s UX experience and knowledge has had a significant positive impact on our projects since she join PSC last year. Being able to show some of the cool things she has done, and spread the word internally of how she does it made for a very powerful and well-received presentation.