The UX Designer has more than one string to its bow. In addition to his knowledge of design and web ergonomics, he must have many other qualities. He is thus a true project manager who must excel in the art of communicating ideas and bringing together decision-makers, graphic designers, developers and users around common objectives.
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What is UX Design?
In IT, UX Design (for User Experience) anticipates user behavior to make a digital interface as efficient as possible. The UX Designer uses an analytical approach by studying the behavior of a group of users. It also takes into account the ergonomic dimension of interfaces to offer a satisfactory experience to users when they are in interaction with it.
What is the role of a UX Designer?
The UX Designer makes the objectives and strategy of the company that owns the digital interfaces coexist with the needs and expectations of users. Its role is to offer a unique user experience where ergonomics and navigation are adapted to a defined target. UX Designer makes interactions with interfaces pleasant and intuitive.
To do this, it guides the user’s progress through the various actions to be taken. It beacons the user’s route in order to reduce as much as possible the questions that he could have during his navigation.
What are the missions of a UX Designer?
From analysis to ergonomics, the missions of the UX Designer are numerous. The information architect Jesse James Garrett defined a working method in his book “Elements of the user experience”, published in 2011. He characterized 5 successive stages:
- Definition of the strategies and challenges of the project.
- Specification of the field of action.
- Development of prototypes.
- Testing navigation designs.
- Continuous design optimization.
This approach allows UX Designers to accomplish their missions while achieving their goals.
1 – Identify the strategy and the challenges of the project
Among the first missions of the UX Designer are field research and documentary analysis for:
- Define user needs: what do they want to accomplish? What are their technological knowledge? What questions do they have about services? What are the points on which they need to be reassured?
- Define the objectives of the company: what is the final objective? What are the intermediate objectives? What actions do users need to take to achieve this?
To complete its research, the UX Designer can query current users. By conducting interviews and surveys, he identifies the strengths and weaknesses of existing products and services. The competition analysis also offers information that will be useful, later, in determining the strategy and the challenges of the project.
2 – Carry out user studies and have a clear vision of the future typical customer
Through its research, the UX Designer compiles the most complete picture possible of the people for whom the interface is designed. These typical profiles are called “personas”. They are defined according to their age, their function or their preferences. From these personas, the UX Designer can begin to determine why and how users want their experience.
User studies serve as a starting point to start developing content and thinking about how it will be structured. This structure then makes it possible to organize and prioritize the information. This first information architecture establishes the field of action within which users will navigate.
3 – Make different prototypes
The various prototypes are first developed in the form of graphic models. These models serve both as a tool for designing or optimizing the future interface and for visual communication. They define the locations of each element, including:
- The visuals.
- The logo.
- The menu.
- The bottom of the page.
- The sidebar.
They constitute the architecture on which the content and graphics will be grafted.
The mockups then allow developers to create prototypes. These prototypes are simplified versions. They help the UX Designer to observe the interactions between users and the product.
4 – Run user tests
Evaluating prototypes with real users highlights areas for improvement. Each prototype provides its share of relevant information on the shortcomings that need to be corrected and the successes that need to be replicated.
Usually, several rounds of tests are performed before the final product is created.
Throughout the process, the UX Designer accompanies team meetings as the development supervisor. It guarantees the proper integration of the different functionalities and, when necessary, makes changes to the design.
5 – Continuously optimize the web interface or the product
The work of the UX Designer is rarely completed, even after delivering the final version. The process of optimizing the user experience is very iterative. It is always possible to improve a product by relying on:
- Customer feedback.
- User tests.
- Analysis of data collected by the interface.
To design new avenues for optimization, the UX Designer can use the A / B testing method. This technique consists of creating several variations of the interface by modifying only one criterion (color, calligraphy, button, etc.) at a time.
What are the key skills of a UX Designer?
The UX Designer has a range of varied skills, both on the technical side and on the side of human qualities. Through the process of creating and optimizing digital interfaces, he works with a large number of people. Knowing how to read a business strategy plan is as useful as being able to communicate your ideas as a team or create a UX questionnaire.
Combine human skills
Effective collaboration with those around him plays a large part in the success of UX Designer projects. There are many stakeholders within projects: the customer, the product manager, users, web developers or even graphic designers.
This is the reason why combining certain specific human skills is a real asset:
- Adaptability to work on projects and strategies that are always different.
- Communication to share ideas and motivate the team.
- Empathy to understand users, including on the emotional and psychological level.
- Problem solving and creativity to find innovative and effective solutions.
- The analytical ability to interpret data.
Possess technical skills in web development
Web development skills are essential to improve interfaces and to communicate with developers. They intervene, for example, in the creation of models which integrate the evolution of design. To design them, it is important to know:
- The bottom of an application or a site.
- Front-end web development programming languages, mainly HTML and CSS.
- The technical constraints to know what it is possible to do or not.
- Technical developments by carrying out a constant technological watch.
Have knowledge of web design and ergonomics
To improve the ease of use and the visibility of interface elements, solid design concepts are a serious asset:
- Realization of graphic elements.
- Design of navigation ergonomics.
- Use of graphic design software, such as the Adobe suite.
- Putting the design process into practice, also called creative design.
- Mastery or general knowledge of UI Design concepts.
This knowledge of design and ergonomics constitutes the essential basis from which the UX Designer refines the navigation intuition.
The job of UX Designer is constantly evolving. It follows new user practices and technological progress. In this profession, creativity is essential, as is the rigor of analysis and project management.
It’s interesting to know that the digital world isn’t the only area where UX Design applies. It is also used to reorganize urban environments and interior spaces in order to improve the user experience. The UX Designer can, for example, rethink the traffic in a supermarket or in a public place: a creative and useful approach with many applications.
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