"OK but...what's your job, exactly?"
One of the questions I hear most often is What exactly do you do for a living?
Good. My role is that of User Experience Designer.
As a UX Designer, I focus on all aspects of digital product development, including design, usability and functionality. My work touches the entire end-to-end journey of a user's interaction with a digital product, and includes identifying new opportunities for the product and the business.
In other words: my job is to make sure that digital products (such as websites, e-commerce, web applications and mobile applications) are user-friendly and meet the needs of the users who will use them.
I also make sure that the digital products I design are technically feasible and that they are compatible with business needs.
There are a few key aspects to the UX design process—a cluster of core activities and responsibilities – that make up the bulk of my day-to-day work as UX Designer.
Market, product, and user research are major components of UX design, as research is crucial to understanding the user and their individual needs. User research focuses on the behaviour, motivations, and needs of a customer to help the Designer identify what opportunities exist in a particular market for product solutions. Among the research methods I commonly use to gather information and insights about target users are data collection, surveys and user interviews.
During this phase, I consolidate and interpret the results obtained to build representative personas of my target audience based on models and the data obtained. Each persona communicates a potential user's demographic information, motivations, needs, potential responses and anything else the developers will need to consider - a useful tool that helps the organisation get a clearer picture of who it is building the product for.
Information Architecture describes the way in which information is mapped out and organized to communicate a clear purpose—in a word, how the information is navigated. Adobe defines IA as “the creation of a structure for a website, app, or other product, which allows users to understand where they are—and where the information they want is in relation to their current position.”
As one of the first steps toward building the final product, UX Designers create wireframes—low-fidelity design sketches that represent different screens or stages of the product throughout the user journey. Wireframes include simple representations of UI design elements, which serve as a guide for further development and product design.
Compared to wireframes, prototypes are a higher-fidelity design of the product, which can be leveraged for user testing and for illustrating the product to the development team. I create these prototypes to have a look & feel very similar to the projected final product. Clickable prototypes allow test users to interact with the product—which lets me try out practical variations of the experience and identify areas for improvement.
User testing consists of allowing users to interact with a prototype of the final design to analyse its accessibility, usability and intuitiveness. But there are also other methods, e.g. focus groups, moderated user testing and unmoderated user testing.
Product testing is one of the crucial last steps towards identifying the changes that should take place as development proceeds.