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Cesar Keller
Written By
Cesar Keller
Published On
September 27, 2021

A Practical Conversation Around UX (User Experience)

Happy App User on Phone

In the world of digital product design, you won’t stray too far without hearing a popular buzz word, “User Experience.”  This blog will share professional insights while having a practical conversation around UX.  So… whether you are a business person, programmer, designer or analyst – you will learn a few things that can help you in your next digital transformation initiative or digital product build.

Let’s start with what is UX?

Nielsen Norman Group (World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience) define UX as…

"User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

When simplifying this concept, you could consider a Venn diagram for UX which combines elements into an experience.

  • Design – Intentional engaging visuals
  • Content – That speaks plainly and concisely
  • Interface – That is intuitive and memorable

What is the difference between UX and UI?

Many people confuse or blend UX/UI as one thing.  Unfortunately, they are completely separate subsets under the design umbrella and require different skills and talent to some degree.  There are cases where you can have one individual be great at both, but that is a special case and comes down to education, experience, and talent.

While each craft has specialties, they are some factors that overlap between UX and UI.  But let’s key into some core differences to make a clear distinction. UI (User Interface) deals specifically with the design of the interface on the device that the user interacts with.  This could be a mobile phone app, mobile browser, or desktop experience.  The point here is that the UI is a segment of the overall experience, while UX is much broader from a category perspective and covers experience from start to finish with a product or system beyond the interface alone.

UX involves various aspects of research, empathy exercises, and optimizations of flow throughout a system.  But revolve around project elements such as graphics, content, and functionality coming together as one.

To some extent, you could say that UX has a lot to do with branding and overall perception of experience as opposed to the focus on the layout for the interface.  UX is more about perception and feel, while UI is more about looks and final polish quality.  UX and UI designers work in Yingying fashion to bring products to light in the best way possible.

Factors and influence that impact User Experience

Interaction-Design.org posted a great article on “Seven Factors that Influence User Experience”.  For those not familiar with these, it really opens up clear understanding on how deep UX can go and how it influences the quality for digital projects.

1

Useful

Here we ask how useful the product is to someone?

This should be a core discussion from the get go, because positioning yourself in the market depends highly on how useful a product is.  Non-practical benefits don’t mean a thing.

2

Useable

Here we ask how effective or optimized a user can accomplish their goals?

Here we are trying to simplify all interactions and remove any complexities that are not required.

3

Findable

The simple topic here is that the product must be easy to search and find.

Digital products need to compete in the content awareness space as you’re not going to buy and interact with products/services you don’t know exist.

4

Credible

You need to build trust with your prospects and users.

You want customers believing the product you have delivered and trusting that the solution will work as promised and consistently for a long time.

5

Desirable

Desirability is a combination of elements across storytelling, compelling and fused communication with great visuals, and exciting customers to the point they create desire in others.

This is where finding your “why” is extremely important.

6

Accessible

The question to ask here is about fair and equal usage of your product/service despite handicaps, impairments and illnesses that affect potential users.

Unfortunately, the accessibility category tends to take a backseat to other influential categories because of cost. However, successful and competitive companies always find solutions to distinguish themselves so everyone can have access.

7

Valuable

The product needs to deliver value; both for the developers and the consumers.

Value statements set the tone for what buyers are willing to pay for such a product and service.

Imagine all the questions and research that you could pull up during pre-production planning for a project by just considering these categories carefully.  It makes informed decision making for your product and roadmap stronger.  When you combine all the UX factors above in your planning and execution, you have a much better chance at success.

If UX is so important, why aren’t all businesses including this kind of talent in projects?

Unfortunately, not all organizations have the same level or care and preparation for design methodologies and process such as UX.  According to Nielsen Norman Group, they recently published information around the 6 stages of UX Maturity within organizations.  Let’s take a look at the Six Stages defined in their publication:

Absent

UX is ignored or nonexistent.

Ignored
Non Existent
Undiscovered

Limited

UX work is rare, done haphazardly, and lacking importance.

Uneven
Haphazard
Aspirational

Emergent

The UX work is functional and promising but done inconsistently and inefficiently.

Functional
Inconsistent
Inefficient

Structured

The organization has some systematic UX-related methodology that is widespread, but with varying degrees of effectiveness and efficiency.

Partly Systematic
Variably Effective
Process Improving

Integrated

UX work is comprehensive, effective, and pervasive (spreading through organization).

Comprehensive
Pervasive
Universal

User-Driven

Dedication to UX at all levels leads to deep insights and exceptional user-centered–design outcomes.

Beloved
Reproducible
Habitual

When we engage with all our clients, it doesn’t matter what level they are at.  We educate them and have process to ensure UX is covered as core segment of our engineering management activities.  Many of our clients have been enlightened by exercises and tools that we use and have adopted some of these principles in other areas of their operation.

Summary

Understanding the role that User Experience designers play in digital product design is critical for the success of your projects.  UX and UI design is not the same, but both have important roles to play that add up to the quality and functionality for your product and service.  UX is a much broader category that goes beyond interface layouts, colors, and buttons.  And ensuring that UX touches all aspects for an initiative without silos will increase success factors because you are placing focus on caring about the people that will be paying for your product and service.  After all, we aren’t here to make CEOs happy, we are here to make our customers happy, which in turn generates revenue and other opportunities that stakeholders are after.

Stay tuned for the next UX Blog where we will break down some examples and tips and broaden your understanding for User Experience within digital products.

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