User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences for users. It involves designing the entire product acquisition and integration process, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. User experience design is a concept that has many dimensions, and includes a lot of different disciplines, such as interaction design, information architecture, visual design, usability and human-computer interaction. Before exploring what a UX designer does, it is important to first establish what UX design actually is.
UX design focuses on the interaction between real human users (like you and me) and everyday products and services, such as websites, apps and even coffee machines. It is a very diverse discipline, combining aspects of psychology, business, market research, design and technology. A user experience (UX) designer ensures that a product is easy to learn and use for the end user. A user experience designer works from the beginning of any product process to ensure that product teams are building products that are aware of their users, their needs and pain points.
The main interface design techniques are prototyping and simulation. User interface designers create a prototype based on the requirements they have from ideation sessions and interaction specifications. Simulation is a part of validating design decisions by testing a prototype with people representing the target audience. It is an essential part of usability testing sessions.
When conducting usability testing, the product team gives test participants a prototype and a predefined set of tasks and sees what problems they encounter during the interaction. I have been in more than one situation where people referred to me as a UX designer doing research. UX designers use a number of tools to map the user journey through a product, including user flows and wireframes. Whether designing a new product, devising a new feature or making changes to an existing product or service, the UX designer must consider what is best for the user and the overall user experience.
UX designers create these prototypes so that they look, feel and have a range of capabilities that are very similar to the final product being planned. To do this, they may review what the current website offers, interview current users to identify opportunities and weaknesses, and do competitor research to see what else is out there. So, for example, a UX designer would take the principles of how to make a product accessible, and actually translate those principles into the design process of a system so that a user interacting with it would find it accessible. Wireframes include simple representations of user interface design elements, which serve as a guide for further development and product design.
As a UX designer, you are there to make products and technology usable, enjoyable and accessible to humans. The rise of product designer positions has led to confusion around the difference with UX designers. The meanings of UX and UI imply that they are related design disciplines, although they are very different in nature. There is still a lot of confusion around this field, which is why, as a UX designer, you will often find that your first task in a new job is to clearly explain the value you will bring to the business and how you will do it.
As you can see, UX is a fascinating, varied and very fulfilling career that can take you in many directions. In other words, UX design is the process of designing products (digital or physical) that are useful, easy to use and enjoyable to interact with. Keep in mind that if you want to be a full-stack designer, you will need to train in other specialisations, for example, web development or UX copywriting.