UX design is a relatively new field, but its impact has been immense.
UX design is still a relatively new field, but its impact has been immense. The history of UX design stretches back to the early 1970s, when it was first called “human factors engineering” or “ergonomics.” While the term "user experience" itself didn't come into being until 1990, the concept had been brewing for at least 20 years by then.
Today's UX designers can trace their practice back to developments in World War II and earlier, when researchers were studying how pilots reacted to certain conditions and designs. In other words, it's a profession that has evolved over decades with the help of rigorous scientific study and constant testing.
The core of UX design is creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.
While UX design is a relatively new term, it's a discipline that has existed as long as there have been products. In the early days of product development, these products/services were created by engineers to achieve tasks. Engineers in this case are like your handyman friends—they can fix problems, but they might simply code something and assume people will figure out how to use it.
The goal of UX designers, on the other hand, is to create an experience where the user can complete their intended task in an intuitive way that doesn't lead to frustration. The problem with this approach? Well, sometimes what's intuitive for one person isn't for someone else. This is where research comes into play: by getting information about users' needs and desires through extensive research and testing, you can tailor your designs to better serve your audience(s).
There can be a lot of gray area between the design and development departments in a company.
This might be the first time you hear about UX design. In fact, you may only know it as “UI/UX design”—the combination of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). But let me assure you that there is a difference between UI and UX.
To get a better grasp on this difference, start by learning what a UI designer does. A UI designer focuses on the look and feel of an app or website's user interface. As Techopedia explains, “A good UI can make the difference between a successful product and one that fails to attract users."
However, while UI designers are concerned with how something looks, UX designers are concerned with how things work (or don't work). And to understand why this is important—and why there's actually a demand for both roles—you'll need to understand what UX design is all about. You'll also see why many companies are opening up jobs specifically for UX designers where they didn't exist before.
Before we explore exactly what these positions entail and how they interact with each other, let's explore some of the confusion around UX design jobs:
UX designers are concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
UX designers are concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. In contrast to other disciplines of design, user experience design encompasses traditional human-centered design concerns while additionally incorporating a multitude of other disciplines such as information architecture, interaction design, and others that are necessary for creating a successful user experience. A UX designer focuses on the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
UX designers usually have interests in the following areas:
Information Architecture - how information is structured and labeled such that people can find it easily
Interaction Design - how people interact with products or services
Usability - making sure that something is useable by everyone (i.e., no one should get lost trying to use it)
Because all websites, software applications and devices have human users, every company that creates products can benefit from employing a UX designer.
As a UX designer, you'll never be bored. Your job will be to study human behavior and evaluate the ease of use and intuitiveness of the products that companies develop. You'll work closely with other designers, developers, and product managers to analyze how users interact with a product or service—whether it's a website or an application on a smart phone.
Your keen eye for design will help ensure that users have the best experience possible when using your company's products. Because all websites, software applications and devices have human users, every company that creates products can benefit from employing a UX designer. Even small businesses without dedicated UX teams are hiring people with your skillset; they know that good user experience is one of their best tools for staying competitive in today's tech-driven marketplace.
Companies will often hire outside consultants or agencies in order to maintain objectivity or receive fresh perspectives on their products.
Companies will often hire outside consultants or agencies in order to maintain objectivity or receive fresh perspectives on their products. For example, a company might hire a consultant to provide user research services that they don't have the time or resources for themselves. Or, a company might hire an agency, like New Canvas Design Labs™, to help them carry out extensive research and offer up insights that help them see the bigger picture about why their product may not be meeting business goals. Agencies can also play an important role in helping companies improve their own internal processes related to UX design.
In an increasingly digital world, companies do well to find and employ good UX designers.
You may not know it, but UX design is all around you! Whether you’re in a store or on your computer, any product that was created with an eye towards usability has been influenced by a UX designer.
In the past several years, more companies have started to realize that good UX design isn’t just about making products look pretty; it’s about understanding their users. If you can understand the audience for whom you are designing and provide them with a tool that is effective and easy to use, this will lead to more success in the marketplace.
Learn more about whether UX design is right for you below.